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Canadian protester detained in Beijing, says pro-Tibet group

August 11, 2008

Tobin Dalrymple and Randy Newell
Canwest News Service
August 9, 2008

BEIJING -- A pro-Tibet demonstration in Tiananmen Square ended
Saturday when Chinese police detained a Canadian student and four others.

Chris Schwartz, a 24-year-old student from Concordia University in
Montreal was led away by police about 10 minutes after the protest began.

Schwartz was narrating a theatrical street protest as the four others
draped themselves in Tibetan national flags and staged a mock "die
in," said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet.

"The Chinese government is seeking to cover up its ugly occupation of
Tibet with the bright lights of the Olympics," said Matt Whitticase
of the Free Tibet Campaign. "Our action at Tiananmen Square today
highlights the determination of Tibetans and people of conscience
that no amount of repression from the Chinese government will
extinguish the desire of Tibetans for freedom and to speak out
against China's worsening abuses in Tibet."

Officials in plain clothes lead the protesters away and brought them
inside a building near the square - they had not been seen since,
said Tethong in a telephone interview Saturday morning. Reporters and
others followed the group to the building, but later dispersed after
"undercover police" started to take pictures of the group outside,
said Tethong.

The incident comes a day after the Olympic Games officially began in
the Chinese capital. In the lead-up to the Games, concerns were
voiced over China's handling of human rights protests and freedom of

Calls made to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing were not immediately
returned, but the embassy has been notified of the Canadian's arrest,
said Tethong.

The demonstration was organized by two pro-Tibet advocacy groups -
the New York City-based Students for a Free Tibet, and the U.K.-based
Free Tibet Campaign. Both are calling for an end of what they say is
a Chinese-government occupation of Tibet.

The other four detained are David Demes, 21, from Germany, Evan
Silverman, 31, Diane Gatterdam, 55, and Joan Roney, 39, from the United States.

Another pro-Tibet demonstrator in a similar event was detained the same day.

Christina Chan tried to unveil a Tibetan flag during the first day of
competition, but was promptly removed by officials from an equestrian
event, according to a BBC report.

She had hidden the Tibetan flag beneath a Canadian flag.

When asked to leave, she refused to do so, and was later removed from
the arena with a second protester, the news agency reported.

China bans the Tibetan flag from the events under rules which prevent
the display of flags of countries not competing in the Games.

Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation when communist
troops invaded in 1950 but Beijing says the region has been part of
its territory for hundreds of years.
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