Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Like so many of you, I was mesmerized by the Summer Games in Beijing. As always, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat came front and center. The opening and closing ceremonies were spectacular, the achievements of the young athletes were inspiring. But, the Chinese people were clueless over the controversies swirling around the 2008 games.

They didn't know Olympic officials were questioning the ages of the very young looking female gymnasts.

They didn't know that Eight Americans were sentenced to 10-days in jail for staging a pro-Tibet rally without a permit. The Chinese did know that for the first time ever, Beijing was prepared to dole out permits for protests in designated staging areas.

What they didn't know was that not a single one of the dozens of applications was approved. Not a single "legal" protest was held. The Chinese people also didn't know what happened to two of their own, a pair of Chinese women in their late 70's.

They were thrown in jail for a year, not for protesting, but, get this, for asking to protest. Seems the Chinese government got a little sick and tired of their FIVE pestering attempts to apply for a legal permit to do what any American can do on our streets without a permit! Neither of these elderly ladies had a trial. Instead, they were handed what's known as an "administrative sentence." That would be like a police officer in New York City arresting you for shoplifting and then putting you in jail for a year. The Chinese government describes the sentence as "a year of re-education through labor." Mao Tse-Tung would be so proud!

China says the women, ages 75 and 79, disturbed the public peace. WTF! Only in China can you disturb the "public peace" by not doing anything public. They showed up at the police station and applied for permits.

The Chinese people will never know about any of these stories. Their media and even, Internet bloggers are muzzled. Reporting of anti-China stories will also land its citizens in jail, but the government won't even give them a chance to hang themselves.

Instead, through technology they are able to block not only broadcasts of negative stories, but they frequently jam Internet sites. China and the rest of the world will never know what the Chinese people really think or what their most heroic citizens have done in their lonely attempt to infuse freedom of speech, religion and assembly.

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