China comes down hard on high profile dissident

While the world’s attention has been focussed on the efforts of the pro-democracy movement in the Middle-East, China has been cracking down hard on dissidents.

Since February 16, 2011, 25 lawyers, activists and internet bloggers have been detained, arrested or disappeared. Human Rights Watch describes how China’s

“current crackdown on activists…is the most severe in decades”.

One of the most high profile arrests has been that of Ai Wei Wei a well-known

Chinese artist

. Some within China think the decision by authorities to target such a high profile artist is intended to send a signal that no dissension will be tolerated no matter how high profile the person.

Ai is well known throughout the western art world and has had big installations at art meccas such

as the Tate modern



US and various European governments

have called for Ai’s release and hopefully the New Zealand government is aware of the situation and willing to follow suit.

If China gets away with taking out such respected critics, then the situation will certainly be grim for those with a lesser profile and that should be of concern to the whole world.