China censors Ai Weiwei’s Newsweek essay
Posted by Author on September 2, 2011
BEIJING(AFP) — Chinese censors have removed an essay by Ai Weiwei in which the dissident artist strongly criticises the country’s government and justice system from the latest issue of Newsweek magazine.
The article, Ai’s first for a foreign publication since he was released from detention earlier this year, had been ripped from copies of the September 5 issue seen by AFP on a newsstand in Beijing.
In the essay Ai, 54, whose artworks have been displayed around the world, said his ordeal in police custody made him realise he was only a number in an anonymous system where “they deny us basic rights”.
“The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it?s like a sandstorm,” Ai wrote in the essay on his native city in the current issue of Newsweek.
“This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure… Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.”
The essay follows a series of anti-government comments posted by Ai on Twitter, where he hit out at the treatment of colleagues and fellow dissidents, and is an apparent violation of the terms of his bail.
Ai was barred from giving interviews or leaving Beijing after he was released on bail in June following his detention.
He faces charges of tax evasion, but rights groups say he was detained as part of a wider crackdown on government critics amid official concern that unrest in the Arab world would spread to China.
By Friday afternoon, Internet users in China were still able to connect to an online version of the essay on the magazine’s website, despite China’s highly sophisticated online censorship system, know as the Great Firewall.
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