Ai Weiwei Describes Mental Torment in Captivity

August 3, 2011 6:34 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:02 pm
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (R) arrives to speak to reporters outside his studio in Beijing on June 23, 2011.  (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (R) arrives to speak to reporters outside his studio in Beijing on June 23, 2011. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, who has been under gag orders since his release from arbitrary detention last month, has for the first time revealed some of the unpleasant details of his detention.

A chance encounter with Hong Kong journalist Ju Baiyu in a bank in Beijing led to his comments being published in Apple Daily on Aug. 2.

During the 81 days Ai was in detention he was interrogated 52 times, the report said.

He didn’t mention specifics regarding interrogation methods, or whether he was physically tortured or threatened with torture, instead focusing on the psychological torment of captivity.

“I lost all connection with the outside world and was immersed in a world of darkness. I was scared that my existence would fade silently; no one knew where I was, and no one would ever know. I was just like a small soybean, once fallen to the ground, it rolls into a crack in the corner. Being unable to make any sounds, it will forever be forgotten,” he said with characteristic élan.

Ai had not spoken to the press since his release on June 22.

He said that every day he was woken at 6:30 a.m., and every day interrogated by two security officers. They deployed a “conversational method” of interrogation, the article said.

Ai did say he felt “reassured and glad” over the media and public’s response to the Wenzhou high-speed train crash. Netizens have for the last week excoriated communist authorities for attempting to lie about and cover-up the incident, and for the corruption and general lack of transparency that many assume led to the disaster.

In recent years, Ai has been an outspoken participant in grass-roots investigations, including the melamine-tainted milk scandal, and the student death count following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. At the time of the earthquake hundreds of school buildings collapsed while Communist Party buildings remained standing, leading many parents to suspect that corruption in the regime led to the deaths of their children. But those attempting to investigate the incident were harassed and forcibly disbanded.

Ai was arrested at the Beijing Airport on April 3 and released on bail on June 22 after being detained for 81 days. On June 27, Beijing’s Municipal Administration of Taxation ordered Ai to pay more than 12 million yuan in owed taxes and penalties.

Though during the chance encounter at the bank Ju Baiyu and Ai Weiwei arranged to later meet at his house, when the former tried to visit, domestic security officers turned her away.

[email protected]