Gao Ying, Ai Weiwei’s mother
After dissident-artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) was freed from an 81-day detention and slapped with a RMB15 million fine for tax evasion, a princely sum he has been given 15 days to cough up, his mother Ai Ying (高瑛) did what any mother would. She began looking for things to sell. Together with her other son Ai Dan (艾丹), she announced that the former residence of her husband, the poet Ai Qing (艾青), was now up for sale.
She explains why she did what she did in an open letter to the people of China. In the letter, she says that she has taken down a photo she took with President Hu Jintao that had been hanging on her wall:
After Ai Qing (艾青) passed away, Hu Jintao, who was then already a member of the Politburo [of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China], came to see me as a representative of the central leadership, to convey kindness on behalf of the leaders. …
After Ai Weiwei was disappeared in April, the family heard nothing of him. Looking at the picture I had taken with Hu Jintao that was hanging in my house made me uncomfortable. … So, I took down that photo and replaced it with a photo of our whole family. Ai Weiwei was inexplicably detained at the airport, and we had no idea where he was taken to. Is it fair to casually turn a person into an enemy, and an object of hatred? I have these words for the authorities: creepy, crooked, evil.
What is the proof of Ai Weiwei’s “crimes”? It is that he said a few words of fairness about a big incident in the country [the Sichuan earthquake]. He spoke up in order defend the rights of common people…. The result: misfortune on our family. When the schools collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake due to shoddy construction, Ai Weiwei spoke out to get justice for the children who died. None of the children who died were our own.
Ai Weiwei was silent for a few months. If he does not speak, and if I, as his mother, do not support him, it’s possible that he will lose his freedom again. How terrifying! During the time that he lost his freedom, he was held in a small cell with the light on 24 hours a day. He rose at 6:30 a.m. every day; the police monitoring him worked in three-hour shifts, and they watched him when he ate and when he used the toilet. During the 81 days that Ai Weiwei was held, I was a wreck and cried my eyes dry. I don’t hear so well now, and my eyesight is poor. I am already 80 years old. As long as I live, I want to have my son by my side. I don’t want to fail as a mother. I will always support my son.