Authorities in Beijing have been instructed to keep foreign media away from petitioners, according to a document issued by the Chinese Communist Party.
A petitioner in Beijing found the instructions, issued on August 6 by the Central Office of Joint conference of the Communist Party, and then passed them to media.
The memo said: “Today there were again four German reporters coming to film near the State Letters and Complaints Reception Office. According to the requirement of the Central Party Conference Office and State Letters and Complaints Office, local interceptors are strictly prohibited from staying near the Central and State Letter and Complaints Offices so as to avoid being sighted by overseas reporters. Relevant personnel will be held accountable for causing negative influence.”
Protesters have also complained about being turned away from Beijing’s designated protest parks, and at least one petitioner has been taken to a labour camp.
Beijing Olympic committee announced on July 23 that protestors would be allowed to air their grievances in three of Beijing’s parks, including World Park.
Liu Xueli, from Luoyang City, Henan Province, travelled to Beijing to appeal to authorities about the forced evictions in his village to make way for the Olympics, but was taken away before he could clarify why he was there.
Liu Xueli and other dissidents made their application through legal means, according to a report by Boxun.com.
But they were told that they needed to wait until after the conclusion of the opening ceremony before they could be granted approval.
A neighbour who watched the raid on Mr. Liu’s home said: "The landlord and [a group of others] raided her house. No chairs, no stools, documents have been removed. Everything is missing."
The report said Mr. Liu is now detained in a forced labour camp.
Another protestor, veteran military cadre Ms. Shan Chun, said the protest parks were set up by the CCP to deceive commoners.
Ms. Shan Chun said she tried to apply to hold a protest in one Beijing Olympic committee’s designated protest parks and was turned away.
But she was rejected and said the so-called demonstration area established by the authorities is nothing but a hoax.
Ms Shan said that the department would not accept any applications for demonstration permits and would not give an explanation for the refusal.
“That place actually does not deal with any applications at all. They try to persuade you not to take this action.
“They do not let us take this way, but ask us to go through the channel of appeal to resolve our problems. They are all cheating us, the grassroots people,” she said.
Ms Shan Chun said she also saw authorities turning away reporters who were trying to interview protestors.
“Some reporters seemed to try to do interviews, but were stopped by them. The reporters wanted to see if there were people lodging applications, and the results, but they were barred from entering,” she said.
Park employees told reporters at World Park that they had never heard of any protests or petitioners.
A report in the Los Angeles Times interviewed park staff, who denied there had been any protestors.
The report said, “There appeared to be more security personnel than visitors at the park”.
Nicholas Bequelin a researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch's Asia Division told CNN news,
"Designating unilaterally 'protest zones' for demonstrators does not equate to respecting the right to demonstrate because in this situation control comes first and the right second".