Beijing threatens women protesters with labour camp term

August 20th, 2008 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 20 (DPA) The Beijing government has threatened to send two elderly Beijing women, who applied to hold demonstrations in designated ‘protest zones’, to a labour camp, a human rights group said Wednesday.On Aug 17, Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77, who used to be neighbours and wanted to protest their forcible eviction from homes, were served notices telling them they must serve one year of “re-education-through-labour”, the New York-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) said.

The were accused of “disturbing the public order”.

The notice said they can serve their term outside a labour camp, but that the women will have their movement restricted. The notice also warned that if they violate the government order or other regulations, they will be sent to the labour camp.

The police’s action “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 the rights group’s executive director Sharon Hom.

Beijing police revealed this week that it has received 77 applications for protests from 149 people since Aug 1, but none of the protests were approved, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Police said all but three of the cases were withdrawn because the problems were resolved, but did not give any details. Two applications were considered incomplete and one was illegal, the report said.

“The record speaks for itself: in addition to retaliatory actions, despite numerous applications made, no approvals for demonstrations have been reported,” Hom said.

Wu’s son, Li Xuehui, told HRIC that the two women made five trips to the police unit to apply for permission to protest, but their application was neither granted nor denied each time.

On Aug 5, the two were held and interrogated for 10 hours, HRIC said.

When Wu and Wang returned to the police station the next day after receiving the notice, to again apply for permission to protest, they were told by police that since they had received the re-education-through-labour decision, they now had no right to apply for permission to demonstrate.

Other protest applicants have also reportedly been detained.

Under pressure to hold an Olympics of international standards, China had set up three designated parks where it said people would be able to protest during the Olympics, but it set tough conditions, including a minimum advance notice of five days.

Applicants also had to visit city police in person and provide them with their identity details as well as the purpose, time and route of the protest, copies of posters and slogans to be used, the estimated number of participants and the use of any equipment, according to the guidelines.

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