Falun Gong activists deported

BELGRADE -- Serbia's interior minister says the Falun Gong activists who attempted to hold a protest during the visit of China's prime minister have been deported.

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

Nebojsa Stefanovic told the press on Thursday that they were deported yesterday, after being detained because over attempts to organize a gathering despite the fact the authorities banned all rallies.

"A certain number of members of this sect, who are nationals of other countries, despite a warning that there is a prohibition of any gathering in Serbia during the visit of the Chinese premier, expressed their desire to organize a rally, contrary to the law," said Stefanovic.

He added that these persons were bought in to have their identity established, and that a quantity of propaganda material that they carried with them was confiscated.

Dejan Markovic from the Serbian-Chinese Friendship Association - himself a Falun Gong activist - told Radio Free Europe (RFE) that 11 activists who were arrested in Serbia on the eve of the China-CEEC summit have been deported.

According to him, they "did not intend to hold a protest during the summit in Belgrade because Serbia banned the gathering," but nevertheless came to the country "with the intention to visit NGOs and some embassies and to draw attention to the problems of human rights violations in China."

Milan Antonijevic from Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) told RFE that the 11 foreign nationals spent four days detained at Padinska Skela, and that the Bulgarian embassy "demanded an explanation from the Serbian authorities."

"We were approached by the Serbian-Chinese Friendship Association on behalf of the Falun Gong activists," said Antonijevic, adding that the organization sought information from the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice.

Previously, European parliament official Eduard Kukan and Amnesty International expressed their concern and demanded that the Serbian authorities free those detained.