Olympic whitewash

Surprisingly the international edition of the German magazine "Spiegel" has a long article about the Olympic committee's "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" act when it comes to the freedom to protest that the Chinese promised when they won the games, but have--surprise! surprise!--not delivered.

Rogge's Silence: The Phantoms of the Beijing Opera.

As far as my extremely-rusty German goes, I can not find the same article in the German edition. But on Monday they did print an article about a protester that was arrested when he applied for a permit to demonstrate--this was what the Chinese government promised to allow: like in the US, the Chinese set up specific protest areas and were to allow permits to grant people the right to protest. So far, 77 applications to protest have been filed. None resulted in permits, but most resulted in the arrest of the person filing the request.

Newsweek has a similar article: Why China Sentences 70-Year-Olds
If anyone needs an example of how brittle China's Communist Party leaders think their country is, look no further than the case of Wang Xiuying and Wu Dianyuan. The elderly women, who both walk with canes and have failing eyesight, were sentenced to serve one-year terms in a labor camp after they applied to hold a legal protest in Beijing. And if you think there was no method to this madness, that it's somehow the fault of some random thug in the Ministry of Public Security, I'd caution you to think again.

[...] So when Wang and Wu heard that, with the Olympics, authorities in Beijing had set aside special protest zones in three parks, they applied. Not once but four times. On the fourth time, they were detained and then sentenced -- by the cops, not a judge -- to a labor camp. (They haven't been incarcerated yet but will if they violate various provisions or regulations.)
Time picked up the same story about the grannies being sent to a labor camp.

The Washington Post picked up the non-existent protests too. In fact, they went along when a prominent protester invited the media with him when he went to apply. He ended up disappearing: After Friend Disappears, Ji Sizun Confronts Police and is Detained Himself.
When the Chinese government announced at the end of July that it would set up special zones where people could demonstrate during the Beijing Olympics, it seemed almost too good to be true. For months, the country had been under fire from critics who accused it of trying to kill dissent ahead of the games.

While optimists said the fact that Beijing is allowing any public protest at all is a victory for human rights, pessimists worried that the whole thing was a set up and the applications would be used to round up protesters and control their movements during the games.
Obviously, the pessimists were right.

WaPo: "The three protest zones have so far remained empty of demonstrators."
At least the IOC has made a little noise about this.
[Globe and Mail] In a tacit criticism of China's intolerance of dissent, the International Olympic Committee says the Chinese government should have allowed its official protest zones to be "genuinely used" by demonstrators, rather than letting them sit empty.

It is the latest sign of IOC discontent with China's unwillingness to permit any demonstrations at the three parks where the government had promised to allow protests during the Beijing Olympics.

Beijing announced this week that it had received 77 applications from 149 people who wanted to protest at the designated zones during the Games. Yet no protests have taken place. All of the applications were "withdrawn" or rejected for various reasons, according to the city government.

In reality, many of those who applied were detained or jailed by the authorities, human-rights groups say, arguing that China used the protest zones as a propaganda tactic to give the appearance of complying with international standards, while actually using the application process to identify potential protesters.
Other articles: Daily Telegraph (London), New York Times, AP, The Star (Toronto).