Saturday, December 28, 2013

Remembering China's human rights record on imprisoned Nobel Laureate's birthday

"Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth." - Liu Xiaobo, December 23, 2009 Statement

Liu Xiaobo behind bars since 2008 and Liu Xia under house arrest since 2010
 Today, December 28, 2013 Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo is observing his 58th birthday and his fifth behind bars in a Chinese prison. He is a prisoner of conscience imprisoned in 2008 for his participation in the drafting of Charter 08. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since 2010 when her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Chinese authorities sentenced this peaceful activist to 11 years in prison on Christmas day in 2009 because he, and other activists, exercised the power of the powerless and wrote the truth about the current situation in China:
"There are laws but there is no rule of law. There is a constitution but no constitutional governance. And there is still the political reality that is obvious for all to see. The power bloc continues to insist on maintaining the authoritarian regime, rejecting political reform. This has caused corruption in officialdom, difficulty in establishing rule of law, and no protection of human rights, the loss of ethics, the polarization of society, warped economic development, damages in the natural and human environments, no systematic protection of the rights to property and the pursuit of happiness, the accumulation of countless social conflicts, and the continuous rise of resentment. In particular, the intensification of hostility between government officials and the ordinary people, and the dramatic rise of mass incidents, illustrate a catastrophic loss of control in the making, and the anachronism of the current system has reached a point where change must occur."
South Florida residents have the opportunity until March 16, 2014 to see first hand the consequences of corruption in officialdom and its impact on Chinese children.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami is exhibiting "Ai Weiwei: According to What?" PAMM offers the following description of this exhibition:
Ai Weiwei: According to What? is the first major international survey of this vital artist’s multifaceted artistic oeuvre. This exhibition reveals Ai’s practice as emerging from an ever-questioning dialogue with the social, political and cultural positions of his native China and the world at large. Ai (b. 1957) works in a range of media, including architecture and design, and this exhibition will feature work of the last 20 years, including photography and the large-scale sculptures for which the artist is best known. These sculptures, often made from modified found objects, suggest the irreverent nature of Ai’s project and reconfigure materials in new and evocative ways. With a broad formal range, Ai has continuously challenged possible meanings and modes of art making, most recently employing the Internet and its global reach as a platform for activism and expression. His provocative and beautiful works of art and architecture are an exploration of the transformative potential of contemporary art, which he said is “not a form but a philosophy of society.”
Although not necessary, would also recommend viewing the documentary Never Sorry exhibited at the Miami Film Festival in 2012 and later that same year at the University of Miami. The film provides context in which much of the work of this Chinese artist's exhibit was made.

Ai Weiwei: According to What? at PAMM Photo by P.U.
In the meantime take a few minutes out of your day to petition the Chinese authorities to free Liu Xiaobo while at the same time remembering that he is not the only one imprisoned for his beliefs.

Ai Weiwei: According to What? exhibit at the Pérez Art Museum Miami through March 16, 2014 located at 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132. Museum hours: Closed Mondays; Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 6pm; Thursday 10am - 9pm Tickets cost $12 for adults and $8 for students.  For more information regarding the exhibition call: 305.375.3000

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