Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ai Weiwei colleague Wu Yuren on trial

Wu Yuren who describes himself as a freelance contemporary and conceptual artist on his Facebook page faced trial on Wednesday for what many of his supporters see as trumped up charges. Wu, a friend and colleague of renowned artist Ai Weiwei found himself arrested in June after he had gone to a police station to raise a complaint about a friend's landlord. But Wu was beaten and found himself detained and charged with obstructing justice.

His wife Karen Patterson now finds herself struggling to make sense of the events that sees her Chinese husband facing up to 3 years in jail. Tweeting from Beijing she relayed events as the trial began as did many of Wu's supporters including Ai Weiwei. Only three hand picked members of the public were allowed into what was believed to be an 'open trial'. Outside dozens of supports posted pictures on the Internet of those who had gathered to offer moral support. All of them were kept back behind the barrier including controversial artist Ai Weiwei who could be see remonstrating with police in some pictures posted via social media.

As those outside the courthouse filmed the events and took pictures, they too were filmed by plain clothes police. Meanwhile the gathering gradually turned into a 'cirucus' as petitioners arrived and began shouting about their own causes. "We are the homeless of the harmonious society," two women chanted.

Ai Weiwei has previously said the case illustrates how powerless ordinary citizens are before the law in China. "Wu Yuren is one of those cases where some stupid police at a very low level made a very stupid mistake, and now they're going to sentence Wu Yuren just to justify this decision."

Wu Yuren's wife is somewhat pessimistic but nonetheless determined to raise the profile of her husband's case. She has already written to everyone from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Fu Zhenghua, Beijing's new chief of police, in the hope that outside pressure might bring about a lighter sentence.

"It sometimes feels a little like, 'Why are we doing all this?'" Karen Patterson says. "But if it makes a difference between three years [in prison] and one year, or three years and two years, or maybe making sure the cops don't completely get away with it – something has to be done." Sadly the trial has gained little publicity or attention both inside or outside China except on social networks such as Twitter [Frontline Contemporary Artists / WuYuren / Art Threat / Globe & Mail]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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