Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

China: Ai Weiwei Released, but Colleagues Remain Detained

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 23 June 2011
Cite as Article 19, China: Ai Weiwei Released, but Colleagues Remain Detained, 23 June 2011, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Beijing, 23.06.11: Well-known Chinese artist and free expression advocate, Ai Weiwei, was released on bail after almost three months of detention on economic charges, on 22 June 2011. Ai's colleagues Hu Mingfen, Wen Tao and Liu Zhenggang, who reportedly disappeared shortly after his arrest, remain in detention.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Chinese government to ensure that any future legal processes against Ai are conducted in a transparent and open manner – with access to a lawyer as guaranteed by Chinese and international legal standards. The Chinese government has consistently rejected worldwide criticism of Ai's arrest, which many believe to be politically driven despite the economic charges of tax evasion brought against him.

"Ai Weiwei's detention has generated huge international outcry from human rights activists and the international arts community, who have actively campaigned for his release. Artists worldwide, including in China, are regularly repressed and their work censored. Art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received," said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"While the international community has rallied behind Ai's plight, we must not forget that his case is just the tip of the iceberg amidst a massive crackdown on public-interest lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists in recent months," continued Callamard.

Police detained Ai on 3 April 2011 at Beijing airport, as he was boarding a flight bound for Hong Kong.  In recent years he has openly criticised the government in his blogs and through his art works. 

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