I feel ashamed to go to Tibet: renowned Chinese artist

August 17, 2012 5:38 pm

DHARAMSHALA: A renowned Chinese artist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government’s policies said he feels ashamed of going to Tibet, saying Tibetans are burning themselves to death and nobody is talking about it.

“The Tibetan people are burning themselves to death. Already over 40 of them in the past two years, and nobody’s talking about it,” Ai Weiwei said in an interview with Foreign Policy’s Jonathan Landreth. On being asked whether he has been to Lhasa before, Ai said: “No. I would feel ashamed to go. I think to respect [the Tibetans] is not to touch them, to leave them alone.”

Since 2009, 49 Tibetans have so far set themselves on fire in Tibet demanding His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and crying for freedom for Tibetans. 39 self-immolators died, while the well-being and whereabouts of others remain unknown.

Ai Weiwei also talked about the need for democracy in China.

“It’s not just Beijing. It’s a problem of the system, which could be more efficient, more loving, friendlier to people. Even if you’re not elected. But that’s very naive. That’s why you need democracy. Either you’re elected or you have to leave, because otherwise you’re a monster,” he said in response to a question on Chinese authorities’ crackdown on his studios in Beijing and Shanghai.