Kiwi artist returns to Syria to take up arms

  • 19/07/2015
Kiwi artist returns to Syria to take up arms

An internationally renowned Kiwi artist has taken his life in his hands to go and fight in battle-ravaged Syria.

We've heard a lot about foreign fighters heading to Syria – Western Muslims signing up with the radical forces of the Islamic State.

Famous New Zealand artist Weiming Chen has been there twice now, taking up arms against the Government in this bloody civil war.

He's not been fighting on the side of IS though, but the underdogs – a bunch of pro-Western, pro-democracy rebels caught between the jihadists and the Syrian government.

Chen says he felt compelled to go after he saw the Assad government open fire on the peaceful protests.

Chen is offering one of his latest works to the highest bidder to raise money for Syrian refugees. The civil war is being called the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, with 4 million Syrians – one-sixth of the country's population – fleeing the country.

His sculpture of Sir Edmund Hillary on the waterfront at Orewa launched Chen's international career. He has been commissioned to make sculptures of leaders like Obama, Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama, which grace the corridors of power around the world.

The piece being auctioned on Trade Me is a sculpture of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, who was arrested, tortured and killed by the Syrian Security Forces. Chen says "he is like a flame who burns for a free Syria".

The auction ends on Saturday and can be found on Trade Me here.

3D talked to him as he set out for his third stint on the frontline.

Watch the video for the full report.