Tibetan protesters arrested in London for waving flags at Chinese President

Police detain 30-year-old Tibetan activist Sonam Choden on 22 October 2015.

Police detain 30-year-old Tibetan activist Sonam Choden on 22 October 2015. Tibetan Community in Britain

By Hannah Al-Othman | Evening Standard

ON THE WEB, 23 October 2015

Two British Tibetan women and a Tiananmen Square survivor have been arrested by the Metropolitan police for staging a protest during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to London.

The women were arrested on Wednesday afternoon close to Mansion House, where Mr Jinping was attending a UK-China business summit.

The activists, named as Sonam Choden, 30, and Jamphel Lhamo, 33, both from London, reportedly attempted to wave Tibetan flags at President Xi’s passing car, before being dragged away by police.

According to an eyewitness, police at first assured the two that they weren’t being arrested, but both were later detained.

Another man, Shao Jiang, a Chinese democracy activist and Tiananmen Square survivor, was also arrested at Mansion House.

Footage shows 47-year-old Mr Jiang standing in the road waving banners before a group of officers dash over and drag him away.

All three campaigners allegedly had their houses raided by police, who seized computers and phones.

Allan Hogarth, from Amnesty International, said: “The video that has emerged looks like a very heavy handed response to a peaceful demonstration.”

He added: “Shao Jiang has witnessed a lot in his life. All he wants is to highlight the human rights abuses that are being committed in China.

“It is deeply worrying that the UK Government appears keen to push human rights to one side in pursuit of trade.

“The UK must ensure human rights are a priority and they must not shirk from raising human rights with those it does business with.”

Tsering Passang, chair of the Tibetan Community in Britain condemned the arrests, accusing Britain of targeting the demonstrators in order to appease China.

He said: “As a British Tibetan, I am shocked that the Met Police would arrest peaceful protesters.

“Tibetans are being silenced both in their homeland and now in the UK. I demand fair treatment for all protesters who are standing up for human rights and democracy.

“The police were extremely over-handed and it shouldn’t have been done that way.

“I was totally shocked at what happened, it was so unnecessary.

“This is Britain and it shouldn’t be like that.

“They were campaigning for human rights and freedom in Tibet and China.

“These people were treated as if they were terrorist activities or something, it’s too much.”

Mr Passang told the Standard the protesters had been released on bail, and said the Tibetan community would be raising questions about the arrests.

He added: “What has just happened is really, really not alright.

“Human rights are being crushed in the UK, never mind in China.

“We’re really really concerned, and need to follow this up with the authorities concerned in the coming days and weeks.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “At around 4.30pm on Wednesday, 21 October, officers on the security operation for the visiting Chinese President arrested a man in the Bank area to prevent a breach of the peace.

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