International Community Needs to Take Action
(full article HERE)
“China’s persecution aimed at activist-artists must stop,” said The Voice Project’s executive director Hunter Heaney in a statement issued on Wednesday, June 4, following the recent detention of the Chinese born Australian artist Guo Jian.
Detained activist-artist Guo Jian
The 52-year old artist was recently detained in China, in what is clearly part of that country’s recent crackdown on artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen, in an effort to deter remembrances and coverage of the event. The Voice Project is calling for the release of Guo and a halt to China’s crackdown on activist-artists and other voices of dissent.
Guo took part in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and under pressure from authorities had relocated to Australia in the early 1990′s. Guo became an Australian citizen and built his art career an international reputation in Sydney. In 2005 he returned to China and settled in the Songahuang arts community, in the eastern suburbs of Beijing. Guo recently completed a provocative new artwork depicting a diorama of Tiananmen Square covered in ground pork:
Guo Jian’s installation, “The Square”, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square covered in ground pork
On Sunday, Guo told an AP reporter and friends via text message that police were removing him from his home in Songzhuang.
The detention of artists such as Guo Jian around the Tiananmen anniversary also coincides with China’s recent detention of Tibetan artists for performances protesting Chinese abuses in that region. The 27-year- old Tibetan singer Gebey (sometimes spelled Gepe, Gebe, or Gaybay) was taken into custody on May 24 after performing songs which spoke to the need to preserve Tibetan language and culture, at it is reported that at least 11 other musicians are currently imprisoned for pro-Tibetan performances.
“The scale and scope of China’s human rights abuses and persecution of dissenting voices such as activist-artists has reached what should be a tipping point in the consciousness and reaction of the international community,” said Heaney.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the federal government will do whatever it can to secure the release of Guo Jian. “The Australian Government stands ready to extend all possible consular assistance to Mr. Guo.” said Bishop.
About The Voice Project
The Voice Project is a non-governmental organization focused on defending activist artists and promoting freedom of expression as an agent of social change. The organization notably led international support efforts for the imprisoned members of the Russian dissident art collective Pussy Riot, as well as a recent artist-led public campaign for leniency in the sentencing of Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMilan. The project was founded in 2009 to support singers in northern Uganda calling for the return of abducted child soldiers from the Lords Resistance Army, but has since expanded with advocacy efforts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Russia, China, Afghanistan, and the United States.