Case 4-3: Austrian Citizen Arrested and Beaten, then Deported Back to Austria

Country: Austria

Name: Alexander Maximilian Hamrle (32), Controller, Austrian

Location of incident: Changchun, China


Alexander Hamrle had decided to go to Changchun, China after learning of the mass arrests and deaths due to torture that had occurred in that area during March 2002.

Changchun is the place where Falun Gong was first taught, and Mr. Hamrle chose the 'birthday' of Falun Gong, May 13, to go. He planned to tell the hotel employer his thoughts on Falun Gong.

He was later arrested in the hotel.

The police gave no reason for the arrest, but asked for his passport and brought him to the police station. After questioning, three men came to bring him back to the hotel. Mr. Hamrle refused to go with them, and the three men then forced him to go by beating and kicking him outside the police station. He was also handcuffed. Concerning his treatment by police, Mr. Hamrle recalled that he is still "not able to feel with four fingers of [his] left hand now, three months later."

Because they could not carry him into the car, they instead brought him for more questioning. Mr. Hamrle refused to talk while in handcuffs, he said that he had not done anything wrong and he wanted to speak with the Austrian ambassador because he should be protected by international laws. After the handcuffs were taken off, he was told that international laws were not valid in China. He was never allowed to call the Austrian ambassador.

The police questioned as to whether Mr. Hamrle knew that Falun Gong is forbidden in China. They were unable to answer when he responded that this was not true, as everyone has the right to freedom of belief.

Mr. Hamrle was later brought to his hotel, where he was supervised constantly. He was deported on a flight from Beijing to London, but was not given the connecting flight from London to Austria.

His friends and family were first told that he'd be free within 24 hours. They were then told that it would be 48 hours. Finally, they were told that it was unknown how long he would be in China.