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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?"

China Orders Punishment for Protest Bid

August 22, 2008

By Shai Oster
The Wall Street Journal/Associated Press
August 22, 2008

BEIJING -- Chinese authorities ordered two women to spend a year of
"re-education through labor" after they applied to stage a protest at
an Olympic protest zone over being evicted from their homes, a
human-rights group said.

Wu Dianyuan, 79, and her neighbor, 77-year-old Wang Xiuying, right,
waited on Monday to apply for a protest permit outside a public
security bureau, where a plainclothes security officer watched over them.

The incident highlights the failure of the Olympic Games to secure
greater freedom of expression in China.

The two women, 77-year-old Wu Dianyuan and 79-year-old Wang Xiuying,
had repeatedly applied for permits to hold a protest in one of the
three designated protest zones set up around Beijing.

According to Human Rights in China, Ms. Wu and Ms. Wang, former
neighbors who were evicted from their homes in 2001, applied to
Beijing police five times between Aug. 5 and 18 to hold a protest. In
one case, they were detained and interrogated for 10 hours.

On Aug. 17, they were told they had been sentenced to one year of
re-education through labor for "disturbing the public order,"
according to Human Rights in China. The sentence is to be served
outside a labor camp, with restrictions on their movement, though
they could be sent to a camp if they continue to disobey. A day after
the decision, the two tried again to apply for permission to protest,
but were denied because they had been sentenced.

Under pressure from the International Olympic Committee, Beijing had
agreed to allow demonstrations in special zones far from the main
Olympic venues. Officials said 77 applications have been made, though
none have been approved.

Unapproved protests during the Games, including several from groups
opposing China's policies toward Tibet, have been quickly quashed by
Chinese authorities. Five Americans here to blog about human rights
and to protest China's policies in Tibet were detained by authorities
Tuesday, according to Students for a Free Tibet.

An American artist has been detained by Chinese authorities since 3
a.m. Tuesday Beijing time, an art center in New York with connections
to the artist said. Students for a Free Tibet told the art center
that James Powderly hadn't been heard from since his detention, and
his whereabouts were unknown.

Write to Shai Oster at shai.oster@wsj.com
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