Alexa

Police detain foreign and Chinese activists

Police detain foreign and Chinese activists

A group of foreign pro-Tibet activists and some disgruntled business owners from Hong Kong were rounded up by Chinese authorities Thursday in the latest suppression of protests at the Olympic Games.
A group of five men, two women and a teenage girl went to the Zhongnanhai compound in central Beijing where China's leaders live and work and waved a green and yellow sign that said "Hong Kong businesses want justice." After about five minutes they were taken away by police.
One of the demonstrators, Wang Pei, told The Associated Press by telephone the group had wanted to protest at one of three areas in Beijing that the government said protests would be allowed during the games.
"But police put up many obstacles to make it difficult," Wang said from a police station where the group was being held.
Wang said he and several others in the group had invested in a business in Shanghai but had been cheated out of their money and had not been able to reclaim it despite winning a court ruling that awarded them 1 million yuan (US$150,000) in a settlement.
"The court has given us a victory but we still can't get our money," Wang said.
Earlier, police seized four activists protesting Chinese rule in Tibet as they unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the National Stadium, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said.
The group put the number of police at 50. A spokeswoman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau declined comment, and their whereabouts of the activists was not known.
"The fact that there were so many undercover police following them just made them go with the action urgently," said Kate Woznow, the group's campaigns director.
Two Associated Press photographers were roughed up by plainclothes security officers, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they were questioned before being released. Memory cards from their cameras were confiscated.
Beijing has used the existence of the three protest areas as a way to defend its promise to improve human rights in China that was crucial to its bid to win the games.
Some 77 applications were lodged to hold protests, none went ahead. Rights groups say the zones were just a way for the Chinese government to put on an appearance of complying with international standards. A handful who sought a permit to demonstrate was taken away by security officials, rights groups said.
The rough treatment and intimidation being meted out to foreigners and elderly Chinese underscores the authorities' determination to prevent any disruption during the Olympics.
Earlier this week, two elderly Chinese women _ Wu Dianyuan, 79, and her neighbor Wang Xiuying, 77 _ who applied to protest were told they would be sent to a labor camp for a year. They were still at home Thursday under the surveillance of a government-sanctioned neighborhood watch group, Wang's son Li Xuehui said.
Li said no cause was given for the order to imprison the pair. Activists said the order was an intimidation tactic.
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Associated Press writer Chi-Chi Zhang in Beijing contributed to the story.