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18,000 Virtual Protesters go live in Beijing

August 19, 2008

By Caden Pearson
Epoch Times
August 17, 2008

The three official Beijing protest zones may be empty, but internet
savvy activists are finding a way around security by joining a virtual protest.

As of Sunday August 17, over 18,100 people have demonstrated online
against lack of freedom of expression in China.

Advocator of free press, Reporters Without Borders (RFS), instigated
an online virtual demonstration outside Beijing's Olympic Stadium
ahead of the Games' opening ceremony to protest the Chinese Communist
Party's (CCP) suppression of freedom of speech and call for the
release of political prisoners.

Each virtual demonstrator can pick from among five placards with
slogans reading, "I boycott the Olympics opening ceremony!" "Yes to
sport, no to repression," "No Olympic Games without freedom,"
"Olympic ideals betrayed, IOC accomplice," and "Free Olympic prisoners!"

After joining the unusual picket line in front of the Birds Nest, you
get a placard assigned with a slogan and also see who else is
demonstrating. Many Chinese have joined the protest, as they find a
new way of online expression.

RFS and the virtual protesters are calling for the release of all
Olympic prisoners. One such person is human rights attorney Gao
Zhisheng. He is renowned for standing up for the likes of the poor,
AIDS victims of bad blood, petitioners and Falun Gong. He was taken
by Public Security Bureau police in November last year.

A source close to Gao's family revealed in early August that the
attorney spent two months suffering severe torture, including being
beaten and having Chinese guards urinating on him. Mr Gao has been
removed from Beijing for the duration of the Olympics.

Another dissident is Hu Jia, again a Chinese human rights attorney,
was last year imprisoned for 3.5 years, for "subversion" of the
States power -- the blanket charge used to jail dissidents. The day
after the Olympics opening ceremony his wife, Zeng Jinyan, went
missing and friends suspect that she has been detained by police.

The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for
"Faster, Higher, Stronger." The Olympic charter also promotes peace
and harmony, which remain illusive in China.

Besides spearheading the virtual protest, RFS has made a number of
public appearances in Beijing since the Games started, one involving
a banner being unfurled on the state television building.
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