Deported protesters return to Bay Area

August 11, 2008 7:25:37 PM PDT
A Bay Area protestor detained in Beijing on Friday was deported over the weekend. He arrived at San Francisco International early Monday morning and was greeted by a throng of supporters.

President Bush is back home from the Olympics and so is a San Francisco man, while another from Oakland is on his way. President Bush went to support the games. The others went to protest China's human rights record and both visits could have long-term impacts on Beijing.

They displayed the Tibetan flag as they rode down the escalator at SFO. Unfurling it in China got Steve Anderson and Adam Zenko kicked out of the country.

"I was beaten. They definitely used their fists on us," says Zenko.

The 35-year-old Zenko is from San Francisco. He was among five protestors who raised the Tibetan flag and banners outside Tiannemen Square Sunday afternoon Beijing time.

"Part of the reason we did this was to prevent the Chinese from allowing them to use the Olympics to legitimize their actions in Tibet and try to whitewash their human rights abuses," says Zenko.

A spokesman for San Francisco's Chinese Consulate defends the arrests, saying "like all countries, China asks all foreign visitors to abide Chinese laws and regulations while they are in China. It is quite normal for China to deport those people who violated the laws."

On the demonstrators' tape you can see people seem angered and offended by them. But, China expert and USF professor Pat Hatcher believes the protests could be a byproduct of the Olympics that eventually changes China.

"One of the freedoms many Chinese might soon learn to want to have is the right to associations, to political rallies, to a press that is reflective of what's going on. And these things are thought to be very dangerous by the regime."

President Bush raised the issue just before heading to China, expressing in his words "deep concerns" for Chinas record on human rights. But California Democratic Congressman George Miller believes Bush was not forceful enough

"Neither on Darfur nor on Tibet did the President deliver the kind of message the Chinese government had to take seriously. He mentioned it in passing. He mentioned it rather casually."

The second Bay Area protester is 27-year-old Jonathan Stribling of Oakland. He staged a protest at the Olympic stadium. He's due back with his story on Tuesday. We've been told that the Chinese government used the demonstrators' personal charge cards when they booked them on flights home. For more on this, check out the Back Story.


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