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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?"

Report: 77 applications for Olympic protests

August 19, 2008

The Associated Press
August 18, 2008

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese authorities have received 77 applications
from people who want to hold protests in designated demonstration
areas during the Beijing Olympics, state media said Monday, the first
details of the response to the plan since the games began.

There have been no protests in the three parks set aside as special
zones for a type of dissent that is usually banned in China but which
Beijing said it would allow as long as tight regulations are followed.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the 77 applications submitted
since Aug. 1 involved 149 people, including three people from overseas.

The two-line Xinhua report did not say whether any had been approved
or give any other details. A woman who answered the telephone at the
spokesman's office of the Public Security Bureau would not comment on
the report.

Human rights groups and families of some people who have applied for
permits to protest in the parks say they were taken away afterward by
security agents, prompting critics to accuse officials of using the
plan as a trap to draw potential protesters to their attention.

In July, China said protests would be allowed during the Olympics in
three parks far away from the main venues. Applications must be filed
five days in advance and a response would be provided 48 hours before
the requested protest time, officials said.

Liu Shaowu, the Beijing Olympics' security chief, also warned that
protests must not harm "national, social and collective interests."

There have been no apparent demonstrations in the areas since the
Aug. 8 start of the games, though small unregulated protests have
occurred in other places in the city. Most have been conducted by
foreigners who unfurled "Free Tibet" banners and were quickly deported.

Protests have become common in China -- from workers upset about
factory layoffs to farmers angry about land confiscation — but the
Communist leadership remains wary of large demonstrations, fearing
they could snowball into anti-government movements.

The sensitivity is even more marked during the Olympics, which China
hopes will showcase the country as a modern world power.
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