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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Cat-and-mouse game with security in deserted Olympic protest park

August 11, 2008

Straits Times (Singapore)
August 9, 2008

BEIJING - HAI Mingyu played a game of cat-and-mouse with police on
Saturday as he tried to protest in a Beijing park that China had
claimed would be open for rare acts of defiance during the Olympics.

Mr Hai had come to Ritan Park because it was one of three protest
zones set up by Chinese authorities in a bid to display openness for
the Games, and he wanted to speak to foreign press about his plight.

He and his family were the only ones in the 'protest park'.

Accompanied by his wife, father and daughter, he tried to unfurl a
banner that claimed authorities in his hometown in eastern China's
Shandong province had taken his mother's house and sold it without
giving any compensation.

'But the park's management wouldn't let me and tried to make me go
away,' he said, as what appeared to be plainclothes police looked on
and listened.

'The country allowed people to come here to the park to speak to
foreign media during the Olympics, but the real situation is that
they don't let anyone come.'

China's communist rulers, who routinely ban demonstrations of any
kind, announced last month that they had set up the three protest
parks for people who had applied for permission to protest freely in.

Mr Hai, a 34-year-old entrepreneur, said he had not applied, but
maintained the regulations stipulated that a group of five people or
less who wanted to protest did not have to ask for permission.

As he walked around the deserted park in central Beijing under
suffocating heat, trying to escape from the police in plain clothes
following him, Mr Hai said many people in his native Huimin had
suffered from forced land evictions.

Farmers he knew, he said, had had their land taken to make way for a
factory which had never even been built, echoing a familiar refrain
by marginalised people in Chinese society over property rights injustices.

Mr Hai said he was able to come here because he now lived in China's
capital, but others registered in different areas or provinces, he
said, would not be able to even enter Beijing.

'We have a car, so we can come and go, but locals don't have a car,
they have to take the bus and police can stop them from going and
take them away. So they can't come here,' he said.

He had come to the park on Monday before the Olympics kicked off, and
said he had seen more than 20 young people try to come and protest.

'But the park's management told them they couldn't.' The municipal
police bureau of Beijing, and Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing
Olympic organising committee, refused to comment on the issue.

As Mr Hai finally managed to unfurl his banner, allowing an AFP
reporter to take a quick picture of his daughter holding it, he
expressed concern about what might happen to him after journalists left.

'I'm scared of having problems after this, but there is no other way.

'I hope that you can write a story to raise awareness, so that the
ordinary people of Huimin can live a life with human rights.' -- AFP
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