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The BBC's Duncan Hewitt
"Activists raised red and yellow flags bearing the group's name in Chinese"
 real 28k

Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Falun Gong protesters arrested
Police stepped up patrols in the square
The Chinese police have detained at least 100 members of the banned Falun Gong movement for staging a series of coordinated protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square - China's symbolic political heart.

Eyewitnesses said six groups of demonstrators - many of them middle-aged women - briefly raised banners before being kicked, punched and pushed into vans by plainclothed and uniformed police.

The police subsequently stepped up patrols in Tiananmen Square, searching the crowds of tourists, confiscating film from cameras and checking identity cards.

A spokeswoman for the Falun Gong movement in New York said she believed the activists were responding to reports of a heightened campaign against the movement ahead of the first anniversary of its protest outside government headquarters.

Falun Gong members have been arrested in previous protests
Nearly 90 minutes later scattered protests were still going on, with at least four more banners raised by groups of between five and 10 people.

At least five van loads of protesters were rounded up and driven off.

But the protests continued with at least two groups raising banners again inside the police cars.

Beijing alarm

A year ago, about 10,000 Falun Gong members stood in silence around the government compound in Beijing to protest criticism of the group by the state press.

Communist leaders, alarmed by the size and intensity of its following, banned Falun Gong.

Founded by a former government clerk, the group was said by officials at one point to have about 70 million members.

The Chinese government says the group is an evil cult that led to the death of followers and caused great harm to society.

The government ban on the movement "actually protected China's human rights", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said on Thursday.

The Beijing police and the Ministry of Public Security said they did not know anything about the protest.

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