» This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.
Receiving bail for any reason is a rarity in China, so he’s lucky. In Weiwei’s case, he confessed to committing tax evasion, which many activists claim is untrue. The world-famous artist, noted for his criticism of the country’s Communist Party, is out of jail as a result, but on a form of probation that doesn’t allow him to leave or talk to anyone. “I’m sorry I can’t (talk), I am on probation, please understand,” Ai told the Associated Press. Experts have said that international pressure is the only reason authorities released him (well, along with some health problems). Meanwhile, Weiwei, who says officials treated him well in prison, isn’t the only dissident forced to keep quiet after coming out of jail — hundreds of other outspoken opponents of the Chinese government have kept quiet after their arrests. source
[It is my] understanding the public security authorities are investigating Ai Weiwei according to law on suspicion of economic crimes… This has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression.Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei • Seeking to dismiss claims that his government arrested famed artist and dissident Ai Weiwei for political reasons, at a news conference. Weiwei’s family (in addition, frankly, to most everyone else) isn’t buying it. Chinese law states that officials must notify the family of an arrested citizen within 24 hours of the detention, and Ai’s wife has heard nothing: “As of 8 A.M. today, it has been 96 hours since Ai Weiwei was taken away from Beijing airport, and I haven’t heard a single word about him.” source (via • follow)
Western capitals are failing to understand the magnitude of what is happening now. The Chinese authorities are actively seeking to try to redefine the boundaries of which opinions are tolerable, and which are not.Nicholas Bequelin, researcher for Human Rights Watch in China • Speaking on the grim state of Chinese affairs, in the wake of the arrest of famed artist and dissident Ai Weiwei. He argues that the Chinese’s tightening grip over the citizenry indicates a meaningful shift towards more abject totalitarianism. Bequelin added: “We know for certain that there are lawyers who haven’t been arrested, but have been clearly threatened. They’ve been told ‘the gloves are off, we can do anything we like now’. One was informed that ‘the party has special ways to deal with people like you’.” source (via • follow)