By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, August 20: Brian Conley, creator of the well-known videoblog Alive in Baghdad
, and four other activists have been detained by Chinese police since early Tuesday morning, apparently for their active role as an independent media centre for the dozens of pro-Tibet activists in Beijing, according to a pro-Tibet group.
Photo of the pro-Tibet protest at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park in Beijing on August 13 released by Rae and Conley - Click Here
to watch their video of the protest
The five "citizen journalists" and activists were in Beijing to support and promote human rights, freedom of expression, and freedom for the Tibetan people, the New York based Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) said Tuesday in a statement
They and numerous others have acted as an independent media centre for the dozens of pro-Tibet activists in Beijing who have sought to draw attention to the Chinese government's occupation of Tibet during the Olympics, the group added.
Conley was detained with his friend, Jeffrey Rae, early Tuesday, in Beijing, SFT said in its statement.
The group said online high-resolution photographs and footage of the recent protest by pro-Tibet activists at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park were shot and released by Rae and Conley.
James Powderly was arrested early Tuesday morning for his plan to use laser beams to project a message that said `Free Tibet,' and some other messages on buildings in different locations in Beijing
The group said their detention appeared to have taken place at the same time as that of an internationally known artist James Powderly
, whose was also reportedly detained early Tuesday morning. Powderly, an American graffiti artist and co-founder of Graffiti Research Lab, planned to use laser beams to project a message that said `Free Tibet,' and some other messages that would have been three-stories high in different locations in Beijing.
According to a hotel staff, Rae and Conley checked out of their hotel in Beijing before dawn Tuesday morning. At 12:30pm Beijing time on Tuesday, Conley's wife in Philadelphia received a text message from him reading "In Jail. All fine", SFT noted in its statement.
A "twitter" message to Students for a Free Tibet suggested that they were being held with James Powderly, the group said.
Three other bloggers and activists, Jeff Goldin, Michael Liss, and Tom Grant, have also been missing since Tuesday morning, the pro-Tibet group added with no further information.
Conley, 28, Rae, 28, Goldin, 40, Liss, 35, Grant, 39 are all American citizens, SFT said.
Chinese police also detained five more American activists late Tuesday after they unfurled a "free Tibet" banner near Beijing National ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium in Beijing, bringing the total number of activists detained, including Powderly, to eleven on Tuesday alone.
The five protesters were taken away by security shortly before midnight for displaying the banner, which outlined "free Tibet" in English and Chinese in bright blue LED “throwie” lights in Beijing’s Olympic Park, said in an another statement.
The group said its activist members had staged seven protests in Beijing over the last two weeks and, thirty-seven members and supporters involved in these protests have been detained and deported so far, not including those detained Tuesday.
The pro-Tibet group claims these protests have placed the issue of Tibet’s occupation front and centre as China hosts the Olympic Games.
These protests included a dramatic banner hang near the Bird's Nest Stadium, a display of Tibetan flags near the Bird's Nest just before the opening ceremony began, a symbolic die-in at Tiananmen Square, a protest by a Tibetan woman with flags outside Tiananmen Square, a blockade of the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, and "Free Tibet" banner hang outside the CCTV headquarters.
“The Chinese leadership must realize that the only way it can make the issue of Tibet disappear is to acknowledge the demands of the Tibetan people and work with them to bring an end to China’s occupation of Tibet,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of SFT in a statement released today.