The issue stems from the case of Weiwei’s friend and colleague, local rights activist Tan Zuoren, who was accused and subsequently jailed for establishing a database of children who had been killed during the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008. Weiwei has long supported Zuoren and tried to testify at the activist’s trial, however he alleges that a vicious beating from police prevented him from doing so. After suffering from intense headaches, Weiwei was admitted to hospital where it was discovered that he was suffering from internal bleeding. He underwent emergency brain surgery for a cerebral haemorrhage in Munich where surgeons removed 30ml of fluid from the artist’s brain through two drill holes.
In yesterday’s assault, the attackers allegedly fired a torrent of verbal abuse at Weiwei and his associates, including ‘Do you want to die?’ and ‘If you want to reason things out then go to the United States’. The artist resided in America for many years yet retained his Chinese citizenship. Weiwei does not seem to have been bowed by recent events however, telling The Times: “What I am doing is to protect the rights of others and to reduce such incidents. Even if the police don’t admit they have done this they know in their hearts and will have learnt a lesson.”