By Nakul Arora:
Ai Weiwei, a prominent Chinese artist, recently put up four cameras within the premises of his house and started streaming them live on the internet for the world to see. He had set up a website weiweicam.com for this purpose. This move comes exactly a year after he was detained by the Chinese authorities under the pretext of being a risk to the National security. Mr Weiwei is known to be one of the worst critics of the Chinese Government and had been detained last year in April for 81 days. During his detention, he was interrogated a number of times under different charges such as inciting sedition to the state, tax evasion, distribution of obscene photographs and illegal money exchange. However, there were rumours that the real reason behind his arrest was a Chinese crackdown on activists following a call for Jasmine revolution in China.
Post his release last year, he is currently under probation for a year and is not allowed to leave Beijing. Also, he has been under constant surveillance and he states that there are at least 15 cameras installed outside his studio monitoring his daily routine. He further states that policemen in civilian clothes are posted outside his studio throughout the day and follow him around. Thus, the act of streaming himself live on the internet throughout the day is Mr. Weiwei way of protest against the constant surveillance. He stated that since he was under so much surveillance by the authorities every day, with everything from his phone to his office been checked on a regular basis, he decided to help the authorities out by putting himself under constant 24 hours surveillance. He has installed 2 cameras over his desk, one over his bed and one covering the outside courtyard.
The authorities didn’t really like the idea of the gift though and asked him to stop broadcasting immediately. Mr. Weiwei replied on twitter saying that he wouldn’t be shut down. However, the website stopped functioning a day later. Upon being questioned by a reporter, he said that he had shut down the website after being told by the authorities to do so.
Mr Weiwei has an active twitter account and recently gave an interview to human rights lawyer and friend Liu Xiaoyuan over twitter.
Chinese government, on the other hand, states that he was detained for tax evasion by the company handling his affairs.