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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Activists Warned on Olympic Protests

June 29, 2008

By HOWARD W. FRENCH
The New York Times
June 26, 2008

SHANGHAI -- In the latest sign of efforts to prevent dissent during
the Beijing Olympics, political activists in Shanghai say they have
been warned against expressing their opinions, speaking with
foreigners or visiting Beijing until after the Games.

The activists, who have petitioned the city government over
grievances in the past, say they were summoned by the police, or
detained and issued warnings against making political statements
before or during the Games.

The warning against dissent in Shanghai appears to be part of a
broader national effort to avert protest by Chinese, particularly
those known as petitioners, meaning those who seek the redress of
grievances that run the gamut from land use and environmental
problems to corruption and political matters. One Shanghai petitioner
said that he and others were detained on June 18 after a memorial
service for an activist who died shortly after being released from
prison last year.

"We were taken to a place and kept there for half a day," said the
petitioner, Xu Zhengqing. "Finally a policeman from our neighborhood
came along and read a notice that said, 'Don't go to Beijing during
the time of the Olympics.' I asked to keep the notice, but they refused."

In recent weeks, the government has also blocked Web sites on topics
like discrimination complaints by Chinese carriers of hepatitis and
anti-Japanese protests involving claims of Chinese ownership of the
Diaoyu Islands, which are also claimed by Tokyo.

Beijing is making its final preparations for the Olympics, which open
on Aug. 8. In another security measure, anti-aircraft missile
batteries were recently installed around the capital's new National
Stadium, which is known as the Bird's Nest.

China has also tightened access to visas for foreigners and has
stepped up surveillance of its borders as part of a heightened terrorism alert.

Officials of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau declined to confirm
or deny reports of the warnings to activists.

Cui Fufang, an activist who was detained, said that she was told by
the police that if she ignored the warning and traveled to Beijing
she would be detained for 5 days for a first infraction, and 10 days
if she went to the capital a second time. "I challenged them, asking
if I was a citizen or not," Ms. Cui said. "When they answered 'yes,'
I asked, 'Why can't a citizen go of her own free will to our nation's
capital?' They said it was because I was a petitioner, and
petitioners make trouble."

Chang Xiongfa, another Shanghai-based activist, said he had been
warned by the police that if he and his associates did not cooperate,
"we would be dealt with."

"They said they were carrying out a political assignment and needed
our cooperation," Mr. Chang said. "I told them, 'Wasn't it our own
government that said the Olympics have nothing to do with politics?'"

In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, which was recently
struck by a major earthquake, a local education bureau warned schools
to be on the lookout for troublemakers.

"Schools must set up an effective plan to ensure stability," read the
bureau's notice, which called for 24-hour surveillance to "absolutely
prevent petitioners from going to Beijing."

In Lishui City, in Zhejiang Province, local officials and the police
were ordered not to take vacations from July to September. "Their aim
must be zero petitions to the provincial and national government," a
notice online read.

In many localities the authorities have repeated the motto "early
report, early control, early solve," urging people to prevent
protests of any kind.

"Local governments are doing everything they can in order to stop
petitioners," said Li Jianqiang, a human rights lawyer in Qingdao.
"Every unit, factory and school has been ordered to keep an eye on
people who might try to make their way to Beijing."

Details on Vehicle Ban in Beijing

BEIJING -- Government officials have given further details of the
kinds of high-emission vehicles that will be banned from the streets
of Beijing in an effort to curb pollution during the Summer Olympics,
according to state news media.

The ban will take place from July 1 to Sept. 20 and will apply to
vehicles that do not meet the lowest of the European emissions
standards. Those vehicles, mostly freight trucks, have yellow labels
on their windshields, and there are more than 300,000 of them. With
six weeks to go before the Games, the air in Beijing is still a
dense, soupy haze. Last Friday, officials announced their initial
plans to limit vehicle usage around the Olympics.
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