Monday, February 27, 2012

At home: Ai Weiwei -

The conditions of his release from arbitrary detention are extremely restrictive and are the same as those often used to persecute dissidents and political activists in China. He cannot leave Beijing and is required to call the secret police to let them know every time he wants to leave his house so they can follow him everywhere he goes.

“They follow me in cars and take photos of me from bushes and when I go eat in a restaurant they book the table next to me and try to record everything I’m saying,” Ai says.

He is also not supposed to do any interviews, especially with foreign reporters, who are not under the control of the oppressive, pervasive Chinese censorship regime. But Ai wants to speak up for the many supporters, far less famous than he is, who have also been subjected to persecution because of his refusal to back down or stop questioning one-party rule and abuses of power in his country.

He talks about Liu Zhengang, his former business manager, who almost died while in detention at the same time as Ai. And he speaks with great respect for human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, who he says lost his licence to practise law five months ago for nothing more than saying Ai’s detention was illegal.

“Police made fun of him because other lawyers have mistresses and luxury cars and make so much money but here he is doing human rights,” Ai says. “They told him they could break him and his family and make them all die.”