By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
“Jesus Christ is Lord!”
These words, sprawled across a banner being displayed in Tiananmen Square today brought about the detention of three Americans in Beijing.
Michael McMonagle, a national Catholic pro-life activist and founder of Generation Life located in Philadelphia, was praying in Tiananmen Square with Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Washington DC based Christian Defense Coalition and Brandi Swindell of Boise Idaho, National Director of Generation Life when Chinese police confiscated their banner and temporarily detained them.
The group chose the venue of the Olympic Games to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government such as religious persecution of Christians and people of other faiths, forced abortion, the crushing of Tibet and her people, and the denial of fundamental civil liberties.
“For the first 10 or 15 minutes, the uniformed police did very little,” McMonagle said from his hotel room a short time after the incident took place. “They just asked for our passport and nationality. It was great because all of these Chinese children were coming up to us to get their picture taken with us and the banner.”
The police were courteous with the Americans, but any Chinese who stopped to watch were treated roughly, McMonagle said. “They were pushed away and made to move along.”
Not long after their initial encounter with police, the group was approached by “volunteers,” civilians who work for Chinese security. They began accusing the Americans of hurting their pride and “shaming China.”
“But their real purpose was to cover up the banner,” McMonagle said.
McMonagle and his companions proceeded to walk around the Square while a larger security group formed and tried to block them and take the banner. The group knelt on the banner to protect it.
Finally, a police officer came over and led them away. The group followed without resistance and was allowed to sit outside the police station while their passports were being held. They were detained for approximately 30 minutes before being allowed to leave. Security forces followed them back to their hotel and at the time of our interview, were still in the building.
“They’re sitting around the hotel right now because they want to know if any native Chinese are involved with us,” McMonagle said.
McMonagle and his team remain committed to their mission of witnessing for Christ in the heart of the People’s Republic of China and are planning an Aug. 7 news conference in the Square.
Another detainee, Brandi Swindell, said she was glad to risk her freedom to speak out for those who have none. “It is an honor to stand in solidarity with our Chinese brothers and sisters who risk their lives every day for expressing the simple act of worshipping their God,” she told the Christian Newswire. “Today millions of Christians, Tibetan Monks and Falun Gong practitioners sit in prison and face unspeakable brutality because of their religious beliefs. . . .”
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney is also intending to continue their prayerful witness in China. “The truth will always be heard,” he said, “and we hope that President Bush will boldly speak out against these human rights abuses on his official visit to China during the Olympics.”
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