Conflict & Justice

Olympics protest zones

There is a precedent for protest zones in China during big international events: during the UN Women's Conference 13 years ago protesters could go to a big patch of grass miles outside of Beijing far away from the conference. Today this government official announced the creation of similar protest zones, and said three parks were designated each of which are well away from Olympic events. Beyond that protesters have to sign up in advance to be there and can't just show up and even the Chinese who are willing to go through all that face the possibility of being questioned or even detained afterwards. This activist says the right to protest is guaranteed under the Chinese constitution, but most of the time Chinese don't even get the freedom of speech. He says protests are now allowed if they'll appear to harm national unity or social harmony, which means in practice most protests are not allowed. Tens of thousands of protests happen anyway and the government responds by arresting the participants and placating the masses. One protester's four year term was supposed to end this Saturday�he was arrested for trying to organize a 10,000 person march�but his family found out that police had moved him and wouldn't say where he is now. it's a common practice for Chinese authorities to crack down on known dissidents before a big event, but what about foreign visitors who try to protest? This expert says foreigners can actually be convicted of inciting of subversion, even though it's never actually happened. Chinese authorities have signaled that when it comes to foreign protesters, prevention is best. Some have complained all the extra security checks have taken the fun out of the Olympics, but this government official says that isn't the intention.

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