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Protest Planned as Discontent Seethes in Beijing

July 16, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that more than 1,000 people plan a public protest in Beijing on the morning of July 17 to voice their concerns about perceived threats to their livelihoods.

According to HRIC’s sources in Beijing, these people have stationed themselves outside of the Beijing municipal government offices in Zhengyi Road daily since late June demanding redress for a variety of problems. The most common types of protesters include: people forced from their homes in urban redevelopment projects; people who believe they were sentenced to reeducation through labor on trumped-up charges; and dozens of doctors and nurses who risked their lives during the SARS epidemic, only to be sacked after the crisis passed.

Beijing’s Public Security Bureau has deployed hundreds of police officers and dozens of police vehicles to the scene every day to maintain order. But up to now the police have refrained from arresting or dispersing the protesters, and seem to be concerned largely with preventing forced entry into the government offices.

The protesters usually appear at the government offices around 8 a.m., shout slogans and demands and pass out statements on human rights, then typically leave the scene of their own volition sometime in the afternoon. But HRIC’s sources say that the protesters, having obtained no official response over the past month, now plan to go to the municipal Public Security Bureau first thing on July 17 and apply for permission to stage a public protest.

“It appears that more and more people in China are feeling a serious threat to their livelihood and personal well-being,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “So far the Beijing authorities appear to be handling this group of protesters with restraint. We hope the protesters will be granted official permission to continue to air their views in a peaceful public demonstration. Official attempts to suppress their protests could too easily erupt into an ugly incident.”

HRIC urges the Chinese government to respond to complaints from these protesters and others, and to address the political and social conditions that infringe on the rights and well-being of defenseless members of society.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English): (212)268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese): (212)239-4495

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