China: Ai Weiwei placed under house arrest
May 13, 2019, 5:19 am
Ai Weiwei posted on Twitter that he has been told he may not leave his home until 12.00 on 7 November 2010.The house arrest relates to a ‘celebration’ that Ai Weiwei had planned to mark the government-ordered demolition of his art studio in Shanghai.He had invited people to attend a banquet of wine and river crabs to bid farewell to his studio. The Chinese for ‘river crabs’ sounds similar to ‘harmonise’, a phrase the government regularly employs to mean censorship.
Ai Weiwei is one of China’s most vocal social critics.
In 2009 he was forced to undergo cranial surgery after being badly beaten in Sichuan Province when he went to give evidence at the trial of Tan Zuoren, another human rights defender, who was jailed for his investigations into the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Ai Weiwei himself spearheaded a campaign to document the names of the 5026 children who died in the earthquake.In May 2010 he released a recording of volunteers reading the names of each student who died, which lasted for three hours and forty minutes.
Although this house arrest is not related to the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, it serves to remind that dozens of Chinese human rights defenders remain under house arrest or close surveillance since the Nobel announcement was made on 8 October.