Would-Be Protesters Find the Olympics Failed to Expand Free Speech in Beijing

The New York Times reports on a group of people who traveled to Beijing intending to hold a protest during the Olympics against the unjust loss of property:

Some of the group left their hide-out, an apartment in a northern neighborhood, on Wednesday to carry out a protest outside the main Olympic stadium, called the Bird’s Nest. But there was no protest, and they have not been heard from. Later, another protester, Huang Liuhong, stepped outside with her supporters, only to find some 50 police officers from her hometown. They told her they had been watching her and the others ever since they arrived.

That night, Ms. Huang, 36, speaking by cellphone, said that she and her older sister were being driven back south to their city, Liuzhou, and that a policewoman had just stripped them naked so they would not try to run away.

[…] The case of Ms. Huang and the other disgruntled residents of Liuzhou, who came here to hold demonstrations over four cases of property seizure or destruction, shows that when it comes to freedom of protest, the Olympics changed little in the Chinese capital. The Chinese government still requires citizens to register to protest, and it has yet to grant any permits for people to hold lawful protests in three designated parks in Beijing.

Before the Olympics, the central government ordered local governments to keep protesters or troublemakers from coming to Beijing, and the vigilance of the police officers from Liuzhou shows that that order still stands.

September 12, 2008 3:38 PM
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