U.S. Christian Protesters Detained, Pro-Tibet Activists Deported
Three American Christian activists calling for greater religious freedom in China were kneeling to conduct a prayer vigil in Tiananmen Square earlier today when plainclothes security guards dragged them off their knees and took them away.
Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, was able to speak to a small group of reporters before he was apprehended. "We have come here today to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government," he said, according to Reuters.
The group had briefly protested on Wednesday in the same place but were stopped by police when they held up a yellow banner that said "Jesus Christ is king" in English and Mandarin and asked to leave the square.
Meanwhile, the four foreign activists who unfurled giant Tibetan flags outside the Olympic Stadium yesterday were deported from China and are scheduled to arrive at home today, according to a statement released by Students for a Free Tibet.
In the first major protest in the weeks leading up to the games, the protestors--two Americans and two British citizens--scaled an electricity pole outside the sports venue before Chinese security personnel apprehended them.
Phill Bartell from Denver and Tirian Mink from Portland were sent to San Francisco while Iain Thom and Lucy Marion were deported to Frankfurt and were expected to continue back home to London.
"We took this peaceful action in Beijing yesterday to shine a spotlight on the Chinese government's lethal military crackdown inside Tibet and its attempt to use the Beijing Olympics to cover up its human rights abuses there," Bartell said.
The Chinese government has been aggressively trying to keep people it believes are troublemakers from entering the country during the games. It has tightened visa policies and has been scrutinizing people who enter the country and are suspected of being critical of China.
In recent days, however, several small clashes have broken out in prominent parts of Beijing.
--Ariana Eunjung Cha
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