By John Jalsevac
August 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Three American Christians were arrested for a second time in Beijing, China earlier this week.
Rev. Pat Mahoney, Brandi Swindell, and Michael McMonagle were arrested and forcibly dragged away as they knelt in prayer outside the Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum. The group was in Beijing speaking out against China’s forced abortion policies, religious persecution, and other human rights abuses.
After their first arrest the trio called a press conference in Tiananmen Square.
“We have come here today to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government,” said Mahoney, while Chinese security officials attempted to disband the media who had gathered for the conference.
“We have come here today to be a voice to those who are in prison because of their religious beliefs. We are here to peacefully pray.”
Plain clothed policemen were filmed dragging Rev. Mahoney and Ms. Swindell by the arms as other men, presumed to be additional plain clothed officers, attempted to shield the arrest from cameras with large umbrellas.
The three Christian activists were detained and released earlier in the week as they stood in Tiananmen Square with a banner that read in English and Chinese, “Jesus Christ is King.”
The trio told the Associated Press (AP) that while in custody the second time Chinese police had disabled their cell phones, and threatened them with a lengthy prison stay unless they paid the $2000 each for plane tickets back to the States.
“We didn’t do anything wrong. We were speaking up for the Chinese people. We refused to pay,” said Mahoney. Eventually, he related, the police relented and bought the plane tickets.
The three Christians were put on a plane back to the U.S. and arrived in L.A. late Thursday night, carrying nothing but a plastic bag with clothes, the rest of their luggage remaining behind in China. They were greeted by a group of supporters.
Mahoney’s wife, Katie, told the AP that it was disconcerting not to hear from her husband for some 24 hours.
“It was very disconcerting” she said. “Let’s face it, China doesn’t have a very good record on human rights. … It’s very troubling when you don’t hear from someone in 24 hours.”
Katie Mahoney also released a statement, saying, “We pray that this oppressive government will perhaps recognize through this incident that their own citizens deserve to have the basic human rights of free speech, freedom to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, as well as the protection of the weakest members of society—their precious unborn children. That is the message that my husband and the others were simply trying to send. They are not criminals.
“I say, China, the eyes of the world are upon you; if you want the respect and acceptance of other nations at this critical time during the Olympics, afford your own wonderful people the human rights they have been yearning for.”
The three Christians are not the only protestors to have drawn attention to China’s abysmal human rights record in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. News reports reveal that several other incidents have taken place.
Iain Thom, 24, from Scotland, and fellow British activist Lucy Fairbrother, 23 were arrested earlier this week after unfurling a massive Free Tibet banner near Beijing’s Olympic Stadium. Another unidentified man wearing a mask climbed Beijing’s Tsing Ma Bridge early today and unfurled banners asking for “human rights”, “democracy” and “freedom” for the “Chinese people.”
Other protests are expected to take place throughout the duration of the Olympic Games in China.