Guardian (UK newspaper) Reports on Arrest of Western Practitioners

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Beijing kicks out western protest group

John Gittings in Shanghai
Guardian Wednesday November 21, 2001

Western supporters of the banned Falun Gong [group] took the Chinese police by surprise yesterday by staging a protest in Tiananmen Square where they held a sit-in and chanted slogans. Many Chinese Falun Gong supporters have been arrested for demonstrating in the square in Beijing since the group was banned more than two years ago by the authorities, who see non-official groups as a threat. Some foreign supporters have picked up the baton. After yesterday's sit-in, 35 foreigners were ordered to leave the country, the authorities said, for having disrupted public order and "broken Chinese law".

The westerners had arrived as tourists. Mostly in their 20s and 30s, they came from 10 countries including Britain, France, Sweden and the US.

They went to Tiananmen and sat down with their eyes closed and hands joined together in the sect's meditative posture. One protester ran in circles near ... Chinese onlookers, shouting "Falun Gong is good!"


A statement issued by the [group's] supporters in London yesterday said that the people arrested in Tiananmen Square were "standing up for the freedom of belief of Falun Gong practitioners in China". It alleges that more than 100,000 [group] followers have been arrested and tens of thousands thrown into labour camps. China acknowledges that several thousand have been committed to reform institutions, usually without trial.

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