Our friends over at Iconophilia have posted an open letter to the Prime Minister:
Concerning the detention of the artist Ai Weiwei and numerous other Chinese citizens:
The Honourable Julia Gillard MP
Dear Prime Minister,
I understand that you will be making an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from the 25th to 28th April.
May I draw your attention to the recent reports in the press that 54 “dissidents” have been detained by the Chinese Government in the past two weeks.
Most notable among the many significant figures in this group is the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, who appears to have been detained under a series of variously mysterious accusations. All the evidence suggests this an extra-judicial process, as Australians would understand it.
His detention has been condemned by the unprecedented number of highly placed international institutions, artists and public intellectuals I have listed below.
Notable among these has been a spokesman for the U.S. Head of State Hillary Clinton, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Given Australia’s proud history of democratic rights and robust political debate, this recent rash of arrests and the consequential suppression of civil liberties and freedom of speech deserves your most serious attention. Just as the destiny and wellbeing of our two countries are closely tied together, so are our two systems of social justice. As an Australian citizen I urge you to raise these matters in your discussions at the highest level with the Chinese Government.
19th April, 2011