ABC7 Exclusive: China deports activists

LOS ANGELES INT'L AIRPORT, Calif. Three Christian activists protesting in China were dragged from Tiananmen Square, arrested and thrown out of the country. They arrived in Los Angeles Thursday night, and Eyewitness News was there to get their exclusive story.

The three Americans touched down at LAX about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. They were greeted by their supporters. They flew to China earlier this week before the start of the Olympic Games, knowing the world's eyes would be on Beijing, and knowing that would be a perfect opportunity to make their point.

"We have come here today to have a voice for those who have no voice of their own," said Reverend Patrick Mahoney, Christian Defense Coalition.

It wasn't long before the voices of three American Christian advocates were silenced by Chinese authorities.

Reverend Mahoney and two other activists were twice escorted out of Tiananmen Square this week. The group says they were there to pray and to draw attention to the Chinese government's human rights violations.

"Christians who are in jail for simply wanting to express their faith; Falun Gong members who are routinely brutalized and put in prison; political dissidents; Tibetan monks; and of course, standing up against women who just want to have a family and men, of the forced abortion policy of China," said Reverend Mahoney.

This dramatic scene shows plainclothes authorities trying to cover up the protestors using a shield of umbrellas. They forced them out of the landmark square, but not without a struggle.

From there, The Americans were held in a room for questioning, stripped of their travel visas, and then deported back to the United States.

"It was a little rough being pushed out of the square, but it was a little taste of what their own people go through ... when you don't know what they're going to do," said Mike McMonagle, Generation Life.

The group says the timing of their protest was deliberate. They say they were using the Beijing Olympics as a platform to get their message out.

"For me, as an American citizen, it was a simple sacrifice for me to go over there ... because if I were a Chinese woman and I did what I did yesterday in Tiananmen Square, I'd be sitting in a jail cell right now. And I would be sentenced probably to forced labor and a re-education camp," said Brandi Swindell.

The Chinese government has very strict policies on anti-government protests, and they've been tightened even further for the Olympics. The Beijing Olympic Committee, meanwhile, was quick to condemn the protestors' actions.


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