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Taiwan groups call for release of Chinese artist Ai

2011/05/03 14:29:18

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Several Taiwanese groups pressed thegovernment Tuesday to speak out against China's imprisonment ofChinese artist Ai Weiwei, saying the more support Ai gets, the betterhis chances of being treated well and released.

The 53-year-old Chinese avant-garde artist and political activistwas detained in China April 3 as he was preparing to board a flightto Hong Kong. He has been charged with unspecified economic crimes.

Over the past month, artists and activists in the internationalcommunity have been calling on Beijing to immediately free Ai.Demonstrations against his detention have been held in the U.S., UK,Germany and Hong Kong.

"We urge President Ma Ying-jeou to speak out against thetreatment of Ai and to condemn the Chinese government's actions, "said political commentator Paul Lin at a press conference Tuesday.

Describing Ai as the conscience of China society, Lin said theartist could have been living a comfortable life had he not chosen totake the side of disadvantaged groups in China.

Ai helped design the showcase 2008 Beijing Olympic Bird's NestStadium, which means his artistic abilities were recognized by theChinese government, said Lin, founder of the Taiwan YouthAnti-Communist Corps.

Despite being harassed and beaten up for speaking out on thepowdered milk scandal in China and the loss of young lives in thecollapse of schools during the Sichuan earthquake, Ai continued to dowhat he thought should be done, Lin said.

Lee Min-yung, a poet and also a political commentator, sharedLin's views, saying dissidents are a force of progress in a countryand should be protected and supported. He also called on localartists to come forward to support Ai.

Lawyer Huang Di-ying, a committee member of the Taipei BarAssociation, noted that President Ma signed into law two keyinternational human rights conventions -- the International Covenanton Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant onEconomic and Cultural Rights in 2009 -- which safeguard the universalvalues of human rights, including the freedom of speech.

"The U.S., Germany, France, and UK governments have asked Beijingto release Ai, but Ma has not yet said anything," Huang noted.

Asked by reporters what can be achieved by President Ma joiningthe calls for Ai's release, the lawyer said past experience showsthat the more support an imprisoned activist has, the greater thechances of him being released and being treated well.

Other groups that have expressed support for Ai include AmnestyInternational Taiwan, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, theTaiwan Association of University Professors, the Deng LibertyFoundation, and the Taiwan Friends of Tibet.

Ai was named by Time magazine this year as one of the 100 mostinfluential people in the world.

(By Hermia Lin)
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