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Label: visa

Friday 31st July 2015Ai Weiwei's Troubles with Travel

Sometimes, it seems like Ai Weiwei just cannot catch a break. As we discussed recently, he had his passport confiscated back in 2011 when he was arrested by the Chinese government as part of a crackdown on suspected political activists. Ai, who is a vocal critic of the repressive policies of the Communist regime, is admittedly a political activist, in and of itself a brave act within the confines of China. At long last, earlier this year, his passport was finally returned, an apparent victory for the long suffering artist, who missed any number of his own shows and openings due to the effective travel ban. An apparent victory for freedom and cultural expression in China, some humans rights lawyers both in and outside China cautioned that travel may not be actually as simple as having a passport, but the sentiment within the country also appears to be swinging in his favour.

So what sort of a shock would it be to be given freedom of passage by the Chinese government, only to have your visa application rejected by the British government? Extremely unbelievable and frustrating, no doubt. Hoping to visit London in September for the opening of one of his shows, the first outside of China he has been able to attend in 4 years, his application for a six-month visa was rejected and he was granted a mere 20 day business visitor visa.

The grounds for the rejection are almost laughable: some overzealous bureaucrat determined that Ai had failed to disclose a supposed criminal conviction in China - something that is simply flat out wrong. The rejection letter cited a "matter of public record that you have previously received a criminal conviction in China, and you have not declared this”. The problem, of course, is that Ai was never charged, let alone convicted. He was detained on suspicions of a variety of trumped-up charges, which were never actually filed.

Fortunately, as outcry grew, someone higher up the food chain decided to take a hand in the matter: the home secretary herself, Theresa May. Ai was finally granted the full six-month visa he deserved, and received a written apology from May and the Home Office. In a written statement issued, the Home Office said, “The home secretary was not consulted over the decision to grant Mr Ai a one-month visa. She has reviewed the case and has now instructed Home Office officials to issue a full six-month visa. We have written to Mr Ai apologising for the inconvenience caused.”

Enjoy London, Mr. Ai!
 

Posted on July 31st 2015 on 05:42pm
0 Comments
Labels: ai weiwei, china, visa
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