PROTEST RALLY SOCIAL ACTIVISM HONG KONG
A rally calling for the release of Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei was held from 11am Hong Kong today (Sunday 10 April, 2011). Art Radar was there and we bring you photos and a short video. First impressions included images and tshirts being passed out to supporters and a noticeable but passive police presence.
Scroll down for updates…
Video (above). Protestors are shouting, “Release Ai Weiwei! Release all human rights defenders!” (Note that there are two final slogans that we have not translated due to low quality sound making them unable to be heard correctly.)
Photo 1 reads (from top): (white banner with red and black words) “Oppose political persecution of dissenters, Against the CCP government’s political suppression”; (green banner) “Demand immediate release of Ai Weiwei, Release all dissenters”; (black banner) “We support Ai Weiwei, Zhao Lianhai”
Art Radar reporter Zoe Dulay said,
T-shirts were being handed out by a group of students who were asking for donations. They were only able to produce 70 shirts but I feel this was still a good effort. Pictures of Ai Weiwei were being passed around for people to hold up while they walked. There were a lot of police officers there, making sure things stayed organised. The chants being shouted out were mostly in Chinese, only “Release Ai Weiwei!” was in English. Mostly local Hong Kongers were in attendance.
“Up to 40 protestors marched from Hong Kong’s Western Police Station to Beijing’s Liaison Office,” according to RTHK English News. The rally was organised by non-profit group Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.
Another protest in London was held outside the Tate Modern, where “pictures of sunflower seeds bearing the names of 50 Chinese dissidents and artists who are being held by their country’s government or who have ‘disappeared’ have been laid across the grass,” reported British newspaper The Guardian.
UPDATE | 8:24pm (GMT+8), 10 April, 2011 BBC Radio‘s Mary Ann Sieghart profiles artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. Click here to listen to the broadcast.
UPDATE | 12:47am (GMT+8), 11 April 2011 The Australian has published an article stating “Ai Weiwei was detained after an obscene satirical work he drew enraged Communist Party leaders.” The newspaper reports,
Rights activists and journalists in Hong Kong say one of Ai’s visual critiques of the party crossed a censorship line. … It shows the artist naked except for a toy horse concealing his genitals. The caption has a double meaning in Chinese, so millions of internet users have seen the six characters interpreted as: ‘F . . . k your mother, the party central committee.’ … In one of the few comments on his case, a party-controlled newspaper said: ‘The law will not be bent for mavericks. Ai Weiwei always likes walking on the edge of the law and doing things others dare not.’
UPDATE | 2:20pm (GMT+8), 11 April 2011 The Wall Street Journal has published a slideshow of images accompanied by readers comments. Click here to view the WSJ slideshow on the 11 April (2011) Hong Kong Ai Weiwei protest.
UPDATE | 2:43pm (GMT+8), 11 April 2011 In a letter addressed to Mr Donald Tsang, The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, dated April 2011, President of the International Association of Art Critics-Hong Kong (AICAHK), John Batten, on behalf of the organisation’s Members, wrote that the association “condemned the arbitrary detention of intellectuals and critics in mainland China.” Excerpts from the letter follow:
Occurrences that have escalated since the awarding of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, including this week’s detention of the respected visual artist Ai Weiwei.
We demand that these arbitrary detentions cease, that all detainees who are unjustly held for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released and that their rights are respected as outlined under the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights….
We in Hong Kong are protected by the rule of law and our Association similarly believes that the mainland must immediately uphold moral standards to protect its people and the precious civil right of freedom of expression.
Photo 2 and 3 (above) (lime green banner that’s held up): “Release Ai Weiwei, Against using the ‘there need not be one’ charge to suppress dissenters.” (This is a famous charge used by a Song dynasty official to defame a loyal servant of the emperor, a story familiar to those from Hong Kong and mainland China.)
What can you do to express your support for Ai Weiwei? We list some options below (click on text to visit website):
- Sign Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation petition
- Sign Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation petition
- Vote for Ai Weiwei in the 2011 Time 100 Poll
- Call local embassy to demand Ai Weiwei release (Facebook event)
- Like the “Free Ai Weiwei” page on Facebook
- Change your Twitter profile picture to Tate “Free Ai Weiwei” (twitpic)
- Tweet or like Free Ai Weiwei, a support and information website set up by friends of the artist
*Please note that none of the above events, actions or organisations are particularly endorsed or favoured by Art Radar Asia. Should you have something to add to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and your submission will be considered for inclusion.
Ai Weiwei has not been heard from since he was arrested by police last Sunday (3 April, 2011). Click here for more on Ai Weiwei’s arrest.
- Hong Kong activist group hold Ai Weiwei rally on Sunday – event alert – April 2011 – information on the rally and more on Ai Weiwei arrest
- Ai Weiwei on why Ullens are quitting Beijing centre – TimeOut interview – March 2011 – Ai speculates on exhibition cancellation and the organisation’s impending management changes
- Ai Weiwei’s Shanghai studio demolition: top stories, photos, video – January 2011 – we collect and link to the top news, photos and videos
- Internet best gift to China says artist and social activist Ai Weiwei – November 2011 – Ai claims, “the Internet will bring [the Chinese government] to an end”
- Ai Weiwei’s studio party cancelled? Art Radar was there – November 2010 – on-the-ground report of the event that was a direct challenge to the Chinese authorities by artist Ai