10 July 2008

Let the Games Begin

Pre-Olymipic checklist in the People's Republic of China:

  1. Build staduim
  2. Expand airport
  3. Clean up river
  4. Jail journalists
Huang, who had already served a five-year prison term for political material posted on his Web site, had just published an article about China's latest forbidden topic: shoddy construction of school buildings in Sichuan province, where more than 9,000 children were killed when their classrooms collapsed in the May 12 earthquake.

As Huang predicted, when he and two friends walked out of that restaurant in Chengdu on June 10, the police closed in. He is being held in a detention house in the city, the capital of Sichuan province, charged with illegal possession of state secrets, a catchall term often used to stifle dissent.

Huang, 45, is among dozens of Chinese writers and lawyers who have been convicted, detained, placed under house arrest, tailed or otherwise harassed as part of China's broad crackdown on dissent in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Beijing next month. At least 44 writers are in Chinese prisons in violation of their rights to free expression, more than at the beginning of the year, according to a report released Tuesday by the PEN American Center, an advocacy group.
When the government is in charge of everything, people are slaves to the state; plain and simple.

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