The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, Ma Mingqiang, found the ‘Last Words’ exhibit at the Dhaka Art Summit “offensive” and called for its removal as it featured copies of handwritten letters written by five Tibetans before they self-immolated in protest against the Chinese government, reported ArtNet News on 9 February 2016.
Organisers of the summit felt “intimidated” and “frightened” by Mingqiang’s request and contacted the exhibit’s creators, filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, who were “outraged” by the ambassador’s actions, according to The Washington Post on 12 February 2016.
The organisers gave the filmmakers the choice to either have their exhibit taken down or covered up and they decided the works should remain, but covered with white sheets.
“We felt that this would make a stronger statement on the nature of censorship and coercion that was taking place, particularly as ‘Last Words’ comments on exactly the same issues,” the filmmakers told the newspaper.
The Dhaka Art Summit was held on 5-8 February 2016. Mingqiang visited the summit on the second day.
Photo from Wasfia Nazreen’s Facebook page
» Free Tibet – 12 February 2016:
Self-immolation art exhibit censored after Chinese pressure
» The Washington Post – 12 February 2016:
That time China censored an art summit – in another country
» Artnet News – 9 February 2016:
Chinese ambassador pressures Dhaka Art Summit to censor artwork on Tibetan self-immolation
» Artsfreedom.org – 30 October 2015:
Tibet/China: Musician released from prison
» Artsfreedom.org – 7 April 2015:
Tibet/China: Monk and artist reportedly arrested
» Artsfreedom.org – 9 July 2014:
Tibet/China: Artists have to tread an incredibly fine line