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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 15:00 GMT
China expels Western 'cult' members
Canadian protester being detained
The protesters posed as Western tourists
China has deported 35 Westerners who staged a demonstration in Beijing in support of the banned Falun Gong movement.

They were detained after unfurling banners and refusing to move from Tiananmen Square.

From one room they took us to a big, very big and very dirty cell with iron bars, and a very dirty floor which we had to sit on

Swedish protester Liliane
Police sources told the state-run Xinhua news agency that they had been treated with humanitarian concern.

But one of the protesters told the BBC they had been treated roughly by the police, and kept in filthy prison conditions.

"They first brought us [as] prisoners to Tiananmen police station. From one room they took us to a big, very big and very dirty cell with iron bars, and a very dirty floor which we had to sit on, and we were then transferred in buses to somewhere else - I don't really know what it is," she said.

But she added that their treatment was mild compared to that of most Chinese members of the movement.

The Chinese authorities said the demonstrators who come from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland had violated laws on assembly and cult membership.

Surprise protest

Witnesses say the group of Westerners arrived posing as tourists, then suddenly unfurled a banner before assuming their trademark meditative position.

Police arrive on the scene in Tiananmen Square
Banner read: Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance

A Falun Gong spokeswoman in Paris said they wanted to show the world that Falun Gong practitioners inside China faced what she called acts of terrorism by the Chinese Government.

Uniformed and plain clothes policemen, who routinely patrol the square to prevent Falun Gong protests, were at the scene within 30 seconds.

When the Falun Gong practitioners refused to move, they were picked up and carried to waiting mini-buses before being driven away to a nearby police station.

State media said the foreign protesters were ordered to leave China "within a specified time" after being warned by the police.

TV denouncement

The BBC Beijing correspondent, Duncan Hewitt, says the protest came as Chinese television broadcast an interview with a leading US-based Falun Gong activist, Teng Chunyan, jailed for three years last year for providing the Western media with information about the movement.

She was shown on television denouncing Falun Gong as a violent cult which manipulated its followers and broke Chinese law.

The Falun Gong movement has issued a series of statements in recent months accusing Chinese officials of torturing or killing dozens of practitioners in detention centres and labour camps.

Falun Gong supporters recently filed a lawsuit in New York accusing a Chinese provincial police chief of murder.

See also:

20 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
China expels Western 'cult' members
31 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong women die in detention
19 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Heavy sentences for Falun Gong members
17 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China jails four for 'suicide protest'
22 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong protest quashed
14 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese 'cult busters' set up
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