Article written by David Sandford [GreatDaney]
Published in General-Culture at 11:12 on Monday, 6th April 2009
This is completely out of date now and irrelevant I guess, as the Olympics in all its forms (para or otherwise) has finally come to an end. But maybe its a good time to look back. On the whole I think it was massively successful. Good for Great Britain in their achievement and promising for the London Olympics in 2012. Even though the contrived and embarrassing "handing over" ceremony had to take place... We could have sent Jim Davidson and Prince Phillip and it probably would have been less embarrassing than Boris Johnson.
China seemed to come out of it ok as well, considering all the trouble that was surrounding the event with their adventures in Tibet. However, one thing which bothered me a lot, while also being an amazing stroke of "evil genius" and astounding totalitarian logic, were the issues surrounding "protest parks". Theres plenty of articles on this shit, some of which I have read, hence why i am basically rehashing them here, but its worth it.
Protest parks were designated before the start of the Olympics, as I believe is always the case, as people know the eyes of the world are watching and see the event as a potential place to get their message across. It's therefore in the interest of the organisers to provide space for this to take place, rather than having people throwing themselves all over the track or belly flopping into the swimming pool. Obviously with the pressure China was under with their unsavoury human rights record and recent exploits the Beijing Olympics was a particular target for protest and perhaps even worse. However much it goes against the grain of the policy of the Chinese government (or the popular western view of it), they were always going to have to provide people with some "freedom" to speak their mind.
It was then a surprise to many considering the outrage streaming towards China, that these designated places of protest and demonstration remained lacking in outraged, tie-dyed hippies (not sure these get so involved any more anyway....) and clue-less posing students (these definitely do...), let alone protesters who actually had something to say.
It was not a surprise however, to the Chinese government. In order for one to set foot in one of these parks and utter a word of even mild reproof concerning Chinas exploits it was necessary to fill in a form officially requesting the right to protest. The people who dared to fill in this document were appeased in some way, whether pleasant or otherwise I am unsure, or they were arrested. It's like the Nazi's running the "annual Jew awards" ("come on in, everyone's a winner"). Provide the parks, get the unhappy people to announce themselves and then arrest them. Simple. Everyone's happy. Apparently only one of the requests had to be officially rejected, all the others were "sorted out". I can imagine all "the boys" in the Chinese government sitting around discussing how the plan would work, chuckling contentedly after a very brief discussion and moving onto where to send the army next.
"it's easy this democracy lark, isn't it?"
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