22 August 2011

Human rights watch point

As readers of the Monday Paper may know, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei was arrested in April on his arrival at Beijing airport, and was detained by the Chinese authorities for almost three months.

Released in June, Ai Weiwei has been prohibited from speaking publicly or giving interviews, and is placed under virtual house arrest. Although the Chinese government claims that Ai Weiwei was arrested for 'tax evasion', The Guardian disagrees: "He is the most high profile of dozens of activists and dissidents arrested, detained or harassed in recent months in what campaigners called China's most severe crackdown on human rights in over a decade.

Several are still held and many of those who have been freed are understood to have been released under strict conditions." Ai Weiwei's arrest and detention adds another shameful chapter to China's record of human rights violations, and the detention of critics of the Beijing government raises deep concerns about the erosion of free speech in China. UCT is currently establishing official links with China via the Confucius Institute. In protest at Ai Weiwei's arrest and detention, and in support of freedom of expression and human rights, I would like to urge UCT management and the Confucius Institute based at UCT to issue an official condemnation of the arrest and detention of Ai Weiwei, and of the violations of his rights to freedom of expression.

Elisa Galgut
Department of Philosophy

Speak up

I would love to read more articles like Fixing South Africa's schools (MP Vol 30#10) by the vice-chancellor, Dr Max Price, and the director of the Schools Development Unit, Dr Jonathan Clark.

I found the article well written and it gives a good picture of how bad our education system is, what caused it, and what needs to be done. What I don't get is the 'how' part - whether it's possible with the current administration in the education system, and if not, what roles institutions like UCT should play to have their recommendations taken seriously.

Constantine Mudau

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