Thursday 27 September 2012

Ai Weiwei loses appeal over tax evasion

Poster of  2012 Alyson Klayman's documentary
"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"
As we reported in several posts here and again here on this blog, the world famous Chinese artist was condemned by Bejing authorities for tax evasion. 

Ai and his company Fake Cultural Development Ltd presented appeal against such sentence, accusing the tax bureau of violating laws in handling witnesses, counterfeiting evidences and company accounts. 

Ai said authorities have repeatedly denied him his legal rights and failed to follow basic procedures. For instance, Beijing court should have given him written notice of its judgment three days in advance, but instead notified him by phone on Wednesday, the day before the ruling. The short notice meant his lawyers weren't able to attend because they were travelling, he said.

Chinese authorities have today rejected  his second and final appeal against a $2.4m tax fine. Ai paid this guarantee in part with donations via wire transfers or from supporters who stuffed cash into envelopes or wrapped bills around fruit and threw the items into his yard. That deposit will automatically be collected by the tax bureau now, artist said.

Ai also claimed authorities have yet to return his passport, effectively barring him from leaving the country. The passport was taken after Ai was detained without explanation for three months last year. Not having the passport prevented him from going to exhibitions of his work and other engagements in Washington, New York and Berlin.

The artist and his supporters have interpreted the penalty as official retaliation against his activism. A sculptor, photographer and installation artist, Ai has used his art and online profile to draw attention to injustices in Chinese society and the need for greater transparency and rule of law.

We guess his celebrity will raise after this final conviction and after a documentary about him, "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry", which opened in the United States in July 2012, reporting several clashes he had with Chinese regime: in 2011 his studio was destroyed; afterwards police in Sichuan invaded his hotel room in the middle of the night beating him so severely that he had to undergo surgery in Germany for a cranial hemorrhage. When he tried to file a complaint at a police station, his effort was thwarted by bureaucracy.

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