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China says headed off Olympic protest permits

September 18, 2008

Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:56am IST
 
BEIJING (Reuters) - The main reason why no protests were held during the Beijing Olympics in specially designated demonstration zones was because all the issues were resolved ahead of time, state media said on Thursday.
 
The city was widely ridiculed by human rights groups for not allowing a single legal protest in the three demonstration zones it had set up to counter criticism Beijing was crushing dissent to prevent disruptions to last month's meticulously planned Games.
 
But for most the cases, there was no need for protest once the "relevant authorities" stepped in to help out, the semi-official China News Service cited Olympic security official Liu Shaowu as saying.
 
"Apart from there being some applications whose content was against the law, most of the applications related to resolving specific issues," Liu was paraphrased as saying.
 
"After consultations between relevant authorities and the applicants, all the specific issues were appropriately resolved, and the applicants themselves abandoned their applications."
 
During the Olympics two old women, who said their homes had been forceably demolished to make way for Games-related construction, were sentenced to re-education through labour for applying to protest, though the sentence was later rescinded.
 
Human Rights Watch also said legal activist Ji Sizun was taken into custody when he went to a police station to check whether there had been progress on his application for a protest permit to denounce corruption and demand more political rights.
 
The most visible protesters at the Games were by groups opposed to China's rule in Tibet, who hung a Tibetan flag on the Olympic Green and unfurled a banner near the new state television headquarters, ignoring the protest parks altogether.
 
Now that the Olympic and Paralympic Games have ended, the protest zones will no longer exist.
 
"Henceforth, the managing authorities will accept (protest) applications in accordance with the law," Liu said.
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