The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us | Ai Weiwei

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The west has profited from globalisation but refuses to bear its responsibilities to displaced people. We have abandoned our belief in shared humanity

  • Ai Weiwei is an artist and activist

I was born in 1957, the same year China purged more than 300,000 intellectuals, including writers, teachers, journalists and whoever dared to criticise the newly established communist government. As part of a series of campaigns led by what was known as the anti-rightist movement, these intellectuals were sent to labour camps for “re-education”.

Because my father, Ai Qing, was the most renowned poet in China then, the government made a symbolic example of him. In 1958, my family was forced from our home in Beijing and banished to the most remote area of the country – we had no idea that this was the beginning of a very dark, long journey that would last for two decades.

Our prioritisation of financial gain over people’s struggle for the necessities of life is the cause of this crisis

The Rohingya are Muslims who live in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. They are often described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”. 

Related: End all immigration controls – they’re a sign we value money more than people | Gary Younge

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