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Ai Weiwei and Hu Jia Are Free, But…

Ai Weiwei and Hu Jia Are Free, But…

 

Today, the Chinese authorities freed a prominent dissident, Hu Jia, a leading, and highly vocal, advocate for democratic rights, religious freedom and self-determination for Tibet. The BBC reports that his wife, Zeng Jingyan, says he has been reunited with his family in Beijing after serving three and a half years for “inciting subversion”; he was to be released on Sunday.

Hu’s release follows that of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was released on bail last Wednesday. Hu has been awarded European Union’s top human rights award, the Sakharov prize, and is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He has also been an advocate for rural AIDS sufferers and for children with AIDS in China, and for . In 2008, Hu was imprisoned on charges related to five articles he had written and interviews with journalists, in which he criticized Chinese authorities. Before the 2008 Olympics were held in Beijing, Hu published an open letter to the Chinese government entitled “The Real China and the Olympics” and called for an end to human rights abuses in the country. In 2007, he had been placed under house arrest for a documentary that he and his wife had made about their life about “their experiences of living under constant police surveillance.”

According to the BBC, Ai Weiwei’s driver, accountant, assistant and a designer have also been freed. However, he is not allowed to speak the media, cannot leave Beijing without permission and unable to use his Twitter account at least for the next year. Ai’s last tweet was on April 3, the day he was detained by Chinese authorities while on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong from Beijing; he had been an active presence on the microblogging site, with over 89,000 followers and over 60,000 tweets. Formal charges have yet to be brought against the 54-year-old artist and activist. The Chinese authorities say that he has admitted to tax evasion and said he has promised to pay back the money, says the BBC.

In other words, Ai is free, but in a highly restricted way.

The same seems to be the same for Hu, too. His wife has said that he cannot yet speak to the media as that “might cause problems.”

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has arrived in the UK for a five-day state visit that began in Hungary and will end in Germany. As the Guardian reports, while the debt crisis will be high on the agenda — China now holds the world’s largest foreign exchange holdings and has bought more European bonds — human rights will definitely be under discussion:

China’s decision to release the dissident artist Ai Weiwei on bail has taken one contentious case off the agenda, but the UK is still expected to raise human rights issues: the question will be whether it does so publicly or privately, and how strongly it does so.

video in the Guardian shows Chinese citizens reacting with caution to Ai’s release; one person says that maintaining “national unity” is of first important, so “if Ai’s remarks really endangered the unity of the country, then the judicial system has the right to subject him to judicial punishment.” Another person interviewed says that she hopes the government can be more “open and tolerant” when people like Ai make such “extreme” remarks.

How free can China be or rather, how free do Chinese citizens wish to be?

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34 comments

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6:06AM PDT on Jul 19, 2011

It's not easy to be a free thinking artist. Not only in China.

8:47AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

thanks for sharing.

5:22PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

If you don't remember the liberation of Tibet in the '50s you cannot struggle for justice.

4:28PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I'm really happy that Ai Wei Wei and Hu Jia are free.
But Liu Xiaobo is still in jail... His chair is still empty, his voice is still unheard

3:31PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Gaaa! what happened to him in there? Or is that an art statement?

2:15PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I am very sorry I made the comment earlier about Ai Wei Wei looking like mickey mouse. It is a very serious subject and I was drunk when I wrote it. He actually looks more like a koala bear high on eucalyptus leaves. By the way i'm still drunk.

12:39PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Is it just me or does ai wei wei or whatever his name is, look like mickey mouse! He could lose the beard though. It looks scruffy and shows lack of discipline.

9:11AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

China should finish this action. release all political and other 'prisoners of conscience. Then the entire Maoist Communist party should abdicate and suicide, for being a bunch of lackeys to a scumbag Communist ultra-'liberal' dictator who should also be eliminated. Finally the Chinese nation should re-unite under a solid humanitarian semi-traditional dynasty. This should include the permanent cancellation of imperialism such as invasions of Nepal, Tibet, Vietnam, (North) Korea, and other neighbouring nations.

8:31AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

china is a putrid country, because of its human rights abuse..but other countries dont care do they, because they can make money collaborating with china, so teh bourgeoisie can get richer, they dont give hoot about abused people in china. china is s**t

7:25AM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

China should first free Tibet, a country which was never their's and stop claiming parts of India which never belonged to them ever.

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Lol, I see the hijacking of the thread by "Word Salad Alice" still continues.

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