January 24, 2002áá China's determination to crush the Falun Gong has sparked protests around the worldááááá BEIJING, China (AP) -- A Canadian follower of Falun Gong has been expelled from China after being detained for protesting in Beijing's Tiananmen Square against the country's ban on the spiritual group.

Connie Chipkar, 61, left aboard a British Airways flight for London, said Charles Reeves, spokesman for the Canadian Embassy.

Chipkar, a former teacher from Welland, Ontario, was detained Wednesday after she sang and held out her arms on Tiananmen Square. She was wearing a sash that read "Falun Gong" and "SOS."

The square is the symbolic political heart of China and the site of frequent protests by Falun Gong supporters. Chipkar's son took part in a demonstration there in November by 35 Western followers of the group.

They also were detained and expelled.

Chipkar was held overnight at a Beijing hotel but wasn't arrested, Reeves said. He said Chinese officials described her expulsion by saying they had "shortened her stay."


Police have detained thousands of Chinese followers of Falun Gong during protests on Tiananmen Square against the ban, often beating and kicking them.

Falun Gong accuses Chinese authorities of torturing and mistreating detainees. It says 350 have been killed, 500 sentenced to prison, more than 1,000 sent to mental hospitals and 20,000 detained in labor camps.

Reeves said he didn't know of any penalty imposed on Chipkar. The Westerners expelled after the November demonstration said they had been banned from visiting China for five years.


Most protests against the ban on Falun Gong have been by Chinese members, but there have been scattered protests in recent months by foreign supporters.

Chipkar's son, Joel, said in Canada that his mother turned to Falun Gong in 1998 after years of depression over the death of another son from cancer.

"When she started to practice Falun Gong, I saw her face just lift and she became very, very peaceful and compassionate," said Joel Chipkar.