The Chinese government is repeatedly breaking their commitments it made to the international community on freedom of the press and human rights. As the New York Times reported, “the police have detained people who sought permission to protest”, sentenced two women in their late 70s “to an extrajudicial term of ‘re-education through labor’ this week for applying to hold a legal protest in a designated area in Beijing”, and “arrested five Americans on Tuesday after they spelled out ‘Free Tibet’ with blue L.E.D. lights near the National Stadium.”
Instead of living up to their commitments it made to be allowed to host the Olympic Games, the Chinese government is using the Olympics as a justification to crackdown on peaceful human rights activists, censor foreign and domestic journalists, and displace Chinese individuals and families who have no legal recourse to protest the seizure of their homes or their land.
From media reports, we are now learning that the Chinese government-designated 'protest zones' are a ruse for China to suppress dissent and imprison individuals who speak out against China's policies.
For instance, Wang Xiuying and Wu Dianyuan, two women in their late 70s, have been sentenced to 're-education through labor,' for applying to hold a legal protest over the seizure of their homes for redevelopment. 'Re-education through labor' is a brutal and arbitrary system of imprisonment where the recipient has no right to due process, counsel, or even a hearing.
Another individual, Ji Sizun, a self-described grassroots legal activist from Fujian Province, also applied for a permit for a legal protest. He was arrested on August 11 for asking for a permit.
Despite numerous requests, Chinese authorities have failed to grant any permits for legal protests in their designated protest zones.
Sadly, imprisoning individuals who dare to exercise their human rights is common practice in China. The international community must shine the spotlight on the ordinary indignities and lack of legal and human rights protections that Chinese citizens face every day.
World leaders attending the Olympic Games should use this opportunity to press China's leaders to live up to the commitments made before being awarded the Olympic Games. I call on the Chinese government to respect the freedom of its own citizens both during the remaining few days of the Olympic Games and after they have concluded.