By AUDRA ANG – 1 hour ago
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have not approved any of the 77 applications they received from people who wanted to hold protests during the Beijing Olympics, state media reported Monday.
The official Xinhua News Agency said all the applications were withdrawn, suspended or rejected. Rights groups and relatives have said some applicants were immediately taken away by security agents after applying to hold a rally, prompting critics to accuse officials of using the plan as a trap to draw potential protesters to their attention.
The Xinhua report provided the first details about Beijing's plan to allow strictly regulated protests in three designated areas during the Aug. 8-24 games. The plan was intended to deflect criticism over China's poor human rights record, which came under increased scrutiny in the run-up to the Olympics. But there has not been one demonstration in any of the three venues since the games began.