C h i n a N e w s D i g e s t
November 19, 1999
Crackdown on Falungong Protesters During UN Chief's Visit
[CND, 11/18/99] Some 40 Falungong practitioners protesting on Tian'anmen Square were violently dragged away, while the visiting United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being briefed on the ongoing crackdown of the banned group, AFP reported on Wednesday. As soon as the protesters, mostly young people, raised a red banner and started their meditation exercises on the square, about 50 uniformed and plainclothes police pounced on them, hitting, tackling and dragging them into waiting vans. Foreign journalists and several ordinary tourists on the scene were forced to expose their films. Earlier, at least 10 other elderly Falungong members on the square were forced into police vans with little sign of protest or resistance.
Mr. Annan, who last week was "puzzled" by the government's action and urged Beijing to conform with the universal declaration on human rights, said that he had a better understanding of some of the issues after talking with the Foreign Minister TANG Jiaxuan. He was quoted as saying "in dealing with this issue, the fundamental rights of citizens will be respected and some of the actions that they are taking is for the protection of the individual."
Access to the media has been greatly restricted during Mr. Annan's visit. According to the report, Falungong members have vowed to appeal to the UN for an independent investigation of the government's crackdown on the group. (WANG Ouhong, WU Yiyi)