At a press conference yesterday, the director of the Beijing Olympics organizing committee announced there will be parks designated for demonstrations in response to a reporter’s question. But it is not a free for all. Anyone who wants to protest has to apply for permission. I am curious to know who would dare to apply to protest.

Almost four years ago, housing rights activist Ye Guozhu applied for permission to protest against forced eviction to make way for the Olympics. What happened to him next? He was detained, charged and sentenced to 4 years in prison. He is due to be released in less than a week. But the police plugged him out of prison, told his family not to go to prison to pick him up, and relocated him to an unknown location. They said he is being kept out of sight to keep his family out of trouble during the Olympics and he won’t go home until after October 1.

Would others get the same experience if they apply to demonstrate during the Olympics? I am thinking if they don’t get arrested during the Games, the police would catch up with them when the festivities are over. Besides, the official was not completely open about the protest parks. The names of the parks were blurted out at the press conference and they were not included in the official transcript. The foreign journalists caught the names as much as they could for their reporting. As for the press in China, a quick search yielded a detailed English reporting in the online version of the Shanghai Daily. I wonder if there is any similar reports appearing in Chinese online, in a newspaper or on TV/radio so that ordinary citizens in China would hear about it.

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