Censors in China have attempted to purge an essay written by prominent artist and dissident Ai Weiwei by manually tearing the pages of the article from a weekly news magazine.
The essay, which appears in the September 5 issue of Newsweek, urges Chinese citizens to speak out against what he says is the government’s denial of “basic rights.” He also blasts the Chinese judicial system as being untrustworthy.
However, the article was still accessible online to English speakers as of Friday afternoon local time, despite China’s vigilant online censorship.
Ai was understood to be barred from speaking to media or leaving Beijing after being released from jail in June. The internationally renowned artist was detained for almost three months after being charged with tax evasion.
Ai’s arrest came in the midst of a Chinese crackdown on dissidents that saw dozens of activists and lawyers rounded up just as pro-democracy uprisings were sweeping through the Middle East.
Western governments and human rights groups condemned the arrest, charging that it was a politically motivated response to Ai’s outspoken criticism of government actions.
Earlier this month, Ai spoke to the Global Times newspaper at his studio in northeast Beijing. He also posted a series of statements on Twitter in which he denounced the “mental abuse and physical torture” of business colleagues who were arrested along with him.
- Ai Weiwei’s Beijing (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Ai Weiwei, artist and dissident, rips into Chinese gov in post-prison op-ed (boingboing.net)
- Ai Weiwei will not be silenced (cnn.com)
- China dissident Ai Weiwei launches scathing attack on govt (msnbc.msn.com)
Sean, Ai Weiwei’s Newsweek interview is accessible to Chineese speakers in China as well.
I looked on Chinese search engine Baidu for the Ai Weiwei interview using this search term:
“艾未未 新闻周刊” (“Ai Weiwei Newsweek” in Chinese)
And Baidu returned over 11,000 hits. Even ferverishly nationalistic May 4th Media, sponsored in part by the Chinese government, carried the Newsweek interview.