Chinese authorities sentence elderly protest applicants to year's labour
Wu Dianyuan, 79, and her neighbour Wang Xiuying, 77, sought to protest about their forced eviction from their homes in 2001. They went to the Beijing Public Security Bureau four times this month to request permission to demonstrate in the new zones — created for the Olympics to counter criticism of the limits to political expression in China.
Their applications were neither granted nor denied, but on their first trip PSB officers interrogated them for 10 hours, Wu's son, Li Xuehui, told the New York-based group Human Rights in China.
On August 17, the two women received an order dated July 30 from Beijing's "re-education through labour commission" sentencing them to one year for "disturbing the public order". It placed restrictions on their movements and warned that if they breached any of the requirements they would be sent to a labour camp. The system does not require formal hearings or allow appeals.
Li told the Associated Press the women were at home under the observation of a neighbourhood committee. He said no cause had been given for the order.
When Wu and Wang returned to the PSB on August 18, officers said they could not apply to protest because of their sentence.
"Punishing Wu and Wang after they applied for protest permits and actively petitioned the government demonstrates that the official statements touting the new Olympics protest zones … were no more than a show," said Sharon Hom, the executive director of Human Rights in China.