Demonstrations In Hong Kong Demand Ai Weiwei’s Release

Protesters gathered by the thousands this weekend in Hong Kong calling for the release of prominent artist Ai Weiwei from custody.

As I wrote two weeks ago, the detainment of Ai has captivated the proverbial global audience and will truly test the limits of the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissenters.

Photos from the demonstration had a little bit of everything: Guy Fawkes masks, cardboard cutouts of Ai himself and even artistic representations of his charges.

Click here for a photo slideshow of the protests from the Huffington Post.

Ai – who was detained earlier this month on charges of subversion – was first accused of “inciting subversion,” a phrase analogous to treason in China. Now he is being held under “economic crimes.”

But what I found particularly fascinating from reports of the protest was a quote collected by the AFP. According to their report, a mainland Chinese tourist in Hong Kong had not heard of Ai Weiwei’s detainment until she left for vacation.

“We only read about the detention of Ai Weiwei from Hong Kong newspapers when we got here for holiday five days ago,” said Libby Xu, a 30-year-old tourist from mainland China to the AFP.

Oh, and ironically enough, Ai was listed Friday among Time magazine’s list of the world’s “100 most influential people.” Go figure.

I guess it takes being arrested by the government via unsupported charges to truly make it in the art world.

About bmgottli

Benjamin Gottlieb is an investigative reporter, photographer and multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles, California. Growing up alongside highway 101 in Sherman Oaks, California, Gottlieb got his start in journalism as the assistant editor of his high school publication, the Knightly Times. Gottlieb received his B.A. in Global and International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern socioeconomics and politics, and a minor in Multimedia Writing. During his time at UC Santa Barbara, Gottlieb spent three years as a staff reporter and news editor for his school’s daily newspaper, the Daily Nexus. Gottlieb took First Place for Best Feature Story of 2007 in the California College Media Awards for his piece detailing a weekend with the school’s Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps. Gottlieb has interned at both the Santa Barbara Daily Sound and the award-winning alternative weekly, the Santa Barbara Independent. He remains a contributing writer for the Independent, and has published pieces on offshore drilling, prison reform and the 2009 California budget crisis. Gottlieb is currently a Director’s Scholar at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, pursuing a Masters of Arts in Online Journalism. He is also the senior news editor for USC Annenberg Digital News, a reporter for USC Annenberg Radio News and contributes to through the One Square Mile project, an experiment in hyper-local reporting.
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