Ai Weiwei’s Mother Speaks About Son’s Detention
Thanks media for their support: ‘I am not alone.’
On April 3, Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei was arrested in Beijing
airport as he prepared to board a plane for a flight to Hong Kong. He was later
charged with tax evasion—a charge his supporters believe was merely a pretext
for silencing him.
While Ai Weiwei was held, no Chinese official deigned
to explain to his family where he was being held, much less provided the
opportunity to visit him.
This uncertainty added to the ordeal Ai
Weiwei’s 77-year old mother Gao Ying faced. In her interview with NTD, she thanks the media around the world for their support while her son was
She says the 81 days that Ai
was detained has been the most painful period of her life, but the media
attention from around the world gave her strength and made her feel she was not
The interview follows:
Please talk about how you will continue from now on, because Ai still needs to
face the authorities’ charges. You can choose the topics to discuss. Thank you.
Gao Ying: Let me tell you, I can say whatever I
have to say in any situation, I feel what I have to say is all correct and I
have no hesitation.
I don’t know any of the media, but I believe all
media have a sense of justice. So I feel, after this happened to my son Ai
Weiwei, to be honest, a lot of media have spoken up. I really feel that I am not
alone. To have so many media speaking out for justice is very comforting to me.
At that time, I couldn’t see the government, and nobody paid attention
to me even though I lost my son and couldn’t find him. So when all thesemedia
gave me information, I saw the different forms by which the media have sought
justice for my son. I have heard their voices. Also, there were so many people
who protested this suppression of my son, calling for his release. So I don’t
feel alone in this.
Between his arrest and before his release, no
police, procuratorate or judicial officers, or anyone who arrested him, or any
government office told me where my son was;
why he was detained; why he’s not released and the reason for his detention. I
was not clear at all. I just heard all sorts of information, especially by the
state-runmedia which said one thing today, and another tomorrow. I couldn’t tell
what was true and false.
But in my heart I know. I know what my son has
done is correct. He speaks for the people and is defending their rights. He’s
not trying to get justice for our family, but for the people. So this led to his
incarceration. So now, he was released on June 22. This was a day we were
waiting for. We didn’t know it would come so quick, although I was still
mentally prepared. I did expect to wait indefinitely, but I had this confidence
that they would release him, and when that happens he’ll have the chance to
So when he was suddenly released, I felt it was like a
dream, I didn’t know if it was true or not, because there were always rumors.
But I felt since a lot ofmedia—before the state-run Xinhua released
its report, other media knew—so they called
me, they must’ve had some insider information. So I felt it might be true, but
still, it wasn’t official and couldn’t be trusted. Only when I saw my son did I
believe this—that this is real and he is coming out. I was very happy. I believe
all thesemedia who have upheld justice, his friends and his fans and online
friends are all very happy, and would have many stories to tell. They’re more
excited than I am.
Reporter: What’s his health like? How is his
Gao Ying: It’s like this, when he was
released he had to agree to certain restrictions. He can’t leave the country or
leave Beijing. He can’t contact themedia. There were conditions imposed before
his release. So a lot of media wanted to approach him and interview him but this
is not possible. So what about his mood? Well, think about it, he hasn’t seen
his family for 81 days, he doesn’t know the changes that have happened in the
world, or what’s happened because of his arrest. He has no idea. He didn’t even
know that his driver Zhang Jinsong was arrested.
Reporter: He had no idea?
Ying: No, no idea. He was just in a
room. The room was guarded by public security officers. Inside, actually
he was treated well, he was fed well and doctors monitored his health every day
and he took his medicine. He just didn’t have freedom.
Reporter: What about these charges they’ve laid
Gao Ying: We’ll see about those. I
can’t say anything else right? We haven’t seen anything so far about what it’s
all about, and we’re
Reporter: Did he know
about this, when he was inside?
Gao Ying: He didn’t
really understand. He asked what was this all about? What’s all this that
authorities have reported about him? Let’s let time tell, okay? As a mother, I
can’t comment without knowing the facts. Is that okay?
Reporter: You also told the media that this is just the
Gao Ying: If you’re asking me to speak,
I just hope that the media will still pay attention to my son. Also I feel, as a
mother, so many media have approached me during this 81-day period. I really did
not expect it, so many media, all over the world, wanting to do phone
I believe the media is really concerned for my son. So I’d
like to use this opportunity in our interview here that, I want to tell everyone
I am very grateful, very grateful. Because the media has not only allowed the
public to find out about this, they’ve also allowed me to understand what kind
of a person my son is. As a mother, I didn’t really used to know him much, but
through these 81 days, and through my contacts with so manymedia, I believe all
of this is basically truthful. So I am very, very grateful to the media.
Reporter: Ai Weiwei has had a big effect on defending
the rights of the public inside the country.
Ying: Yes. This is what I think. I feel Ai Weiwei is paying attention
to society, to the people. He is criticizing the negative trends in society, and
offering his opinion in defending the people’s rights. This should not be a
crime. This behavior should be allowed to stand, and should be promoted. So, I
feel that as long as it’s correct, I hope themedia will support it.
If it’s not correct, the media is able to express
criticism, right? As human beings, we need to develop towards what’s positive
and civilized. This isn’t the question of a problem that’s specific to a
country. The whole world should be this way, because it’s our home. I hope in
this one world, we can have the same dream. That would be the best.
hope there’s no more trouble. If there’s more trouble, this elderly mother is
near death. Truly, these 81 days has been immense torture for me. I have not
cried so many tears in my life. Truly, it’s been a very painful 81 days, it’s
really been this way. My health has also suffered.
I need to bravely
accept reality. Please be assured, I am still very strong.Interview first published by NTD Television.