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Label: passport

Wednesday 22nd July 2015Ai Weiwei's Passport Finally Returned

It's been something of a rollercoaster ride for Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei over the past few years. He's launched numerous art exhibitions around the world, had documentaries made about him and his struggles with the Chinese government, and been generally celebrated around the world as a rising star in the art world, but back home, the Chinese authorities have seemed less than enamoured. After being temporarily disappeared back in 2011 by the secret police, questioned repeatedly and subjected to psychological tortures, he was finally released - but without his passport. It was kept by the government to ensure that they could keep an eye on him, and he couldn't flee the country and become an external force for destabilizing the ruling leaders. It was a difficult time for the Communist regime, which was in the middle of a serious crackdown on political activists.

Finally, however, it appears that government sentiment towards Mr. Ai has softened, as today he received it back from the police, as evidenced by the Instagram photo he posted earlier showing the travel document. "When I got it back I felt my heart was at peace. I feel pleased. This was something that needed to be done. I was quite frustrated when my right to travel was taken away but now I feel much more positive about my condition. I think they should have given it back some time ago – and maybe after so many years they understand me better.”

There was a huge outpouring of support on social media as Ai posted his passport selfie, both from within China and around the world. Even some of the Chinese tabloids that are typically pro-Beijing were questioning whether or not it was time to move on from the whole debacle. Curiously, however, this move comes amidst yet another political crackdown throughout China, both regarding human rights and other political activism.

Unfortunately, as a prominent human rights attorney noted on Twitter, "“Congratulations Mr Ai Weiwei on getting your passport back. But having a passport doesn’t mean you can get out of China freely." The Chinese government is notoriously strict about controlling the movements of its citizens in and out of the country, but it seems that Mr. Ai will likely be granted his wish. Congratulations!

Posted on July 22nd 2015 on 04:17pm
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