Tuesday, August 12, 2008
TOLERANCE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED
t the friendly, harmoniously authoritarian Olympics, Chinese police and military are frightening the tourists with their "stone faces" and really should try to smile more, says a senior IOC official. Evidently the security forces weren't required to take the friendliness and politeness courses. Chairman of the IOC's marketing commission, Gerhard Heiberg, said he had taken up the issue with Chinese officials.
"We think that in particular the military and police can behave in a different manner," Heiberg told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten. "They look like stone faces."Of course, scaring the wits out of visitors with stony-faced paramilitary police is a minor issue in the scheme of things. As far as I know, nobody promised friendly policemen. It's probably nothing more than terra cotta warrior syndrome.
"The Chinese are scaring the wits out of foreigners. We can't have it like this," said Heiberg. "When, in addition, they have weapons and look scary, it is even worse."
But other promises were made, apparently in bad faith. It isn't just the assurances China made both before and after the Olympics were awarded seven years ago which have been broken (better human rights, media freedom, more tolerance, etc.). Further promises made barely a few weeks ago are now shown to be as hollow as the officials that uttered them.
But in truth, petitioners are not permitted to enjoy this right until after the games are over. The "protest parks" are deserted, and applications to protest are never approved. Some Chinese citizens who have trusted this promise and tried to follow the government's requirements, have found that the applications are not even accepted. Others found out about the official hoax the hard way.
Liu Xueli, from Luoyang City, Henan Province, travelled to Beijing to appeal to authorities about the forced evictions in his village to make way for the Olympics, but was taken away before he could clarify why he was there.Mr. Liu's house was then raided, and he is now detained in a forced labour camp.
Liu Xueli and other dissidents made their application through legal means, according to a report by Boxun.com.
But they were told that they needed to wait until after the conclusion of the opening ceremony before they could be granted approval.
The memo said: "Today there were again four German reporters coming to film near the State Letters and Complaints Reception Office. According to the requirement of the Central Party Conference Office and State Letters and Complaints Office, local interceptors are strictly prohibited from staying near the Central and State Letter and Complaints Offices so as to avoid being sighted by overseas reporters. Relevant personnel will be held accountable for causing negative influence."Perhaps someone skilled in the intricacies of doublespeak could explain why the State Letters and Complaints Office doesn't permit anyone bearing such letters and complaints from being near it. Either the office's sign is wrong, or this is "permission" with CCP (not Chinese) characteristics.
Foreign freedom-loving demonstrators have already had a number of successes during the first days of the games. Several groups calling for religous freedom have protested in or around Tiananmen Square, and the Tibetan flag has been displayed in a number of locations. And, for the first time since the Communist revolution, an uncensored radio program was broadcast in the capital. Isn't electronic miniaturization wonderful?
But foreigners know the worst that can happen to them is to get roughed up a bit (like the Tibetan girl thrown down and bounced around on the floor on Sunday) and then expelled. Most courageous are those Chinese citizens who, despite the obvious risks to life and limb, demand justice for themselves, and those who attempt to exercise what the government assures them are their other "rights" -- to worship, for example.
Mr. Hua Huiqi is a "house-church" worshipper who has been subject to years of detentions, beatings and threats because of his religious practice. His 76 year old mother is the oldest inmate at Beijing Women's Prison, serving a 2 year sentence for appealing for her son's release from an earlier detention.
Mr. Hua and his brother were beaten by 7-8 plainclothes police as they were hustled into separate cars and taken for interrogation. After 4 or 5 hours' detention Mr. Hua was able to escape when his minders fell asleep, and he sent a letter to Human Rights in China.
"They asked me why I was going to Kuanjie Protestant Church to worship and threatened me, saying, 'You are not allowed to go to Kuanjie Protestant Church because President Bush is going there today. If you... go again, we will break your legs. We brought you here to wait for orders from our superiors. We shall see how they want to deal with you,'" Mr. Hua wrote.Hua Huiqi remains in hiding, afraid to return to his home.
Not only does China have its own religious police, it seems that it has a detachment of art police as well. The Chinese painter Zhang Hongtu, now based in New York, was carrying one of his works bound for an exhibition called "Go Game, Beijing!" at the German Embassy. The painting was titled, "Bird's Nest, in the Style of Cubism."
Customs officials told Zhang that the painting could not enter China because it contains "unacceptable" wording, the depiction of the stadium "isn't good enough," and the colors are "too dark and dull."You just can't make this stuff up. The painting is reproduced at the link.
A swimmer from China has just won the gold medal in swimming to freedom, and is now asking for political asylum in Taiwan.
The man, identified as Jai Wei, 40, told the coast guard he spent eight hours swimming from the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen to Lesser Kinmen, a tiny islet of Taiwan's offshore island of Kinmen, they said.The refugee said he had come from Xinjiang, but it turned out he wasn't a Uighur, but a Chinese soldier stationed in the Chinese-held territory.
"I have a question for Mr Rogge," wrote He Depu. "Each time you come to Beijing and see the joyous spectacles here, do you know that just 10 or so kilometres away, Beijing's political prisoners are suffering immensely for the progress of society and the elevation of human civilisation? Tens of thousands of prisoners in Beijing, each holding a bowl half-full of boiled vegetables, are training their eyes upon you. How does this make you feel?"Mr. He should probably not expect a reply, but I expect Human Rights in China will forward it to Mr. Rogge and hopefully he'll read it and feel at least a bit sheepish.
Some portion of the Olympic tourists might be induced to feel a bit sheepish themselves, if they would add this map to their collection of Beijing sightseeing guidemaps. Based on the work of the Tiananmen Mothers, this map shows the central Beijing locations where 176 Chinese people were murdered by their government in 1989, and the hospitals where their bodies were taken.
One glance is enough to show why some pro-CCP partisans continue insisting that "practically no one died in Tiananmen Square." It should be more properly known as the "Beijing Massacre." Wai to Claudia Rosett, who was there.