A Chinese policeman stops journalists from taking pictures as they cordon off a park where they kept detained pro-Tibet demonstrators near the the main Olympic stadium in Beijing. Chinese police roughed up a British TV crew and stopped them covering a pro-Tibet protest, witnesses said, in the latest case of interference with media freedom at the Beijing Olympic Games. (AFP/Jewel Samad)
The Beijing Security Office has yet to approve a single protest.
Chinese seniors sentenced over protest applications
Aileen McCabe at the Beijing Games
BEIJING – Two elderly women have been sentenced to “re-education through labour” for daring to apply to demonstrate in the specially designated Olympic protest zones.
Former neighbours Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, tried five times to obtain a permit to protest the forcible eviction from their homes in 2001 before being charged with “disturbing the public order,” according to the advocacy group Human Rights in China.
“Punishing Wu and Wang after they applied for protest permits and actively petitioned the government demonstrates that the official statements touting the new Olympics ‘protest zones,’ as well as the permit application process, were no more than a show,” said Human Rights in China executive director Sharon Hom. “The record speaks for itself: in addition to retaliatory actions, despite numerous applications made, no approvals for demonstrations have been reported.”
The Beijing Security Office said this week that it has received 77 applications to protest in the three public parks set aside for demonstrations in accordance with Olympic practice. Not one has been approved so far, it admitted.
Wu’s son, Li Xuehui, told HRIC that his mother and Wang, who is crippled and has poor eye sight, will be allowed to serve their sentences at home, instead of in a labour camp. Their movements are restricted, however, and if they violate the terms of their sentence, they will be sent to a labour camp, he said.
Wu and Wang are just the latest in a string of would-be Chinese protesters that have been questioned, hassled and even taken away by police when they applied for a permit to demonstrate.
Since the Games opened on Aug. 8, reporters have persistently questioned the International Olympic Committee about the empty protest parks and been repeatedly told they are the responsibility of the host city.
Spokeswoman Giselle Davies repeated that mantra Wednesday, but added: “we would of course welcome that the areas are genuinely used.”