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ai_weiwei_2012Dharamshala: - The leading Chinese artist and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government's policies in Tibet and Chinda said he feels ashamed of going to Lhasa, the capital of 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, over 50 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. over 40 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.

"The Internet is the greatest invention of the 20th century," he says. "It allows ordinary people a chance to change public opinion," Ai posted on his social-media.

"The Chinese government has gotten tough on Ai because social media, first a blog and then a Twitter stream (@aiww), has made his presence and his thoughts ubiquitous in China and beyond."

Ai Ai Weiwei, from the book Ai Weiwei Speaks, by Hans Ulrich Obrist, which identifies him as ‘artist, architect, curator, publisher, poet and urbanist.'

During Weiwei's 81 days in custody, authorities in China have also acted heavily against free speech and human rights in Tibet. These included an enormous crackdown at Kirti monastery, in Ngaba, which sparked an international outcry to respect human rights in the region.

"I wasn't surprised to see him facing similar problems and challenges, because a totalitarian government that controls every aspect of the life of its citizens," said Nyima T.J, a Tibetan political analyst based in exile.

After the tragic incident happened in Tibet, China has repeatedly claimed that the situation in Tibet is ‘normal' and that relations between Tibetans and police are "harmonious". But the situation has become even more tense since the beginning of recent months," he added.

"The Tibetan self-immolations are not intended to inflict physical harm to others or material damage. however the authoritarian regime still describe it as an "extreme act of violence and terrorism." he further added.

"If we look at it with a wider perspective, Tibetan people have much more fears of barbarian acts of the regime, as arbitrary arrests, torture, detention or imprisonment are seen in daily life in Tibet," he said.

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