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Elderly would-be protesters face labor camp

August 21, 2008|From the Associated Press

BEIJING — Two elderly Chinese women who applied to hold a protest during the Olympics were ordered to spend a year in a labor camp, a relative said Wednesday.

The women were still at home three days after being officially notified that they would have to undergo reeducation through labor, but were under surveillance, said Li Xuehui, the son of one of the women.

Li said no cause was given for the order to imprison his 79-year-old mother, Wu Dianyuan, and her neighbor Wang Xiuying, 77.

"Wang Xiuying is almost blind and disabled. What sort of reeducation through labor can she serve?" Li said in a telephone interview. "But they can also be taken away at any time."

Beijing said last month that it would allow protests in three parks far from the Olympic venues but that they had to be approved in advance.

Of about 77 reported applications, none have been approved, and human rights groups have called the zones a charade.

Meanwhile, swarms of plainclothes police set upon four foreign activists early today as they tried to protest Chinese rule over Tibet -- the latest in a series of unsanctioned demonstrations.

The four unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the National Stadium, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said. It put the number of police officers at 50.

The activists were identified as two Americans, one Briton and one Tibetan German.

Two Associated Press photographers were roughed up by plainclothes security officers and questioned before being released. Memory cards from their cameras were taken.

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