Thursday November 22, 2001

TORONTO (CP) - One of two Canadians who took part in protests in the heart of Beijing against China's repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement arrived home to a cheering crowd of family and friends late Wednesday.

Detainee Zenon Dolnyckyj, 23, of Toronto, was one of almost three dozen Westerners expelled from China for protesting Tuesday in Tiananmen Square. More than 50 supporters carrying signs broke into cheers and songs when Dolnyckyj arrived at Pearson airport.

"I am still thinking of the people inside China. . . some of the people still deceived by the propaganda and still don't know how good Falun Gong is," an exhausted Dolnyckyj said.

During a brief stopover in Vancouver, Dolnyckyj said he was beaten and made to "write statements" during his detention.

"I was beaten in Tiananmen Square. My nose was bleeding and I was punched all over the body and in the head," he said. "I was dragged into a van. We were detained for over 24 hours.

"During that time, many people were also pushed, slapped and kicked and hit and they were trying to get us to write statements."

But Dolnyckyj told Toronto supporters that he felt bad for the Chinese officer who hit him.

"Even afterwards I was very concerned about him because I know that it was really bad for him to beat another person."

He said he wan't surprised by the arrests knowing how "vicious they are."

Dolnyckyj said he wasn't planning to go to back China anytime soon, saying it wasn't clear if he would be allowed back.

He hugged his mother and nearly broke down.

"As a parent the first thing I want to do is to take him to a doctor to make sure everything is where it is supposed to be," said Orysia McCabe.

"I am very relieved, actually quite elated, that he is coming home. I was concerned in the beginning not so much for his safety . . .but because the Chinese government was not responding, they made no official comment and would not tell anybody where they were."

Fellow Canadian protester Joel Chipkar, also of Toronto, arrived in Canada earlier.


The demonstrators called for an end to China's often brutal [persecution] on Falun Gong. The group says more than 300 practitioners have died from torture and abuse in custody since China's [party's name omitted] leaders outlawed the movement in July 1999. Thousands of followers have been imprisoned.

Chinese Falun Gong members are regularly detained and often beaten and kicked for demonstrating on Tiananmen Square, the country's symbolic heart. But Tuesday's protest was the first to involve only Western supporters of the movement.

Falun Gong said demonstrators also included Australians, French, Germans, Irish, Israelis, Swedes, Swiss, Britons and Americans. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said six Americans detained had all been expelled by Wednesday evening.

Seven demonstrators were Swedes, said the Swedish ambassador to China, Kjell Anneling, noting that the protest would focus attention on allegations of official brutality against Falun Gong adherents.

Sweden, like many European countries, has told Chinese officials their treatment of Falun Gong followers "is not acceptable," Anneling said.

Falun Gong attracted members in the late 1990s with a combination of slow-motion exercises and [...] the teachings of its founder, Li Hongzhi.

Falun Gong followers believe Li's teachings and meditation promote health, good citizenship and even supernatural powers for accomplished practitioners.