Chinese political provocateur Ai Weiwei underwent surgery to repair a cerebral hemorrhage in Germany earlier this week, according to reports in the German press.
According to Ai, the bleeding was a delayed consequence of being beaten by Chinese police on August 12. Since that time he has suffered from headaches and has been unable to concentrate; the pain grew worse during a trip to Germany, where he's scheduled to open a sprawling exhibition of his work at the Haus der Kunst in Munich on Oct. 11. On Monday, two holes were drilled into Ai's head at a Munich hospital to relieve the pressure on his brain.
Ai has been pursued by police in conjunction with his Sichuan Earthquake Names Project, which sought to uncover the names of the thousands of schoolchildren who died in the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, many as a result of poor maintenance of school buildings. Ai had his blog about the project shut down earlier this year, after he wrote about being followed and about his mother's house being visited by unknown persons. On August 12, Ai was in Chengdu, in Sichuan province, to follow the trial of his fellow investigator Tan Zuoren, when 20 uniformed and plainclothes police allegedly came to the hotel where he was staying, hit him on the head, and threatened to kill him.
"I almost died," Ai told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. But "the doctors saved me, and I'm doing well."
In an interview from his hospital bed with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he said: "In what kind of light does it cast our country, which is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, if this is their reaction to a legal investigation?"