PEN president Peter Godwin and World Voices chair Salman Rushdie have written a letter to the Chinese government, protesting its recent travel restrictions for artist Ai Weiwei.
This confinement means that Weiwei will most likely be unable to attend a PEN American Center event scheduled for October 11th in New York City. Here’s an excerpt from Godwin and Rushdie’s letter:
Like our colleagues throughout the world’s art and literary communities, we were shocked when Ai Weiwei was detained in 2011, and we are deeply disappointed to learn that he remains unable to travel freely and participate in international fora and conversations in which he has so clearly earned a place. We believe restricting his right to travel abroad risks violating Chinese and international laws, and that it does little to advance the goals and aspirations of the Chinese government and its people. We therefore entreat you to return Ai Weiwei’s passport immediately and lift all restrictions against him, allowing him to travel to represent his own work and his ideas.
Weiwei has made himself a publicly-recognizable activist in China; he has been a vocal critic of his country’s government policies. He has endured detention and probation for his work. Earlier this year, filmmaker Alison Klayman released a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry profiling him and his activism.