AFP: China deports foreign Falungong protestors

China expelled at least 39 foreign followers of the banned Falungong group arrested during a protest on Tiananmen Square, as embassies sought news of others detained.

Those deported following Thursday's protest included 33 Americans and six Germans, according to US and German embassy officials Friday.

They were among more than 40 Falungong practitioners from North America, Europe and elsewhere who were arrested when they unfurled banners and shouted Falungong slogans in protest at Beijing's suppression of the spiritual group.

The chaotic scenes on the central Beijing square put the spotlight on human rights and religious freedom just a week before US President George W. Bush visits China.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday the president would be "concerned with any arrests for religious purposes in China".

A US embassy spokesman said Chinese officials informed the embassy 33 American citizens were expelled Friday, but provided no flight details.

Falungong's New York-based headquarters said in a statement that about 24 foreign practitioners were placed on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit, citing a phone call it received from a practitioner just before the plane took off at 12:10 pm.

A Germany embassy official said six German Falungong members were expelled
from China on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.

Some of the demonstrators seized had been treated roughly and witnessed others being beaten by police, Falungong quoted expelled protestors as saying.

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



Western diplomats said eight foreign Falungong followers -- four Britons, two Finns and two French -- had been expelled Thursday, just before the protest. [..]

One Western diplomat said 14 people had been rounded up by Chinese police in a sweep of different hotels ahead of Thursday's protest.

Falungong issued a list of 45 foreign practitioners believed to have been detained: 34 from the United States, four from Britain, two from Sweden, two from Poland, and one each from New Zealand, Canada and Brazil.


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