Tibet Protesters Dragged Away

ReutersProtesters wearing T-shirts with "Free Tibet" slogans standing with their bicycles chained to a gate on Wednesday.
BEIJING -- Chinese security forces dragged away five U.S. pro-free Tibet protesters who blocked the entrance to a northern Beijing park on Wednesday, breaking up the latest demonstration on the sidelines of the 2008 Olympics.

A British television journalist covering the protest said he had also been briefly detained and that at one point he was pinned to the ground by four or five police officers.

About half a dozen guards took hold of three men and women protesters yelling "Free Tibet!" and led them away from the wooden entrance to the Ethnic Culture Park, not far from the main Olympics sporting complex.

It was not known where the guards took the protesters, who wore T-shirts bearing the same slogan and had chained bicycles to the gate of the park.

Students for a Free Tibet said in a statement that there were eight protesters in total, mostly U.S. citizens.

"While Tibetan song and dance is on display in Beijing, in Tibet, our culture is under siege and our people are being forcibly kept from speaking out about their repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities," said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet.

John Ray, a reporter with British Independent Television News, accredited to cover the Beijing Games, said he had been pushed and dragged into a police van where he was briefly detained.

The International Olympic Committee said it would investigate the incident.

"The IOC has learned through media reports that a British journalist was allegedly assaulted today while covering a demonstration near an Olympic venue in Beijing," it said in a statement.

"The IOC's position is clear: The media must be free to report on the Olympic Games."

Despite security officers fanning out across the city, 300,000 surveillance cameras and tightened visa controls, a number of Tibet groups have held small-scale protests since the start of the games.