Accessibility links

China Deports Foreign Falun Gong Followers - 2002-02-15

China has deported some foreign followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, a day after about 40 of them demonstrated in Tiananmen Square. Thursday's protest appears to be the biggest yet staged in China by Western members of the group.

Diplomats say China has expelled at least four Britons and five Germans detained during Thursday's protest in Tiananmen Square by some 40 Western followers of the Falun Gong spiritual group.

The Falun Gong says that as many as a hundred Western followers of its group planned to take part in the demonstration.

Hong Kong-based Falun Gong spokeswoman Sophie Xiao says that other Europeans such as Austrians, Swedes and French had also traveled to Beijing for the protest. But Ms. Xiao says police searched hotels prior to the demonstration, and detained at least a dozen Westerners in their rooms. She adds that the group is planning more protests in the future. "Western practitioners express themselves (as wanting to) continue to do this until this killing is over, which is the killing of Chinese innocent people and innocent practitioners," Sophie Xiao said.

The protest was the second this week in Beijing by Western members of the banned spiritual group. China deported a Canadian and an American Tuesday, a day after they demonstrated in Tiananmen Square.

The high-profile demonstrations come a week before President Bush is to visit China. The issue of human rights and China's treatment of such groups as the Falun Gong are expected to a major point of contention during the summit.

Thursday's protest against the Chinese crackdown on the Falun Gong appears to be the largest yet staged by Western members of the group in Beijing. The Falun Gong says that since China banned its group in 1999 as an evil cult, hundreds of its followers have died from torture or mistreatment in detention camps.