Pro-Tibet Protesters Speak Out
Ginger Cassady and Alice Speller, members of Students for a Free Tibet, spoke at a press conference in Beijing Friday. The grassroots activist group has managed to pull off eight separate demonstrations since Aug. 6.
Cassady, 30, from San Francisco, works for a forest conservation organization. Speller, 25, is a law student from Great Britain.
Our news assistant Crissie Ding and I joined other journalists in talking to them about their feelings about China, Tibet and the Olympics.
The activists confirmed that the six Americans being held by Beijing police on a 10-day detention charge are from their organization. Cassady said she has not heard from the men and women since their capture and that she hopes for their safe and speedy return to the U.S.
Speller said she believes the group's protests have been successful in bringing the Tibet issue to the attention of the world.
China says it liberated Tibet in 1950 from feudal serfdom. Critics like Students for a Free Tibet say that China is illegally occupying Tibet.
"When China was awarded the Beijing Olympics, protest was inevitable," Speller said.
She added: "It's very clear that China is using the Beijing Olympics as a propaganda tool to legitimize its occupation of Tibet."
A police sedan, a van and about a 10 police in uniform and more in plainclothes came to observe the gathering, which took place just outside one of Beijing's diplomatic compounds. But Chinese security forces did not stop the women from speaking and did not detain them--at least not during the press conference.
By evening, Cassady's mobile phone was disconnected and the two women could not be reached.
--Ariana Eunjung Cha
August 22, 2008; 10:30 AM ET
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