Sweden protests handling of western demonstrators

Friday, November 23, 2001

BEIJING -- Sweden has protested China's handling of several Swedes who were among 35 foreigners, including six Americans, expelled for demonstrating against the government's crushing of the Falun Gong movement.

The protest handed to China's Foreign Ministry complained that the detained Swedes were not permitted to meet quickly enough with Swedish diplomats to meet international regulations, Rigmor Petterson, a consular official for the Swedish Embassy in Beijing said Thursday.

She said the embassy also objected to what it called the harsh physical treatment of those detained, though police used far less violence in removing the foreign protesters than they typically use to arrest Chinese Falun Gong followers.

Martin Larsson, 29, described being manhandled by Chinese police when he refused to let them take his picture because of concerns that it might be used in Chinese propaganda against the movement.

"One guy grabbed my left arm and another my right arm," Larsson said Thursday after returning to Sweden. "One tried to pull my hair but they still couldn't take the picture."

Maria Sahlin, 35, said she saw an Australian woman passed out in the bus and witnessed police pulling other women by the hair.

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