Chinese government attempts to deflect criticism with Ai Weiwei release
Ai Weiwei’s release on bail by the Chinese government must not diminish the international outcry about other activists detained during this year’s ‘Jasmine’ crackdown, Amnesty International said today. According to Chinese state media, Ai Weiwei was released "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.” The renowned artist had been detained without charge since 3 April. Ai Weiwei’s release coincides with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to UK and Germany, countries where Ai has strong professional ties and public support.“His release on bail can be seen as a tokenistic move by the government to deflect mounting criticism.” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific.“It is vital that the international outcry over Ai Weiwei be extended to those activists still languishing in secret detention or charged with inciting subversion.”Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of Ai Weiwei’s four associates Wen Tao, Hu Mingfen, Liu Zhenggang and Zhang Jinsong, who all disappeared into secret detention after Ai was detained. Ai Weiwei is one of over 130 activists, lawyers, bloggers and tweeters detained since February in a sweeping crackdown on dissent prompted by government fears of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ inspired by the Middle East and North Africa. “While Ai Weiwei’s release is an important step, he must now be granted his full liberty, and not be held in illegal house arrest as has been the pattern with so many others recently released from arbitrary detention.” said Catherine Baber.“The reality is that his long detention without charge violated China’s own legal process."