Conditions of Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei’s Detention Emerge
Posted by Author on August 12, 2011
HONG KONG (NY Times) — Ai Weiwei, a prominent Chinese artist and dissident, said on Friday that he had been kept in a tiny room throughout his nearly three-month detention last spring and watched 24 hours a day by shifts of two uniformed military police sergeants who never left his side.
During a brief telephone interview, Mr. Ai confirmed and elaborated on a description of his captivity provided by an associate. The sergeants were never more than 30 inches from his side, and sometimes just four inches away, and stayed there as he slept, showered and used the bathroom, Mr. Ai said.
“It is designed as a kind of mental torture, and it works well,” he added.
Mr. Ai, 54, was detained at Beijing’s main airport on April 3 when he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong, and was taken away by the police. In the preceding months, he had emerged in Twitter postings as a forceful critic of the arbitrary exercise of power by Chinese officials and an advocate for greater democracy.
Mr. Ai’s associate, who insisted on anonymity because of the risk of official retaliation, said that from the very beginning of his detention the police made it clear that it would be a difficult experience. “He told me that when he was taken from the airport, the police told him: ‘You always give us trouble, now it’s time for us to give you trouble’,” the associate said.
Mr. Ai was released on June 22, after he signed what the authorities described as a confession of tax evasion at his art business. But the associate said that the police had not taken an interest in his tax matters when they interrogated him.
“He said he was questioned by police for more than 50 times, and none of those was about the tax issue of the company, but mostly about his blog,” the associate said, adding that the police had vehemently criticized Mr. Ai for his postings. “‘How dare you say those things, you are too defiant, disobedient,’ they would say.”
Mr. Ai said on Friday that the accusation of tax violations was being used by the authorities as a way to punish him for his activism.
It is rare for anyone to be arrested on tax charges in China, he said. And any such arrests would normally be conducted by the tax police, not military police sergeants, he added.
One condition of his release was that he stop making public statements. But he did call in a Twitter posting on Tuesday for the release of four colleagues and, in a separate posting, for the release of two other activists. One of the two activists, Ran Yunfei, 43, a blogger, was released hours later.
The other activist, Wang Lihong, 56, went on trial Friday in a Beijing suburb on a charge of “creating a disturbance,” The Associated Press reported. Ms. Wang pleaded not guilty to the charge, which stems from her participation in a demonstration in support of three bloggers accused of slander, The A.P. said. Mr. Ai’s associate said that one aspect of the artist’s recent detention had not bothered him, though the police might not have thought that they were doing him a favor.
“He told me that he was made to wash his own clothes by hand, which was his favorite, happiest thing to do, because he felt like that was the only thing he could do with his own hands,” the associate said.
– NY Times
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This entry was posted on August 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm and is filed under Artists, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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