April 28, 2011 / 7:19 PM / 8 years ago

Chinese rocker reported detained after backing Ai Weiwei

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Chinese rock musician was briefly detained by police after voicing support for prominent artist and rights campaigner Ai Weiwei who is himself under detention, a Hong Kong-based rights group said on Thursday.

Artists hold banners including one featuring a portrait of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei during a protest urging for his release, in Hong Kong April 23, 2011. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Zuoxiao Zuzhou was detained and released by police in Shanghai earlier this week after publicly expressing support for Ai — a longtime friend and artistic collaborator — during a rock concert and in a newspaper editorial.

During a gig at the 2011 Modern Sky Folk& Poetry Festival in Zhouzhuang in eastern China, he displayed the words “Free Ai Weiwei” on a large screen, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement.

Soon afterward, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, whose real name is Wu Hongjin, was detained for over 12 hours by police at Shanghai’s airport with a journalist from the Southern Metropolis Daily, the rights group added.

Writing on his twitter account, Wu wouldn’t comment directly on his detention except to say that he had been freed.

“Everything is ok now,” he wrote, “thanks for your concerns.”

Dozens of rights lawyers and activists have been detained or lost contact with friends and relatives since February, when fears of contagion from Middle East and North Africa uprisings triggered a crackdown by China’s domestic security apparatus.

The burly Ai is among the most prominent of those detained given his stature as an internationally acclaimed avant garde artist and for spearheading a spate of high-profile campaigns against government censorship and political restrictions.

Ai’s plight is expected to be a major focus of the annual U.S-China human rights dialogue, which will aim to ameliorate what Western governments have slammed as the worst clampdown by Beijing in years against its critics.

Wu had written an article “Who doesn’t love Ai Weiwei” in recent days that was published in various media including Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper in which he described Ai as an admirable artist and a rights defender for ordinary people.

“Ai Weiwei’s character and courage can’t be matched today,” wrote the rock musician.

Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Andrew Marshall

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