AFP (Agence France-Presse): China deports foreign Falun Gong protestors

Friday, 15-Feb-2002

BEIJING, Feb 15 (AFP) - China on Friday deported at least 24 followers of the banned Falun Gong group detained for protesting in Tiananmen Square the previous day, Falun Gong's New York headquarters said.

In a statement the group said it had received telephone calls from two of the practitioners just before they boarded flights headed for Detroit on Friday.

However foreign embassies in Beijing, including the US and Canadian embassies, said they were still trying to obtain information from Chinese officials about their nationals and could not confirm any expulsions.

China's foreign ministry was also unable to comment.

"I'm on Northwest flight 88 to Detroit. The scene on the square was pretty brutal. Very few practitioners made it to the centre of the square before being taken down," Falun Gong quoted Scott Chinn from New York City as saying.

Another practitioner, Gina Sanchez from Los Angeles, also called before boarding a plane for Detroit, believed to be the same flight, Falun Gong said.

"I witnessed a lot of beating.... Many practitioners were bleeding and they were denied food and water," the statement quoted Sanchez as saying.

Police on Thursday swooped on what the state Xinhua news agency reported as more than 40 Falun Gong followers as they attempted to [appeal] on the central Beijing square.


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