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Famoso artista cinese picchiato dalla polizia e messo agli arresti

Il famoso artista cinese, Ai Weiwei, che ha contribuito al disegno dello stadio olimpico di Pechino “Bird’s nest”, denuncia che è stato picchiato e messo agli arresti dalla polizia per impedirgli di testimoniare a favore dell’attivista dei diritti umani Tan Zuoren.

Segue l’articolo in inglese ripreso dal New York Times del 13 agosto 2009.

BEIJING — A prominent Chinese artist and frequent critic of the Communist Party said he was hit by police officers and put under detention in his hotel room in western China on Wednesday when he tried to go testify at the trial of a civil rights advocate.

The artist, Ai Weiwei, best known for helping to design the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, said dozens of police officers barged into his hotel room early Wednesday and the rooms of others who had traveled to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, to testify on behalf of Tan Zuoren, the rights advocateThe opening session of Mr. Tan’s trial began Wednesday morning and ended hours later without a verdict. The courtroom was closed to the public. Mr. Tan, a well-known writer, has been charged with subversion. He is believed to be on trial because of his role in pushing for an official investigation into widespread school collapses during the Sichuan earthquake last year, and for trying to organize a group event in June to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre of civilians by government forces during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Earlier this month, another rights advocate, Huang Qi, went on trial on a charge of possessing state secrets. Like Mr. Tan, he pushed for the government to investigate the school collapses.

During the earthquake last year, thousands of students were killed when school buildings in Sichuan and other provinces crumbled, even as surrounding buildings remained standing. Grieving parents said shoddy construction and corruption were responsible, and demanded that officials investigate. Local governments went to great efforts to silence the parents, ordering the police to detain them, or handing out cash payments in exchange for the parents’ dropping their complaints.

Initial reports from the official news media said about 7,000 schoolrooms collapsed and as many as 10,000 children might have died. In May, the government released the first official toll of students killed, saying 5,335 were dead or missing.

Earlier this year, Mr. Ai sent volunteers to Sichuan to collect the names of students who had been killed. He began posting the names on his blog and kept a running tally. Government censors then blocked his blog, Mr. Ai said, while police officers in Sichuan detained some of his volunteers and beat a few of them.

Mr. Ai said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he had arrived in Chengdu the previous day to testify on behalf of Mr. Tan but that the judge did not allow him to. He said that he had planned to appear at court anyway but that he and 10 or 11 of his volunteers were prevented from doing so by the officers who barged into their hotel rooms and kept them under watch.

“They left a couple of hours later, but some stayed in the hallway and some in the lobby to keep an eye on us, to make sure we failed to attend the trial,” Mr. Ai said from the hotel.

Mr. Ai posted grainy digital photographs on Twitter of police officers in the hotel hallway.

Someone answering the phone at the police headquarters in Chengdu declined to comment.

The court did not allow anyone to testify on behalf of Mr. Tan at the trial on Wednesday, said Pu Zhiqiang, Mr. Tan’s lawyer.

He said he would submit a written defense statement to the court by Monday.

“However, unless this is an extremely rare case, Tan will be found guilty,” he said.

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