Where is Ai Weiwei?
After a series of public clashes with the Chinese government, China's art superstar Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport on April 3 and has gone missing since. Alison Klayman, a documentary filmmaker who's followed Ai Weiwei from 2008-2010 for the upcoming film, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, expressed her concern about his whereabouts. She shared her thoughts about his detainment, his role in promoting free speech, the intersection between his art and social media, and the recently accelerated crackdown by the Chinese government on dissidents in a Huffington Post article this past Monday.
The speed and efficiency of the information network that came together around Ai Weiwei's detention and studio raid is a testament to how Ai and his followers have created an online space for free speech in their society. Transparency is a deeply personal value for Weiwei, and he and his staff have meticulously recorded the past several years of his life on film, in audio files, and on his Twitter feed (@aiww). The record is there for anyone who is interested.
Ai Weiwei is not a criminal. He is an outspoken proponent of free speech, human rights, and transparency in China's government and judicial system. Ai has violated no law. On the contrary, he has been scrupulous about working through and in accord with the Chinese legal system. His detention, then, seems to be without cause -- a violation of Weiwei's human rights and the rights guaranteed him by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, especially Articles 35 and 37.
This highly coordinated crackdown on Ai Weiwei is just one in a rash of dissident detentions in the wake of the "jasmine revolution." Nicholas Bequelin, China researcher for Human Rights Watch, recently told the Washington Post: "This is not a crackdown in the classic cycle of tightening and loosening. This is an effort by the government to redraw the lines of permissible expression in China, to restrict the most outspoken advocates of global values."
For more, check out the last U.S. interview, by Dan Rather, conducted with Ai Weiwei, which aired last night.
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