In China, some things never change

Even with the world’s attention upon their country during the Olympics, the Chinese hive leaders can’t successfully pretend to be other than what they are.

In its effort to look good, the government named 3 parks in Beijing as demonstration zones. To demonstrate there, one needed to apply for a permit. Not only have no permits been approved, but some applicants—including two women in their late 70s—have been punished. A grassroots activist who applied for a permit was last seen being taken away in a car by officials.

Here’s part of the report from the Guardian:

Chinese authorities have sentenced two women in their 70s to a year’s “re-education through labour” after they applied to protest during the Olympic games, a relative said today.

This week, officials said they had not approved a single permit for a demonstration, despite designating three parks as protest zones….

Wu Dianyuan, 79, and her neighbour Wang Xiuying, 77, sought to protest about their forced eviction from their homes in 2001. They went to the Beijing Public Security Bureau four times this month to request permission to demonstrate in the new zones — created for the Olympics to counter criticism of the limits to political expression in China.

Their applications were neither granted nor denied, but on their first trip PSB officers interrogated them for 10 hours, Wu’s son, Li Xuehui, told the New York-based group Human Rights in China.

On August 17, the two women received an order dated July 30 from Beijing’s “re-education through labour commission” sentencing them to one year for “disturbing the public order”. It placed restrictions on their movements and warned that if they breached any of the requirements they would be sent to a labour camp. The system does not require formal hearings or allow appeals.

Li told the Associated Press the women were at home under the observation of a neighbourhood committee. He said no cause had been given for the order.

These are two resolute and stouthearted old women; they made three more visits even after being interrogated for ten hours the first time, and apparently went back again after their sentence of a year’s re-education through labor. At that final visit, “officers said they could not apply to protest because of their sentence.”

What a foolish illusion (or vicious pretense), to think (or say) that allowing China to host the Olympics would result in any substantive positive change there. China has put on a big show in Beijing while earthquake victims in Sichuan are still homeless, and multi-national corporations made money. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

ChinaGymnast.jpg ChinaQuakeVictim.jpg

Left, He Kexin, one of China’s allegedly 16-year old gymnasts, performs on the uneven bars. Kexin won the gold medal. The Associated Press/Amy Sancetta. Source.

Below, An elderly woman mourns her grandson buried under the debris of a collapsed building after the Sichuan earthquake. Daily Mail. Source.

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