Finnish Practitioners Tell of Their Illegal Detention in Beijing

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There were two of us Finnish practitioners in Beijing last week. We arrived in the capital of China on Sunday, February 10th.

Our plan was to take part in the peaceful demonstration on Tiananmen Square on Thursday, but it was interrupted on Wednesday 13th when the Beijing police illegally raided all the hostels in the city. Instead of being able to join other westerners at Tiananmen the next day, we witnessed an amazing 100-policemen operation to hunt down people that hadn’t broken any laws. At around 5 o’clock there was a knock on our room door, and then two policemen entered the room. They first wanted to check our passports, then started asking questions, and finally wanted to search through our things. At first, before they found out we were Falun Dafa practitioners, they presented us a note in English saying that the hostel policy is that it cannot accept foreign guests, and they told us that we would be directed to another accommodation at a different place. This was a lie to deceive people that didn’t know how the Chinese government persecutes Falun Dafa. All the hostel guests were checked the same way as we were, and people then had to pack to leave, as the police was going to close the whole hostel. There were more than 20 policemen at the hostel when they carried out the operation.

About one hour later, when the police had nearly finished questioning us, they wanted to hear the cassettes that we had with us, which happened to be Falun Dafa lectures. As a result, they found out that we were practitioners after all, and then the situation quickly took a different turn. Suddenly there were 6 policemen in our room and more at the door. All of our things were completely searched through, and the whole process was filmed by two cameramen and photographed by still another person. The police illegally confiscated from us things that had not been used in anything illegal, a walkman and another tape player, all the cassettes, all our Falun Dafa books and printed articles (in Finnish and English) a minidisc player and all the discs, a camera, three VCDs containing truth clarifying materials, two computer diskettes, a banner, plus all the materials that were used to prepare the banner. Even a box of colour pens was taken away later on. All of these were not returned to us, even though the police said they would be handed back to us when we would board the aeroplane back to Finland.

The whole process took more than 3 hours and after that we were escorted to a room at the bottom floor of the hostel, where we had to wait, guarded by two police and two hotel security personnel, for an hour, after which we were transferred to an airport hotel in a police van.

At the hotel the police wanted to separate us for interrogation, and when we refused, forcefully dragged the other one of us away. The cameramen had been actively filming and photographing us through the whole incident, but this particular incident was not recorded.

After the interrogation we were taken to a bigger room where we were surprised to find five more practitioners along with about 10 more police. There were 4 people from Great Britain, 3 men and one woman, plus one more person from the United States. They had been staying at a different hostel, which had also been illegally raided. Their handling had been rough, and we heard how the British practitioner, Rosemary Katzen, had been carried from the hostel by the police and pulled by her hair into the police van when she had shouted “Falun Dafa Hao” [Falun Dafa is Good] outside the hostel.

During the night there were 5 to 10 police guarding us at all times.

In the morning we were again taken to a bigger room equipped with a large airport x-ray machine and a walk-through metal detector, even though it seemed to be a normal conference room with a small stage and plenty of chairs. The machine was very big, and it had already been there the night before, which suggests the room had been prepared for the purpose earlier. The room was full of policemen, 35 all together when we arrived. There were 4 of us practitioners, so that almost makes 9 policemen for each one of the practitioners. The police then proceeded to search through our things for the third time, and in addition to the walk-trough metal detector, they scanned us with hand-held metal detectors.

After more than an hour of waiting, the police informed us to get ready to leave. When we were heading out, two more practitioners that had had been kept at a different place were brought in. We were taken together with them to the airport in a police van, and got to hear that they were from France and had also been illegally captured at the hostel and detained the day before, along with two other practitioners from Holland. The police dropped us by the side of the aeroplane, and we were escorted inside. Finally, when all the passengers had come in, still two police officers came inside the plane and checked it through quickly before it prepared to leave the terminal.

The day after we arrived in Finland we held a press conference about our trip. Two major TV stations attended, and as a result, the Beijing events were covered by long reports in three different media, featuring a part of the interview of us Finnish practitioners, a part of an interview of another practitioner, footage of the police brutality at Tiananmen Square, plus an interview of a third party, a religion researcher, stating that China is overreacting. One newspaper also attended with a photographer. Another newspaper, the Finnish central news agency, and a Finnish radio station in Sweden were given interviews on the telephone. STT, the central news agency then distributed the news to all media in Finland, and it appeared in the newspapers the following day.


Reported by Finnish practitioners

02-19-2002

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