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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China gives 6 American protesters 10-day detentions

August 24, 2008

By Andrew Jacobs
The International Herald Tribune (France)
August 23, 2008

BEIJING -- A group of six Americans who were taken into custody on
Tuesday as they tried to protest China's rule in Tibet have been
given 10-day detentions, the Chinese police confirmed Friday.

But activists from the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said
Friday that they had no information about four other protesters who
were detained early Thursday during a protest near National Stadium,
also known as the Bird's Nest. The four are two Americans, a German
and a Briton.

Extrajudicial detentions, a common punishment for Chinese dissidents,
are rarely handed out to foreigners, who are often deported almost
immediately after being taken into custody.

Members of Students for a Free Tibet have staged eight protests
involving 55 people since the Olympics began on Aug. 8. Human rights
advocates speculated that the government might be seeking to deter
those contemplating similar activities in the Games' final days.

J. Alexander Hamilton, a spokesman for the American Embassy in
Beijing, said United States officials were working with Chinese
authorities to gain more information about the detainees. "Our policy
is to encourage the Chinese government to respect free expression and
freedom of religion, which are protected by law," he said.

Reached by phone, Public Security Bureau officials declined to
comment but faxed a two-sentence statement explaining that the six
Americans had been "apprehended for upsetting public order." The
statement, which did not include the detainees' names, said the men
were being held at the Dongcheng police station in Beijing.

According to Students for a Free Tibet, among those in custody are
Brian Conley, 28, a video blogger from Philadelphia, and James
Powderly, 31, an artist from New York who had planned to project the
words "Free Tibet" on a building with laser beams. The others are
Jeff Goldin, 40, Michael Liss, 35, and Tom Grant, 39, all from New
York; and Jeffrey Rae, 28, from Philadelphia. Five other Americans
who were detained Tuesday were deported Wednesday. They had raised a
banner near National Stadium with "Free Tibet" spelled out in lights
in English and Chinese.

The organization was founded in New York in 1994 and claims 650
chapters worldwide, at schools in more than 30 nations. Most of its
demonstrations here have involved unfurling "Free Tibet" banners or
displaying Tibetan flags, which are illegal in China.

In the latest action, just after midnight Thursday morning, four
protesters raised their fists and shouted slogans while waving a
Tibetan flag near National Stadium. As with the other protests, the
participants were quickly bundled away by plainclothes officers.

Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, said
that German and British consular officials had told the families of
the German and British detainees that they, too, would probably
receive 10-day sentences.

Two photographers at the scene for The Associated Press were also
roughed up and taken into custody, according to news agency reports
and press freedom advocates. After the photographers were questioned
separately for 30 to 40 minutes, the police confiscated the memory
cards from their cameras.

In the past month, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China has
received dozens of complaints from overseas journalists who were
detained, trailed or had equipment damaged by the police.

"When it comes to media freedom during the Olympics, China is not
even on the awards podium," said Jonathan Watts, the club's president.

On Friday, Students for a Free Tibet declared that its Olympics
campaign had succeeded and that it was winding down. In
characteristically stealthy fashion, the announcement was made by two
members who summoned reporters to a street corner with 20 minutes' notice.

The members, Alice Speller and Ginger Cassady, said that even though
the protests had been fleeting and witnessed by only a few Chinese,
they had helped highlight the issue in the foreign media.

"China is trying to show the world this face, that they are a modern,
progressive country, but that really isn't the truth," said Speller,
a law student from Britain. "The real face is one that denies freedom
of expression, and that denies it brutally and violently when it can."

Soon after the news conference began, police officers arrived and
began videotaping. But with no banners or Tibetan flags on display,
the officers appeared to lose interest and drove away. The women
seemed both relieved and disappointed.

Asked whether the group might be planning any more protests, Speller
shook her head and said, "We're the last two standing," before
heading down the street surrounded by a scrum of cameras. More
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