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IC Wales Network (UK): China expels British protestors

November 24, 2001 |  

Nov 22 2001

China has expelled British protesters along with more than 30 other Westerners who demonstrated in Tiananmen Square against the government's treatment of followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Official Chinese media said today that all 35 demonstrators had left China. On Tuesday afternoon, the protesters sat cross-legged on Tiananmen Square, chanted and unfurled a banner before police took them away.

Rigmor Petterson, a consular official for the Swedish Embassy in Beijing, said she had spoken briefly with members of the group before they departed. A woman protester had black bruises on her arms, Petterson said, and all demonstrators said they had been banned from re-entering China for five years.

Sweden protested to the Chinese Foreign Ministry for not providing consular access to foreign nationals. The embassy also objected to what it called the harsh physical treatment of those detained, though police used far less violence in removing the foreign protesters than they typically use to arrest Chinese Falun Gong followers.

[...] It was the first Falun Gong demonstration on Tiananmen Square to involve Westerners exclusively. The square is China's symbolic heart and has been a frequent venue for protests by Chinese Falun Gong members since the group was banned in July 1999 [...].

[...] Falun Gong said demonstrators included Britons, Australians, Canadians, French, Germans, Irish, Israelis, Swedes, Swiss, and Americans. The US Embassy said six Americans were deported.

Demonstrators said they wanted to highlight the plight of Chinese Falun Gong followers. Falun Gong says 300 followers have died from torture and mistreatment in custody. Thousands have been imprisoned. The group attracted millions of Chinese followers in the 1990s. Practitioners believe Falun Gong aids health and even gives accomplished followers supernatural powers.