Worries for Diabetic Artist Ai WeiWei's Health in Jail

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Ai WeiWei, a world renowned artist and activist whose contemporary exhibit “Sunflower Seeds” just finished its eight month run at the Tate Gallery in London,  was taken into custody by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) in early April 2011.  Mr. Ai is best known as the architect who helped design the Olympic stadium in Beijing called the Bird’s Nest

Mr. Ai’s popularity is reflected in the fact that even as he is detained, his artwork continues to go on exhibit in New York and Berlin.  Many people have heard about this artist’s talent and his active criticism of the PRC, but many may not know that he is diabetic and may be suffering from a lack of medication for his diabetes.  It isn’t clear which type of diabetes Mr. Ai suffers from,  but based on age and other factors, it would be easy to assume he suffers from type 2 diabetes.  His wife, Lu Qing, is concerned that he does not have adequate medication or cannot easily take it according to numerous sources in the China press.  It is also unclear whether his medication is oral or if he uses insulin to control his diabetes.

Ai Wei Wei has high blood pressure, diabetes, needs to take medicine everyday, Lu Qing (his wife)  is worried about his health.
“Sing Tao” newspaper

Ai Wei Wei has high blood pressure, diabetes, wife, Lu Qing is worried that he can’t take medicine on a regular basis
“The Sun” newspaper

Ai WeiWei exhibit at the Tate - Sunflower Seeds

The New York Times reported that, Sunday, 2nd April 2011, Mr. Ai was detained by the PRC authorities as he was passing through Beijing Airport customs on his way to Hong Kong.  His Beijing artist studio was seized and ransacked hours later, and many of the studio employees, including expatriates from abroad, were detained and interviewed but eventually released.  Many of China’s dissidents or reform-minded intellectuals have been arrested in recent weeks on vague charges which has some interpreting this as the PRCs way of managing their fear of global repercussions related to dissent in the Middle East uprisings.

For further information:

Human Rights Foundation Appeal for Ai WeiWei

Human Rights Watch:  Ai WeiWei

MIT Press:  Ai WeiWei’s Blog, writings, interviews and digital rants 2006-2009 April 2011


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