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Ai Weiwei Speaks Out: “Beijing is a Nightmare”

Ai Weiwei Speaks Out: “Beijing is a Nightmare”
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World-renowned artist Ai Weiwei was arrested in April by Chinese authorities and detained for 81 days, at a time when dozens of activists, lawyers and dissidents were arrested earlier this year. An international outcry arose over the imprisonment of Ai, who had long been a outspoken critic of human rights abuses in China. Chinese authorities charged Ai with economic crimes and released him “because of his good attitude in confessing” and a chronic illness, says the Guardian.

One of the conditions of Ai’s release was not to speak publicly about being detained; he was banned from using Twitter. But Ai has already†sent a number of angry tweets recently about friends who had been involved in his case. He has also written an†article about Beijing on the website of Newsweek magazine that describes a city in which government officials and businessmen live very, very well while migrant workers from villages who’ve “never seen electricity or toilet paper” toil as “Beijing’s slaves.”

Beijing tells foreigners that they can understand the city, that we have the same sort of buildings: the Birdís Nest, the CCTV tower. Officials who wear a suit and tie like you say we are the same and we can do business. But they deny us basic rights. You will see migrantsí schools closed. You will see hospitals where they give patients stitchesóand when they find the patients donít have any money, they pull the stitches out. Itís a city of violence.

The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; itís like a sandstorm. You donít see yourself as part of the cityóthere are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody elseís will, somebody elseís power.

Ai refers directly to his detainment as an “ordeal” that made him understand what Beijing is, a “nightmare.” Forget about the glossy images of bullet trains and BMWs:

… there are many hidden spots where they put people without identity. With no name, just a number. They donít care where you go, what crime you committed. They see you or they donít see you, it doesnít make the slightest difference. There are thousands of spots like that. Only your family is crying out that youíre missing. But you canít get answers from the street communities or officials, or even at the highest levels, the court or the police or the head of the nation. My wife has been writing these kinds of petitions every day, making phone calls to the police station every day. Where is my husband? Just tell me where my husband is. There is no paper, no information.

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Photo of Ai WeiWei after his release by Chinese authorities by DigiPub

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7:47AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013

Honestly, why have the "common man" in China not risen up and successfully overthrown their leaders violently before now? Is it just the fact that the military have guns? I'm really surprised that the citizens tolerate such things on a daily basis.

12:06PM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

And this is the country that practically owns the United States!!!!

11:53PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

How very sad, that such evil is perpetrated on good people. I hope that we can help to stop such abuses.

8:02PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Nature has designed all life to have freedom.. Human stupidity in many forms of control goes against this Universal moral code.

7:28PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

And this is a famous person. God knows what happens to the everyday victim.

2:42PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

True, free speech is not allowed in China...what's wrong with our countries allowing these cheap goods into our free speech countries? I guess it's okay if it is....far away?

6:34AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

He's quite brave to speak out and expose the dirty secrets of the government.
I hope they won't kill him for that.

Thanks for the post.

12:58AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

I so respect his speaking out in spite of the pressure. May he stay safe, and help bring positive change to China!

10:40PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:01PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

I truly worry that the government wil make this courageous man "dissapear".
I wish him safety.

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