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Beijing Under Fire for Detaining Pro-Tibet Activists

Beijing police have ordered 10 pro-Tibet activists from Germany, Britain and the US to 10 days detention. The harsh penalty has drawn hefty criticism, particularly from Washington.

Foreign pro-Tibet activists are detained by Chinese police and security guards after they staged a protest near the main Olympics venue in Beijing Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008

Some 45 pro-Tibet activists have been arrested this month; most have been deported

Florian Norbu Gyanatshang, a 30-year-old Tibetan-German from Stuttgart, was among those being held in Beijing. Head of the German chapter of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe, the software developer was arrested on Thursday, Aug. 21, for unfurling a Tibetan flag near the Olympic stadium in the Chinese capital.

"As a German citizen, I cannot remain silent at the blatant human rights violations that are occurring in Tibet," he said in a statement published in Germany after his arrest. "And as a Tibetan, I would like to stand by my fellow countrymen in this difficult situation."

Two Americans and one Briton were arrested with Gyanatshang for disturbing the "public order." Chinese police said on Friday that they had detained another six US activists for 10 days.

Ten-day detention is the harshest treatment so far of Tibet activists since a series of demonstrations in the capital during the Olympics. Chinese law allows police to force people to undergo administrative detention without trial. Dozens of other protesters have been deported shortly after their arrest during the Games.

US urges human rights standards

The six Americans most recently detained were believed to be from the US-based group Students for a Free Tibet, which had held eight pro-Tibet protests in Beijing since Aug. 6.

"These people of conscience from many walks of life were here to make sure the Tibetan issue was at the forefront during these Olympics Games," Kate Woznow, the group's campaign director, told DPA news agency.

A spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Beijing told DPA that the embassy was aware of the detainments, but she could not provide details due to privacy concerns.

"We encourage the government of China to demonstrate respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion of all people during the Olympic Games and beyond," said spokeswoman Susan Stevenson.

"These rights are protected by China's own constitution and international human rights standards to which China has agreed."

When asked about the detentions and other human rights issues, Chinese Olympic Organizing Committee Vice-President Wang Wie said Western media were showing a bias against China and lack of knowledge about the country at a press conference on Friday.

"History will show that awarding the Games to China was the correct decision," he told reporters, adding that they should "write the truth."

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