China sets conditions for Olympic protests

August 4th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

By Bill Smith
Beijing, Aug 4 (DPA) China has set tough conditions including a minimum notice of five days for any group wanting to protest at three designated parks during the Beijing Olympics, state media said Monday. Chinese applicants must 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, the official China Daily said.

“It must be stressed that citizens must respect and not harm others’ freedom and rights, and must not harm national, social and collective interests,” the newspaper quoted Liu Shaowu, the security chief for the Beijing organisers (BOCOG) as saying.

Foreign applicants should apply through the exit and entry office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau and must give a Chinese translation of their application documents.

The police will reply to all applicants two days before the date of the planned protests, Liu said.

Applicants who do not receive a reply can go ahead with their events, the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The newspaper reminded would-be protesters that to comply with Chinese law their activities “must not violate the constitution, harm the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, instigate divisions among people or endanger public security”.

Those conditions would normally preclude any protests in support of independence for Tibetans or other ethnic groups, and any events by pro-democracy activists or supporters of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.

Last month, Liu said China would allow protests during the Olympics in three public parks, all far from Olympic sites.

He said the move followed international practice, with protest areas also designated during the previous Olympics in Athens in 2004.

One of the designated protest areas is the relatively small Ritan Park, which is in the city centre and close to one of Beijing’s main embassy areas.

The other two areas are in the outlying districts of Fengtai and Haidian, he said.

The city has mobilised about 500,000 “social volunteers” to help maintain security and join about 100,000 police, 200,000 security guards plus soldiers and special forces units.

Several human rights groups have criticised Beijing’s pre-Olympic security as heavy-handed, especially in its application to dissidents, rights activists and petitioners.

The ruling Communist Party normally forbids all forms of organised protest, but it has apparently sanctioned several small anti-Japanese protests in Beijing and other cities over the past three years.

It also designated a protest area during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

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