Open Letter: Release Ai Weiwei


To Chen Yuming, Chinese Ambassador to Australia,

We write to you today in relation to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

As you may know Ai was detained on 3 April 2011 at Beijing airport by Chinese police. His studio was then sealed off and his staff and wife interrogated. All this occurred without any given reasons or charges lain.

When on 7 April the Chinese ministry announced that he had been arrested for alleged economic crimes no proof was given and no official charge made.
His studio was then searched again and on 9 April his accountant, driver Zhang Jingsong and studio partner Liu Zhenggang disappeared. Ai Weiwei’s assistant Wen Tao has also been missing since Ai’s arrest on 3 April.

It has now been 78 days since the disappearance of Ai. May 9 was the date that Ai should have been released unless there is an official charge. No official notifications have been given regarding his whereabouts or reason for detainment.

The EU and US have protested Ai’s detention and the international arts community has rallied behind his cause. The international Council of Museums has collected more than 90,000 signatures and countless petitions have been organised.

We are deeply concerned about the kidnapping and disappearance of Ai Weiwei and his colleagues. We call on the Chinese government to carry out fair and open legal proceedings.

We believe the arrest of Ai Weiwei represents a watershed. His arrest came days after his twitter comments about the Jasmine revolution and the arrest of such a high profile figure in China spreads the concern of human rights, freedom of speech and artistic expression.

We the creative community of Australia as friends and neighbours of China call for the immediate release of Ai Weiwei.


John Connell, Author and filmmaker (organiser)
Jane Campion, filmmaker
Warwick Thornton, filmmaker
David Malouf, author
Lisa Havilah, director Carriageworks
John Maynard, filmmaker
Chrissy Sharpe, director, the Wheeler Centre
Bridget Iken, filmmaker
Morry Schwartz, publisher
Anna Schwartz, gallery Owner
Beck Cole, filmmaker
Delia Falconer, writer
Natalie Wood, fashion designer
Professor Stuart Rees AM, Director, Sydney Peace Foundation
Duncan Graham, playwright
William Yang, photographer
Tony Ayers, filmmaker
Jeff Sparrow, writer, editor Overland literary journal
Tom Zubrycki, filmmaker
Gabrielle Carey, author
Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist and author
Debra Adelaide, vice president PEN Sydney
Kath Shelper, filmmaker
Robyn Martin-Weber, art consultant
Paola Morabito, filmmaker
Wendy Bacon, professor and journalist at University of Technology, Sydney
Jodie Passmore, filmmaker
Ben Ferris, director Sydney Film School
Annette Shun Wah, writer, actor, producer
Dr. Nicholas Ng, composer
Kevina Jo Smith, artist
Benjamin Law, writer
Mark Bradshaw, composer
Professor Rónán McDonald, Australian Ireland Fund Chair of Modern Irish Studies
Helen Bowden, producer
Mark Wakely, author
Xu Wang, artist
Sarah John, theatre director
Daniel Stricker, musician/label manager
Helen Fitzgerald, art director
Kirin J Callinan, musician
Jenna Price, journalist and academic
Danielle Zorbas, producer
Billy Maynard, photographer
Larin Sullivan, filmmaker
Vivian Huynh, copywriter/musician
Jack Jeweller, curator and writer
Jiao Chen, filmmaker
Chi Vu, writer director
Tom Cho, author
Benedict Andrews, theatre director
Andrew Santamaria, musician and environmental engineer
Tristan Ceddia, publisher
Rebecca Conroy, director billandgeorge
Hana Shimada, artist
Jonathan Zawada, designer/artist
Amelia Groom, author
Robert Milne, publisher
Matthew Hopkins, artist
Charlie Sofo, artist
Jeff Yiu, photgrapher
Caterina Scardino, stylist
Brami Jegan, activist
Russell Smith, lecturer ANU
Hugo O’Connor, producer
Sam Bryant, filmmaker
Dr Tseen Khoo, grant developer
Cinnamon van Reyk, museum curator
Brent Clough, broadcaster
Dr Simone Lazaroo, writer and senior lecturer, Murdoch University
Nicole Bearman, producer, cultural programs and events
Rebecca Frith, actor
Luke Bacon, composer
Trischelle Roberts, musician
Miska Mandic, musician
Vincent Plush, composer, music critic and radio announcer (ABC Classic FM)
John Eyley, lecturer in animation (Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art)
Neil Davey, president (Brisbane Spiritualist Church)
Dr Stephen Wild, researcher and academic
Denis French, museum copyright
Jocelyn Wolfe, music researcher
Lisa Cheney, composer
Kerry Walker, actor
Heather Phillips, filmaker and lecturer (Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art)
Dr Trish Fitzsimons, filmaker and lecturer (Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art)
Prof Herman Van Eyken, Head of School (Griffith Film School)
Fern Ong, pianist and radio presenter (ABC Classic FM)
Julian Day, composer and radio presenter (ABC Classic FM)
Christina Andreef, creative

A protest event will be held at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney at 11am-2pm on Thursday 23 Jun. Event details are here.


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