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viernes, agosto 22, 2008

Olympic Protesters Punished Without Trials

Evidently, it's not a really good idea to assert free speech rights in China or to protest the policies of the Chinese government. If you're Chinese, as I previously wrote, you can be sent to "re-education through labor" if you apply five times to get a permit to protest legally. And what if you're a US Citizen and you protest? You are summarily punished without trial. Or deported. After all, protests about freedom for Tibet, or anything else that might offend you about the Chinese Government's policies, might tarnish the luster of the perfect, mechanistic Olympics.

The New York Times reports:
Six Americans who were taken into custody on Tuesday as they tried to protest against China’s rule in Tibet have been given 10-day detentions, the Chinese police said Friday.

But members of their organization, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet, said that they had no information about four other protesters — two Americans, a German and a British citizen — who were detained early Thursday during a protest near the National Stadium. Extrajudicial detentions are a common form of punishment for Chinese dissidents, but are rarely handed out to foreigners, who are often deported almost immediately after being taken into custody. Members of Students for a Free Tibet have staged eight protests involving 55 people since the Olympics began on Aug. 8, and human rights advocates said the government might be seeking to deter those contemplating similar activities in the Games’ final days.


Reached by telephone, Public Security Bureau officials declined to comment, but faxed a two-sentence statement explaining that the six Americans had been “apprehended for upsetting public order.” The statement, which did not include the detainees’ names, said the men were being held at the Dongcheng police station.

You read that right. Extrajudicial detentions means punishment without trial. And the offense is "upsetting public order."

What exactly did these protesters do that so grievously "upset public order"?
Most of the organization’s demonstrations have involved unfurling “Free Tibet” banners or displaying Tibetan flags, which are illegal in China. In the latest action, four protesters raised their fists and shouted slogans while waving a Tibetan flag near the National Stadium. As at the other protests, the participants were quickly bundled off by plainclothes police officers.
So. The protesters are summarily detained and punished without trial. But it gets more interesting:
Two photographers for The Associated Press were also roughed and taken into custody, according to news agency reports and press freedom advocates. The police questioned them for 30 to 40 minutes and took the memory cards from their cameras.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China has received dozens of complaints from foreign journalists who have been detained, trailed or had equipment damaged by the police.
How dare anyone so grievously upset public order during the Olympics! How dare newspeople and photographers actually do their jobs and record the protests! Didn't Chairman Mao write, "Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend?" Well maybe. But he must not have meant during the Olympics.

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