August 13, 2008

Kyodo: At Least Eight Detained in Pro-Tibet Protest Near Olympic Village in China

Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo

Beijing, Aug. 13 Kyodo - Eight pro-Tibetan independence protesters, including a Japanese citizen, were detained by police Wednesday after staging a demonstration near the Olympic village in Beijing.

Five Americans - three men and two women - chanted pro-Tibet slogans at the gate to an ethnic-minority theme park not far from the main Olympic Stadium at just after noon before they were led away by police.

Two other Americans were detained nearby after they were caught carrying Tibetan flags as they made their way to the protest.

Pema Yoko, 25 - a member of the US-based group Students for a Free Tibet which organized the demonstration - was detained after watching the protest and speaking to reporters.

The woman, who Students for a Free Tibet say is a Japanese citizen with a Japanese mother and Tibetan father, told Kyodo News before she was detained, "Chinese people have the right to be proud to be Chinese. Why can't Tibetan people have the right to be Tibetan? It is our country. It was invaded by China."

"The Chinese people deserve to hear the truth about what is happening in Tibet. The Tibetan people are undergoing psychological torture," she said.

John Rae, a British TV journalist from the British news company ITN, was also briefly detained by police as security guards jostled and pushed photographers and cameramen as they tried to film the demonstration.

Rae said he was manhandled and shoved by police before he was released.

"I tried to explain that I was a reporter doing my job, but they wouldn't listen," he said. "They dragged me to the ground, and dragged me away. They kicked me to the floor in a nearby building and tried to confiscate my equipment."

Wednesday's protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations held by Students for a Free Tibet in Beijing over the past week.

Five activists staged a protest in Tiananmen Square last Saturday, with four of them draping themselves in the Tibetan flag before they were led away by security officials. They have since been deported.

Three activists from the US-based group were detained last Friday near the National Stadium waving Tibetans flags, about an hour before the Games' opening ceremony.

Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 0709 13 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.