The detention of Ai WeiWei is just the latest in a series of crackdowns by the Chinese government to keep the people scared to speak up. The tragedy of the matter is that it is working. People are not speaking up or out, at least not in China. When I even mention it to my Chinese friends they immediately change the topic and move on to something else.
Not really sure I can blame them, after all we are not talking about some unknown person here, we are talking about one of the most influential artists in China today. Ai who can be compared to the Duchamp of Chinesse contemporary art has been at the center of controversy before. He was beaten for speaking up against the arrest of another when investigating the devastation to children during the 2008 earthquake in Shichuan province and detained for his speaking out on those and other events.
His recent arrest, or detention for those that like the civil word, comes at the mounting pressure of the Chinese government to squash the Jasmin movement. A movement inspirers in part by the protest in the Middle East to end injustice and bring about a democratic government. The movement was meant to be a peaceful deminstration of people who wish for a better China. As of yet the movement has gotten very little done, as the government is watching the web and monitoring emails in China to ensure that they can be on site to stop the protest before they even take shape.
Since the start of the Jasmin ideas in China some 30 to 50 people have been placed under house arrest. The list includes Ai WeiWei, Yang HengJun (a Chinese Australian writer), about 10 other journalist, 15 or so lawyers, and people who were traced by their emails or for being at the event. The exact number is not known as many of them are not as famous as Ai WeiWei and have gotten little attention. But this is nothing new in China, Noble Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has been detained for his involvement in movements in China and just last year Liu Xiaobo’s wife was detained for wanting to visit her husband and tell him about the award. And let’s not forget Dai Qing, detained a couple of times and than had his book banned in China for writing about the Three Gorges Dam.
what is most disturbing about all of this is the almost silent approval from other governments and the U.N. While there has been mentions in speeches and requests from governments for these people to be free, Europe and America are not putting a lot of pressure because of there need for trade with China. They are not even pulling aide or placing restrictions on the country, something which they have no problems doing in other parts of the world. If China is going to play on the world market, have a say in U.N. Policies, and hold itself as a new economic power than it is time it starts following the human rights of it’s citizens.