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During Ai Weiwei’s childhood, his father, the famous poet Ai Qing, was accused of “rightism” during Chairman Mao’s anti-intellectual campaign. From 1958 to 1975, his family was then exiled to Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China. Today, the 10 million Turkic-speaking Muslim Uyghurs— who make up about half of the region’s population—face mass arbitrary detention and mistreatment by the Chinese government, which has increased significantly in the past couple of years. This panel, moderated by David Mulroney, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and featuring Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, and Mehmet Tohti, a prominent Uyghur rights activist and campaigner, will delve into Human Rights Watch’s ongoing research in the area, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life that now face Turkic Muslims.
David Mulroney is a former public servant and university administrator. From 2015 – 2018, he served as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College, the Catholic federated university within the University of Toronto. He came to St. Michael’s after more than 30 years in Canada’s Public Service. A career Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Mulroney was Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012. Prior to his appointment to Beijing, Mr. Mulroney was assigned to the Privy Council Office in Ottawa as the Deputy Minister responsible for the Afghanistan Task Force, overseeing coordination of all aspects of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. Mr. Mulroney’s other assignments included serving as Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and, concurrently, as the Prime Minister’s Personal Representative to the G8 Summit. Mr. Mulroney currently represents the Archdiocese of Toronto on the board that oversees the operations of Toronto’s three Catholic hospitals. Mr. Mulroney is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and an Honorary Fellow of the University of St. Michael’s College. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the University of Toronto’s Arbor Award and in June 2015 received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Western University. His book Middle Power, Middle Kingdom was awarded the J.W. Dafoe Prize for 2016.
Sophie Richardson is the China director at Human Rights Watch. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the Hopkins-Nanjing Program, and Oberlin College, Dr. Richardson is the author of numerous articles on domestic Chinese political reform, democratization, and human rights in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Vietnam. She has testified before the European Parliament and the US Senate and House of Representatives. She has provided commentary to the BBC, CNN, the Far Eastern Economic Review, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Dr. Richardson is the author of China, Cambodia, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Columbia University Press, Dec. 2009), an in-depth examination of China’s foreign policy since 1954’s Geneva Conference, including rare interviews with policy makers.
Mehmet Tohti is a prominent Uyghur rights activist and campaigner, and was a university professor at Kashgar Normal University before being exiled in 1991. He was one of the university student leaders of first ever freedom march organized by Uyghur students in Urumchi in 1985. Tohti has played an active role in the formation of various Uyghur organizations worldwide and works tirelessly promoting the democratic rights of Uyghurs in East Türkistan under Chinese occupation. He is the founder of the Uyghur Canadian Society and one of the core members in the establishment of the World Uyghur Congress in 2004. He was elected as Vice President of the World Uyghur Congress for two terms and served until 2009. Tohti was appointed as a special representative of the World Uyghur Congress to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium from 2010 – 2012 and has played a crucial role in introducing a European Parliament Resolution condemning the demolition of the 2000-year-old city of Kashgar by the Chinese government.
About the exhibition
Ai Weiwei is one of the world’s most influential artists and human rights activists, as well as one of China’s most formidable critics. Known for smashing conventions—and ceramics—with iconic works like Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, he upends the cultural traditions and materials of his native China.
This highly-anticipated and timely exhibition explores the breaking of boundaries, both physical and symbolic, and considers how the artist’s ceramic works form a basis for his ongoing exploration of urgent social justice themes, including immigration, freedom of speech, and the repression of dissent. Learn more
PHIL LIND & ELLEN ROLAND
THE ROONEY FAMILY FOUNDATION
ELEANOR & FRANCIS SHEN
© State WeChat account | Caption: Village officials swear allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party in Kashgar, Xinjiang.
111 Queen's Park
Canada, M5S 2C7