Specter of Arrest Deters Demonstrators in China

From New York Times:

Like scores of other aggrieved citizens in China’s capital, Zhang Wei was stunned last month to learn that the Chinese government would allow demonstrators to air their complaints during the Olympics at specially designated protest zones around the city. All they had to do was fill out a form at their local police station.

In an authoritarian country that bans almost all forms of public protest, the newfound openness seemed too good to be true. And it was.

Ms. Zhang, a Beijing resident who has been seeking redress for what she claims was the illegal demolition of her house, applied for a protest permit in early August and began planning her public demonstration. On Aug. 6, police officers came to her home — not to deliver the requisite license but to take her into custody. She is now serving a monthlong sentence for “disturbing social order,” according to her family.

“The government is afraid of possible bad influences on people who are here for the Olympics,” her son, Mi Yu, said in a telephone interview. He said the police had refused to let him see his mother, who is being held at a detention center in south Beijing.

Read also Protests still unwelcome in Beijing from BBC News.

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