Out of detention, outspoken artist Ai Weiwei mostly silent

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Out of detention, outspoken artist Ai Weiwei mostly silent


BEIJING - Outspoken artist and government critic Ai Weiwei talked about giving himself a haircut Thursday but said little else in his first day out of detention, living under a gag order that underscores concerns about China’s growing use of extralegal methods to muzzle dissent.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Ai was released from nearly three months of detention after confessing to tax evasion and pledging to repay the money owed.

His family denies the allegations and activists have denounced them as a false premise for detaining an artist who spoke out against the authoritarian government and its repression of civil liberties.

The Foreign Ministry said the conditions of Ai’s parole require him to report to police when asked and bar him from leaving Beijing without permission for one year. A ministry spokesman did not mention the gag order, but ever since his unexpected release, Ai has told the foreign reporters thronging the gate to his suburban Beijing workshop and home that he is not allowed to talk.

On Thursday, he emerged from the doorway with freshly cut hair and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with his name in black letters.

“I cut my own hair, looks more spirited,” he explained in Chinese. But he said he couldn’t give any interviews or say anything about his case.

“Of course, it’s great to be home,” he said.

In a sign of Ai’s continued appeal among some Chinese, several supporters showed up outside his compound Thursday, despite a police presence. Two Chinese men pasted posters, one in English and other in Chinese, that read “I love you Ai Weiwei” to the door of his compound.

In a phone conversation, Ai’s wife Lu Qing, said Ai had been forbidden to discuss conditions of his detention and release and was being followed by plain-clothes officers whenever he left the house.

“It may take a few days to get back to reality,” said Lu, who with Ai’s mother had been called to pick him up from a police station on Wednesday afternoon.

Internationally renowned for mocking, satirical art, the 54-year-old Ai became the highest profile casualty in a spring crackdown to stop Chinese from imitating the democratic uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Dozens of rights activists, lawyers and others have been detained, put under house arrest or disappeared, and several of those who have been released have kept almost totally silent ever since.

Meanwhile, the Gwangju Biennale Foundation of Korea issued a statement on Thursday welcoming the release of Ai, who is co-director of the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011.


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

중국, 아이웨이웨이 석방

구금 80일 만에 보석으로

중국 정부가 설치미술가이자 인권운동가인 아이웨이웨이(艾未未·애미미·53·사진)를 보석으로 석방했다고 관영 신화통신이 22일 보도했다. 지난 4월 중국 공안에 의해 구금된 지 약 80일 만이다. 공안당국은 이날 “아이웨이웨이가 자신의 조세포탈 혐의를 인정하고 세금을 다시 납부하겠다는 의사를 밝혔다”며 “반성하는 태도를 보이고 오랫동안 질병을 앓고 있다는 점을 고려해 그를 석방했다”고 밝혔다.

아이웨이웨이는 2008년 베이징 올림픽 메인스타디움인 냐오차오(鳥巢) 설계에 참여한 유명 설치미술가다. 하지만 인권 탄압을 이유로 베이징 올림픽 개막식에 불참하고 인터넷 검열 반대 운동을 주도하는 등 중국 당국에 비판적 목소리를 지속적으로 냈다. 지난해 2월엔 중국 정부의 예술구역 강제철거에 항의해 베이징(北京)에서 1989년 천안문 민주화 운동 이후 처음으로 집단시위를 벌이기도 했다. 지난 4월 3일 베이징 서우두(首都) 공항을 통해 홍콩을 방문하려다 비행기 탑승 직전 공안에 연행됐다. 중국 당국은 이후 아이웨이웨이가 운영하는 회사가 세금을 포탈하고 그 증거를 고의로 인멸한 혐의가 있어 그를 조사 중이라고 밝혔다. 미국과 유럽연합(EU) 등은 중국 당국을 강력히 비난하며 아이웨이웨이의 석방을 요구해왔다.

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