Artists held by police in raid

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 1994, 12:00am

TWO Beijing-based performance artists were thought to have been arrested yesterday in a police raid after a performance at their home, witnesses said.

The artists, Ma Liumin, 25, and Zhu Min, 22, had not returned home late last night, after they were taken away by dozens of police officers from Beijing Chaoyang Public Security Bureau who stormed into their eastern district home in Beijing yesterday afternoon.

Ma had just finished a performance in front of about 20 other artists and friends when the police arrived. During the performance, Ma, who had been naked, cooked some potatoes and stuffed them with papers and small items like watches before burying them in soil. Zhu had assisted him in the 30-minute show.

Witnesses said the police raided the artists' home at about 1 pm and took away about 10 people present, including some journalists who had filmed the show.

The police also searched and sealed the home.

The witnesses said a German and his Chinese wife were taken separately to a nearby government office and interrogated for more than an hour, He had not been allowed to contact his embassy.

After the interrogation, they were held for a further two hours before being released. Police refused to give a reason for their detention.

Late last night it was not clear whether the journalists and other audience members, believed to have been taken to the Chaoyang Public Security Bureau, had been released.

Witnesses said police had acted rudely during the raid and confiscated all video cameras and films from those present.

Ma and Zhu belong to a small group of avant-grade artists who live in the east village, Beijing's small but fast-rising performance arts community. Yesterday's performance was the second by the artists in the past week.

Friends said their performance was just an expression of their arts and carried almost no political message.