Ai Weiwei commemorates killed Palestinian journalist

Chinese artist worked with Yasser Murtaja in Gaza in 2016

April 9, 2018 18:11
2 minute read.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei takes a selfie with Palestinian girls as he works on a documentary film

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei takes a selfie with Palestinian girls as he works on a documentary film on refugees, at the Seaport of Gaza City May 12, 2016. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

World famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has taken to social media to commemorate the life and work of Palestinian photographer Yasser Murtaja.

Murtaja was shot dead by an IDF sniper amid clashes along the Gaza border early Saturday. The IDF has said it “does not intentionally target journalists” and is “looking into” the circumstances.

Ai met Murtaja in 2016, when the photographer worked on the artist’s documentary, Human Flow. Over the weekend, Ai posted a photo of Murtaja to his Instagram feed featuring the journalist after he had been shot, lying on the ground still wearing a “PRESS” jacket.

“Yasser Murtaja, a 31-year-old Gaza photojournalist, was reporting on the mass protests at the Israeli-Gazan border,” Ai wrote on Instagram. “He was shot by the Israeli military during the demonstrations and died in hospital on Friday, April 6th, 2018. He worked as a cameraman for Human Flow in Gaza in 2016.”

On Twitter, Ai hasn’t shared many words either, mostly posting links to articles about Murtaja, once adding the words “So sick.” He also retweeted a post from a follower who wrote: “They... terrorize the Palestinians. #Gaza is an open air concentration camp.”

In May 2016, Ai arrived in Israel to film for the documentary – his first visit to the region. He was initially denied an entry permit to Gaza before it was eventually granted. He filmed there and around Israel for the documentary, and also met at the Israel Museum with then-director James Snyder. The next year, an exhibit of Ai’s work, “Maybe, Maybe Not,” opened at the museum and closed just last month.

Ai returned to Israel for its opening in June 2017, where he told reporters, “My voice should be heard,” according to Agence France-Presse. “I have to make the argument... [and not say] ‘OK, let’s boycott it, and it’s nothing to do with me.’ I think that’s too easy.”

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