Protesters in Germany demand release of Ai WeiweiApril 18th, 2011 - 12:03 am ICT by BNO News
BERLIN (BNO NEWS) — Around 150 demonstrators on Sunday demanded the release of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei in front of the Chinese embassy in Berlin.
The German DPA news agency reported that protesters, including human rights activists and politicians, set up chairs for a ’sit-in’ protest and waved placards bearing the question, ‘Where is Ai Weiwei?’
In Munich around 80 people set up chairs outside the Chinese consulate and held signs demanding the artist’s release, while smaller groups gathered in Hamburg and the town of Minden.
The dissident, who had planned to open a studio in Berlin, was arrested in Beijing on April 3, days after a high-profile German enlightenment exhibition opened on the city’s Tiananmen Square. His detention has brought widespread criticism from human rights groups and governments all over the world.
Beijing has released no details of his whereabouts but has confirmed he is being investigated for suspected economic crimes, denying his arrest is related to freedom of speech.
Sunday’s protest was part of an international call, organized online, to set up 1,001 chairs at 1pm local time in cities including New York, London, Moscow and Hong Kong, in reference to Ai’s 2007 art project Fairytale. Earlier in the day, Ai’s sister Gao Ge expressed doubt that popular protest would help his release.
“At the same time, I don’t think the international demonstrations will worsen his situation,” she told DPA, adding that she had had no news of his whereabouts.
Guenter Nooke, Germany’s former human rights envoy and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, was among the demonstrators in Berlin.
“Of course I am personally interested in such campaigns to remind the Chinese that, if they are to be taken seriously internationally, they need to stick to a few rules,” Nooke told the German press agency.
Merkel has also sent a direct appeal to the Chinese leadership, expressing her concern for Ai and appealing for his release.
On Saturday, Amnesty International activists gathered at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to demand the artist’s release, who has become increasingly active in the human rights movement in China in recent years.
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