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Beijing Olympics: China blocks all protest requests, detained some applicants

Posted by Author on August 20, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing, The Telegraph, UK, 18 Aug 2008-

According to official figures released through state media in China, 149 people in total submitted the 77 applications, including three foreigners.

But despite their hope that they would for the first time be able to make a political point against the Chinese government legally and under the eyes of the world, the three parks which had been set aside for the purpose remain empty.

A police spokesman said that while 77 applications were put forward, of these 74 “were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations” and had been withdrawn.

This usually means that complaints against officials over corruption, land confiscation and other local issues have been referred back to the very authorities that are subject of complaint.

Two had been “suspended” because they did not follow proper procedures – one because the applicants wanted to include children, who are not allowed to participate. The final application was “vetoed” by the public security bureau – Beijing’s police headquarters – because it was “in violation of China’s law on demonstrations and protests”.

It was stipulated in advance that protests could not violate “national, social and collective interests” – likely to rule out many major causes such as autonomy for Tibet, or greater democracy.

The promise of protest zones, intended as a sop to complaints over China’s human rights record, has caused some of the bitterest rows between international media and the Beijing and International Olympic Committees. Inquiries to the Beijing Olympic committee have been repeatedly referred to police without success.

“To date, what had been announced publicly doesn’t appear, in reality, to be happening, and a number of questions are being asked,” said Giselle Davies, chief spokesman of the IOC. “The IOC is keen to see those questions answered by the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch and other groups claim that several of those who have tried to submit applications were subsequently detained by police and have not been seen since.

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for HRW, said the Olympics had set back the development of human rights in China.

“The Games have not helped, they have actually slowed down work that was progressing and increased abuses,” he said.

Meanwhile, an American Christian group staged a brief sit-in in Kunming airport in the south-west of the country after having 315 bibles taken from them by customs officials. Chinese law bans proselytising, but allows one bible per person for personal use.

– Original: Beijing Olympics: Chinese police block all protests , The Telegraph

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