China: China’s Version of the “Perp Walk”

 Ai Weiwei’s sister gives details of his confinement

 Gao spoke just before Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, and his attorneys appeared Thursday at the Beijing Taxation Bureau to challenge charges that Ai owes $1.8 million in back taxes and fines for a design company he is said to control, called Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. Lu is the company’s legal representative. The closed-door hearing, which lasted three hours, did not resolve the dispute. Afterward, Lu and Ai’s attorney, Xia Lin, said the process was unfair because they were not allowed access to documents that the government said had been seized during a raid of Ai’s studio.


excerptsSHANGHAI — AiWeiwei (spent) 81 days in a Beijing jail on tax evasion charges, spent his days of confinement in a tiny room with only a bed for furniture and two police officers who monitored his every movement, even standing next to him in the shower, his sister said Thursday.For exercise, Ai paced in the small room, only six floor tiles long. As he paced, the two officers walked behind him, said his older sister, Gao Ge. The room had one covered window.

Gao said that during his time in jail, Ai was not tortured and was given food and allowed to take his medications regularly. But, she said, the conditions of his detention constituted psychological pressure.“The room light was on 24 hours every day,” she said. “The only furniture in the room was a bed. Except for the bed, there was nothing else in the room, no chair, no desk. They didn’t offer Ai anything— no book, no newspaper, no TV, no radio, not even a piece of paper or a pen.”Gao said the two guards watched him constantly, never speaking; the officers changed shifts every three hours.“They stared at him without ever moving their eyes,” she said, adding that they stood close by even while he used the toilet. “And when he took a shower, they just stood right next to him, even though they were getting totally wet.

“Can you imagine the feeling of having four eyes always on you, no matter what you do?” Gao said. “If you lie down and go to sleep, they just stand at the side of the bed and look at you without a blink of the eye. When he had a walk in the room, they also followed him. These measures were designed to destroy people’s minds,” she said.

Lu said. “He is working on those ideas now. He stays at home, visits friends and receives visiting friends nowadays.”
Researcher Zhang Jie in Beijing contributed to this report.

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