Ai Weiwei should be immediately released unconditionally

Zhang Kai

On 3 April, Ai Weiwei, a human rights defender and a dissident artist, was arrested in Beijing airport. Until 20 May, through Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese authorities stated that based on a primary investigation, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Limited, a company Ai controlled, evaded taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. Hence, he was under house arrest (quoted from Ming Po dated 21 May).

These are false allegations and intentional punishment by the authorities. The legal representative of Beijing Fake Cultural Development Limited is Lu Qing, Ai’s wife. Hence, it should be Lu to be interrogated about tax evasion. Furthermore, although Ai has his own rights of meeting his spouse, his wife was allowed to visit him only 15 minutes on 15 May. Liu Xiaoyuan, Ai’s attorney, pointed out that house arrest outside one’s house is illegal. Ai could have his house arrest in his own legal living place. This is clearly written in the regulations of criminal cases. Liu also disclosed that Ai was restricted from free communication with the outside world. Furthermore, Liu refuted that legally speaking, if one goes to the taxation authority to settle tax evasion and to pay penalty fee, he is entitled to go home.

        Under the rule of the Chinese bureaucracy, there are numerous wrong cases. Ai is one of the victims. This has aroused sympathy from outside and inside China. In Europe, several sculpture exhibitions were held to request the Chinese authorities to release Ai. The editorial of Southern Metropolis Daily, dated 12 May, euphemistically supported him that “we cannot do it better, so we present 12 iron animals and porcelain melon seeds which symbolize your condensed life”. Actually, ‘12 animals’ and ‘melon seeds’ are among Ai’s renowned sculptures. The editorial statement in the website was soon erased. The editor was assigned to another post.

        Whenever the Chinese authorities violate the rights of freedom of speech and publication, they claim that everything is based on the law. This discloses that the authoritative bureaucracy is beyond the law. Chinese people can indeed enjoy real democracy only if this bureaucracy is removed.


Postscript: On 22 June 2011, partly due to overseas and domestic pressure, the Chinese legal authorities released Ai on bail, who had been in detention on charges of tax evasion for 81 days. The state media claimed that he was willing to pay any back taxes and his attitude in confessing his crimes was good. In fact, Ai had suffered physically and mentally, so he was forced to confess. And, Ai is not the supposed criminal even though the Chinese authorities declared that the investigation proved that Beijing Fake Cultural Development Limited evaded taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents……………………………………………………………………………..2011.6.23