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Ai Weiwei has surgery in Germany after attack by Chinese police

from Freize:

Ai Weiwei has undergone surgery for cerebral haemorrhage in a Munich hospital four weeks after being beaten up severely by Chinese policemen in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China. In previous months Weiwei had been documenting and publicizing the names of more than 5000 children who had died under collapsing, ill-constructed school buildings in the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The alleged attack came on 12 August, the night before he planned to attend the trial against fellow investigator and activist Tan Zuoren, who was charged with ‘subversion’.

Suffering headache since then, which had become more severe during his stay in Munich (he is there in preparation for a show at Haus der Kunst), Weiwei went for a check-up, and doctors advised an emergency operation, he told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Here is an account of activist lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan:

On the night of September 13, I gave Ai Weiwei a phone call to ask him to write a foreword to a collection of poetry by a Suzhou-based poet. Ai told me that he was away in Germany on business and would not be back for a month. If the poet was in a hurry, he was afraid that he did not have the time. I told the poet what Ai said, and the poet said that he’d be more than willing to delay publication if Ai would write him a foreword.

Tonight at half past nine, I got a call from Ai’s assistant Xiao Xu, who said that Ai had been suffering from a headache ever since the violent encounter with the Chengdu police a month ago. It had gotten serious all of a sudden today, and a medical checkup in German had determined that “trauma-induced hemorrhage between the brain and skull”, epidural hematoma, perhaps), and the doctors told him to have surgery immediately. Xiao Xu asked me what to do. I said, health is the primary concern. Save documentation of the treatment, and after it’s over, you can have it authenticated by the Chinese embassy in Germany and bring it back to China as evidence.

After I hung up, I sent a text message to Ai. He replied, “I’m outside the operating room waiting for surgery to be arranged. Don’t worry!”

I sent him another message after reading his, but he didn’t reply. He probably was already in surgery.

Since the negotiations in Chengdu, Ai Weiwei has spoken a number of times about legal procedures. I think that even if we are to complain to police supervisors and the letters and petitions office, it’s better to let them make their own investigation first and see what answers they come up with. If there is no reasonable solution, then it’s not too late to start legal proceedings. I reminded him that there may be no resolution through the legal process. Ai said that regardless of the outcome, he would seek an answer according to the law.

Using the pretense of a routine inspection, the police harassed defense witnesses in the dead of night, leveled trumped up charges against Hong Kong journalists, and used violence without taking responsibility for it: do rights and the laws even exist in their eyes?

Ai Weiwei has been complaining for a month, but to date the Chengdu PSB has made no response (two months are allowed, but checking up on the matter would require only a couple of days, so they’re obviously delaying). We’ve decided to wait until after the 60th Anniversary has passed, and if the police have not taken the initiative to contact us, we will seek them out.

May things go peacefully and smoothly for Ai Weiwei!

From Artforum:


The Chinese artist, architect, and activist Ai Weiwei has been hospitalized in Munich for a cerebral hemorrhage. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Henrik Bork reports, Ai accuses the Chinese government and claims that he suffered the injury due to police brutality in the Chinese province of Sichuan. “I was operated on yesterday evening at 10 PM,” said Ai, who has been documenting the entire process at Munich’s Klinikum Großhadern on his Twitter feed. The surgery occurred last Monday; Ai was in Munich in preparation for his upcoming show at Munich’s Haus der Kunst.

“[The police] hit me so hard that I could have had light permanent damage,” Ai told the newspaper on the phone from his hospital bed. “What does that say about our state, which is just getting ready to celebrate its sixtieth year of existence, when this is the answer to legal investigations?” Ai believes that the police brutality came about as a result of his research into the “tofu school” scandal: Thousands of children died in schools across the Sichuan province during the May 2008 earthquake because the schools had been so poorly constructed. Ai put pressure on the government to explain corruption in the construction of the schools. When Ai returned to Sichuan in August to follow the trial against another fellow activist, Tan Zuoren, he was “hit hard on the head” by police in a Chengdu hotel, according to his own account.

“Since they hit me, I have suffered headaches and could no longer concentrate,” said Ai, who finally went to a doctor after the pain increased during his German stay. The director of neurosurgery in the Klinikum Großhadern advised an emergency operation: two holes in his cranium in order to reduce the pressure. “The patient is doing well,” said a representative for the clinic, who added that Ai will be stay for “a few days” more at the clinic under observation. Ai, who has decided to convalesce in Munich, hopes to attend his opening at the Haus der Kunst on October 11. He was also slated to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in mid-October.