Ai Weiwei not free yet: Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation calls for his unconditional freedom

The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation will be presenting renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei with the 'Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Award for Courage,' in recognition of his heroic dedication to free speech and democratic principles. The award will be presented at a ceremony during the 'Arts for Human Rights' Benefit Gala in London on October 14th, 2011. I appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao to lift Ai Weiwei's bail conditions, to give him his unconditional freedom, and to allow him to travel to London to receive the award.


Ai Weiwei, world famous artist, and courageous advocate of human rights, and individual freedoms, is on the 2011 TIME 100 poll of the most influential people in the world. TIME cites the 'compassion' he has shown for his fellow citizens, and how he has 'spoken out for victims of government abuses, calling for political reforms to better serve the people. 'It is very sad,' TIME says, 'that the Chinese Government has seen a need to silence one of its most innovative and illustrious citizens.'


Ai Weiwei was held by the Chinese authorities on 3rd April 2011 as he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong. His wife, friends and staff were also detained and questioned. Police searched his Beijing studio, confiscated his computer hard-drives and later made allegations of 'economic crimes.' His unjust incarceration lasted 81 days. The US, EU, UK, Germany, France, Australia, and many other countries publicly called for Ai Weiwei to be released, as well as many leading figures in the art world. The artist has been an outspoken critic of the government. He was placed under house arrest in November of last year, after resisting the demolition of his studio in Shanghai by the authorities. In 2009 he was hospitalised after being beaten by police for attending a fellow human rights campaigner's trial.


Ai Weiwei was released on bail on 22nd of June 2011, with restrictions to his freedom of speech and movement. He is confined to the house between 8 pm and 10 am. Ai Weiwei's arbitrary detention and the continued imposition of arbitrary bail conditions are in contravention of his right to freedom, and to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  Article 19 and Article 9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China is a signatory.


A new disturbing proposed amendment to China's Criminal Procedure Code would 'boost secret detention powers,' allowing 'Those suspected of committing state security crimes, terrorist crimes and major bribery crimes' to be held at locations outside usual detention centres, and in state security and other sensitive cases, police do not have to tell the families 'if notification could hinder investigations.'

'They can make me disappear, Ai Weiwei said in an interview from this studio in China in September. 'I have no protection, no lawyer. So I have to be careful... because I may lose my life. I don't think there is any form of law [that] can protect me.'

Ai Weiwei's wife, Lu Qing, wrote a letter to the legislative working committee of the National People's Congress, asking that they 'reject draft legislation that would cement in law police powers to hold dissidents in secret locations without telling their families... If the above measures are passed,' writes Lu Qing, 'it will be a regression for China's legal system, the deterioration of human rights, and will be a hindrance to the progress of our civilization.'  


Ai Weiwei is perhaps best known for his collaboration with architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the Olympic  Bird's Nest stadium. His 100 million Sunflower Seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern in London was a resounding success. Adrian Searle writes, in the Guardian: 'It is audacious, subtle, unexpected but inevitable. It is a work of great simplicity and complexity. Sunflower Seeds refers to everyday life, to hunger (the seeds were a reliable staple during the Cultural Revolution), to collective work, and to an enduring Chinese industry... Ai is the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China.'
 
Ai Weiwei's life and work are emblematic of the values we are honouring at 'Arts for Human Rights,' the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Benefit Gala. It is our hope that the Chinese government will allow him to attend the award ceremony in London and accept the Award for Courage.


Ai Weiwei is a hero for free speech and his art could be a symbol of China's growing leadership in the world, but the Chinese authorities have chosen instead to try to erase him from the national and cultural memory. We are concerned about his future.


We must continue to stand with Ai Weiwei, and all those who have been unjustly, or secretly detained in China. Please sign the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation's petition urging the Chinese government to step up to its global leadership position and stop the persecution of political critics. Please help us obtain unconditional freedom for Ai Weiwei. If enough of us take action now, we can make sure that Chinese voices of freedom are not silent forever.



With hope,



Bianca Jagger


Follow on Twitter @BiancaJagger


Join the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation fan page on Facebook


Dear Premier Hu Jintao,


The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation will be presenting renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei with the 'Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Award for Courage,' in recognition of his heroic dedication to free speech and democratic principles. The award will be presented at a ceremony during the 'Arts for Human Rights' Benefit Gala in London on October 14th, 2011. I respectfully appeal to you to lift Ai Weiwei's bail conditions, to give him his unconditional freedom, and to allow him to travel to London to receive the award. 


Although he has now been released after 81 days incarceration at an undisclosed location, he is bound by bail conditions which limit his movement and freedom of speech.


Ai Weiwei is on the 2011 TIME 100 poll of the most influential people in the world. TIME cites the 'compassion' he has shown for his fellow citizens, and how he has 'spoken out for victims of government abuses, calling for political reforms to better serve the people. It is very sad,' TIME says, 'that the Chinese Government has seen a need to silence one of its most innovative and illustrious citizens.'

Ai Weiwei's arbitrary detention and the continued imposition of arbitrary bail conditions are in contravention of his right to freedom, and to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  Article 19 and Article 9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China is a signatory.

I am also concerned about the new, disturbing amendment which has been proposed to China’s Criminal Procedure Code, which would 'boost secret detention powers' and allow 'Those suspected of committing state security crimes, terrorist crimes and major bribery crimes' to be held at locations outside usual detention centres, and in state security and other sensitive cases, police would not have to tell the families 'if notification could hinder investigations.'


'Ai is the best artist to have appeared since the Cultural Revolution in China,' writes Adrian Searle in the Guardian. Ai Weiwei’s collaboration with architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron on the design for the Olympic  Bird's Nest stadium was internationally acclaimed. His 100 million Sunflower Seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern in London was a resounding success. 'It is audacious, subtle, unexpected but inevitable,' Searle goes on to write, of the exhibition. 'It is a work of great simplicity and complexity. Sunflower Seeds refers to everyday life, to hunger (the seeds were a reliable staple during the Cultural Revolution), to collective work, and to an enduring Chinese industry...'

Ai Weiwei is a hero for free speech. His life and work are emblematic of the values we are honouring at 'Arts for Human Rights,' the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Benefit Gala. We respectfully urge to you to allow him to attend the ceremony in London and accept the Award for Courage. Ai Weiwei's art is symbolic of China's growing leadership in the world and his outstanding accomplishments have given him worldwide recognition. Your government has the opportunity to demonstrate its leadership on the global stage by ending these unjust detentions, and by lifting Ai Weiwei's bail conditions, guaranteeing him his unconditional freedom.


I thank you in advance for your attention to this urgent matter.


Respectfully,


Bianca Jagger


Founder and Chair, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation


Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador


Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council Of Amnesty International USA

Sign Petition

privacy policy

By signing, you accept Care2's terms of service.

Having problems signing this? Let us know.