Beijing Artists March Against Demoliton of Art District

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On Monday afternoon, these artists marched through central Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue. They were protesting the demolition of an art district to make way for redevelopment.

Holding up banners that read “Civil Rights!” and “Capital Beijing, brutal demolition!”, the artists—including prominent activist Ai Weiwei—tried to make their way to Beijing’s landmark Tiananmen Square.

[Ai Weiwei, Artist and Activist]
“Out of about ten people in the rally, six held up three banners and one person used the camera while another posted the news on Twitter simultaneously. After a short time, everybody in the world became aware of the protest.”

Earlier that day, a number of the artists were assaulted when they tried to stop dozens of armed men from destroying their studios, according to state-run Global Times.

Ai Weiwei is a well-known building designer who’s also been an outspoken critic of the Chinese regime. He says the artists decided to take to the streets because their voices of dissent were being silenced on the Internet.

[Ai Weiwei, Artist and Activist]
“Now you can see that Internet in China is being tightly controlled by the government. Chinese government is making various excuses and using various measures to purge and block opposing voices, instead of resorting to proper means. Three of my personal blogs were also shut down. When people cannot raise their voices because of the tight control, they come up with other options to express themselves.”

Ai says the protestors were stopped and beaten by police officers before they could reach Tiananmen Square.

This was the first time a protest has taken place on Chang’an Avenue in over twenty years. The last protest here—the 1989 student democracy movement—was brutally crushed when tanks rolled in, ending weeks of demonstration.

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