Target: Artist Ai Weiwei
Goal: Praise China-based artist for using his art to illustrate the human rights abuse in his country
China is a country known for silencing its protesters, activists, and journalists. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, and those who speak too loudly will be arrested by the police, interrogated, and sometimes tortured. Artist Ai Weiwei is challenging his country’s policy by displaying his work in the United States. Weiwei should be praised for his bravery and ideals, as speaking out has kept him under house arrest.
In 2011, Weiwei was seized by Chinese authorities for speaking against the government. He and other prominent activists were arrested for exercising their right to free speech. Weiwei was in police custody for 80 days where he was kept in a small room with a constant light source. Two police officers monitored and followed him, invading his space in the shower and when Weiwei exercised in his room. The government stated that Weiwei was arrested for “tax evasion,” but Weiwei’s arrest followed the seizure of many bloggers, human rights lawyers, and activists.
Weiwei is currently under house arrest. He is unable to leave his home and must request permission to do so. He is not allowed to give interviews, and his Twitter account has been inactive. His artwork, which was constructed in his Beijing studio, will be on display in Alcatraz on September 27, 2014. The showing and location issues a statement to China: No matter how confined the space, the human spirit will always find a way to speak out. Despite being harassed and interrogated by the police, Weiwei continues to exercise his right to freedom of speech. He should be praised for his bravery and determination to incite change in his oppressive home country.
Dear Ai Weiwei,
It saddens me that your country has placed you under house arrest because you are an individual who exercises his freedom of speech rights. Despite the harassment and torture you faced at the hand of the police, you continue to be a pioneer for change. I want to urge you to never let that passion die. If such a passion dies, there will never be hope for your country. Change does not come easy, but it can be achieved.
As an artist, you should have the right to express whatever feelings and ideals you want, but your country’s laws are prohibiting such acts. I am sure your artwork will touch many hearts, and hopefully it will also drive change in China.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Duyanpili via Wikimedia Commons