Saturday, Aug 2, 2008
Behind the gray walls and barbed wire of the prison here, eight Chinese farmers with a grievance against the government have been consigned to Olympic limbo.
Their indefinite detainment, relatives and neighbors said, is the price they are paying for stirring up trouble as China prepares to host the Beijing Games. Trouble, the Communist Party has made clear, will not be permitted.
“My bet is the authorities won’t let them out until after the Olympics,” said Wang Xiahua, a veteran anti-government agitator from this farm town 180 miles southwest of Beijing and a supporter of the imprisoned farmers.
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The Olympic Games have become the occasion for a broad crackdown against dissidents, gadflies and malcontents this summer. Although human rights activists say they have no accurate estimate of how many people have been imprisoned, they believe the figure to be in the thousands.
The crackdown comes seven years after the secretary general of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee declared that staging the Games in the Chinese capital would “not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights.”
Now, human rights have been set back rather than enhanced, activists say.
“The Olympics have reversed the clock,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based specialist for Human Rights in China.
This article was posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008 at 6:53 am