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Ai Weiwei: Officials breach human rights over migration

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Prague, Feb 5 (CTK) – Human rights are a fundamental, essential matter and there is no difference between human righs in different parts of the world, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei told CTK on Friday in Prague, where he arrived to present his work.

It is like a distance, a metre or a kilometre. You always have to cover it by walking. If people say human rights are different in different locations, it amounts to “misinterpretation and misunderstanding of human rights,” Ai Weiwei said.

“I don’t think there is any difference in human rights,” he said.

He said some politicians, when trading with China, turn a blind eye to the violation of fundamental human rights in the country.

The European politicians who do so are opportunists, he added.

“That’s human nature. They always make a short-cut, they’re always trying to profit by other people’s shortage, by somebody’s being deficient or in disadvantage,” Ai Weiwei said.

Many people from the business field and Western politicians seize opportunities without respecting the need of human rights observance.

“They understand perfectly where their profits have come from,” Ai Weiwei said.

Human rights have been defined, but even in the West they fail to be observed, as the current migrant crisis has shown, he said, giving Denmark with its recent measures as an example.

In reaction to the new Danish asylum legislation, which enables the seizure of valuables from immigrants, Ai Weiwei decided to withdraw his works from Danish museums and galleries.

Ai Weiwei joined his wife and son in Berlin after Chinese authorities returned his passport to him after four years in 2015. Nevertheless, he plans to return to China though he may face persecution there, he said.

“As long as we are in a society which is not very transparent, the danger is always there, because it happens once, it can happen the second time and the third time, and it happened not only to me, but [also] to my friend, to my lawyer, to many people I know, and they are still behind the bars or they are still somewhere nobody knows where,” Ai Weiwei said.

Asked whether he believes that the regime in China will change one day, he said “it is changing, but nobody really knows in what direction because it is not a society where you can have an open discussion on those matters.”

Chinese society is not transparent, arguments are of no use, Ai Weiwei said, adding that China is changing in many respects, though he does not know how long it would take to change.

Recently, Ai Weiwei focused several of his projects on refugees. He also devoted to them the presentation of his Zodiac work of art in Prague on Friday, a series of giant sculptures representing the the Chinese Zodiac figures.

He unveiled his Zodiac outside Prague’s Trade Fair Palace on Friday evening.

Before, on Thursday, he covered the sculptures with a thermofoil, similar to that refugees are given when rescued from the sea on their way to Europe, in order to draw attention to the human dimension of the refugee crisis, to the stories of individual people and children who suffer, and some even die in search of freedom.

By using the thermofoil, Weiwei also hinted at what he called the embarrassing unwillingness of the Czech people to accept refugees.

He said their unwillingness mirrors the attitudes of Czech politicians and is “really short-sighted.”

Human rights are not only a result but also “a moving force” of a society, which cannot make a progress without human rights observance, Ai Weiwei said.

He said there exists no excuse for intellectuals and artists keeping silent about the current situation, because the crisis is a human crisis, it is no problem faced by a particular group.

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