(HN, April 4, 2011) - Since Sunday, family and friends of renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei have heard nothing about his whereabouts. He was taken from the Beijing airport where he was about to board a plane to Hong Kong for work; from where he planned to travel on to Taiwan to discuss plans for a possible exhibition, an assistant said Monday.
Then his studio was raided, 8 assistants, a nephew and his wife artist Lu Quing were taken into custody but later released; his computers were confiscated, electricity cut – and since that time neither his family or friends of the artist whom HUMNEWS has been speaking with, have heard anything about his condition.
Friend and collector Larry Warsh says, “We’re still waiting. We hope to hear something tomorrow.”
In the meantime, both Germany and France have called for the release of Ai, and his detention raises fears among other Chinese activists that Ai, who along with dozens of other activists have been held over a six-week crackdown on dissent will be held indefinitely or charged with false crimes.
On Monday Liu Xiaoyuan, Mr. Ai's lawyer, chastised Chinese media via Twitter saying, “Ai Weiwei has been taken away, and his studio has been searched". "Whether Ai Weiwei is right or wrong, this is still really big news, a really hot topic. I never thought, never thought, that the domestic media would actually lose the power of speech, and act both deaf and dumb. Sad, really sad."
Ai’s wife, Lu Quing was released along with his staff on Monday afternoon, but Ai himself remained in custody.
Ai’s father, Ai Qing is one of China's most famous modern poets and has himself been detained by Chinese officials in the past. In the past few months’s dozens of other Chinese political activists, writers and lawyers have been taken into custody and held without trial and there have been anonymous calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" on the internet since February.
According to Chinese law, police can hold someone for questioning for 12 hours without allowing him or her to contact anyone. If police formally hold someone for investigation, the general law states they must notify that person's family in 24 hours.
Chinese authorities haven't acknowledged detaining Mr. Ai and all references to Ai seem to have been deleted from internet sites within China, according to HUMNEWS sources in country.
In the meantime, Ai Weiwei’s supporters continue to help his cause by calling for the artist’s immediate release, and by helping to fund the Kickstarter project (HERE) developed to help finish Alison Klayman’s film about his work. And a recent PBS, `FRONTLINE’ documentary entitled, “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei” can be seen (HERE).
Mr. Ai’s 12-piece sculpture, “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,’’ is scheduled to launch May 2nd in New York City and will be on display through July 15 at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in front of the Plaza Hotel at the edge of Central Park.