Dissident artist speaks out after weeks of muted criticism
By Clifford Coonan in Beijing, The Independent, Aug. 30, 2011
“Beijing’s slaves squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises… Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.”
China’s best-known dissident, the artist Ai Weiwei, delivered a calculated and outspoken attack about repression in Beijing, in an apparent rebuke to the regime that had sought to secure his silence by detaining him for nearly three months.
Mr Ai criticised the police, judiciary and the unfairness of Chinese society despite controls imposed on his release on bail in June that were designed to minimise his ability to embarrass the leadership.
In a commentary for Newsweek magazine’s website, Mr Ai – best known for designing the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing – called the capital a “city of violence” where nobody could speak out because they were denied basic human rights. He also damned the legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which has been trumpeted as a victory of Communist Party organisation and source of national pride.