A French has been taken under custody in China shortly after they paid tribute to the late activist Liu Xiaobo. Hu Jaman and Marine Brossard were both attending the Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism Architecture on 15 December where they exhibited a mural showing an empty blue chair at an art exhibition in Shenzhen.
Soon as the mural was put up for exhibition, the BBC reported that Chinese policemen in plain clothes covered up the mural and took the couple away. Journalists and friends of the couple who were wary of the situation said that they could not reach Jaman and Brossard after the abrupt arrest.
At the event, Mr Hu told the South China Morning Post: “Nor am I an activist … I painted the chair to express my personal commemoration and grief towards Mr Liu, but it’s not a manifesto to the public.” Mr Hu also said that even if he lived in China, he would not worry too much “because I think a lot of fear comes from people’s imagination.”
Ever since the couple’s arrest, AFP journalists who tried to reach them have been met with rejection. Their phones were also switched off. When the French embassy was contacted about the couple, they declined to comment on the matter. Chinese authorities meanwhile, said that they have no information regarding the French couple.
“Given China’s poor human rights records, they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment if they are detained without access of a lawyer of their own choice,” Amnesty International said on the development.
Liu Xiaobo was China’s most prominent advocate for human rights and democracy. He was sentenced by China to 11 years in prison in the course of which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He died shortly after being released for medical parole in July.