Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the conservative Washington DC- based Christian Defense Coalition; Brandi Swindell, who leads the pro-life ‘Generation Life’ youth movement, and Michael McMonagle, a national Catholic pro-life activist and founder of Generation Life were believed to be on China Air flight 983 and were expected to arrive in Los Angeles at 6 PM local time. US officials had no comment.
The three leaders were earlier forcible dragged away as they knelt in prayer outside the Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum in Beijing as part of their protest, Television footage showed. Earlier Wednesday, August 6, they were detained about one hour after standing in Tiananmen Square with a banner that read in English and Chinese, "Jesus Christ is King," before being released.
"Today we stand as a bold and prophetic witness against the tyranny and brutality by the Chinese government against their own people," Mahoney said Wednesday, August 6. "As the Summer Olympics are being celebrated, millions of Christians and those with other faith traditions are routinely oppressed, tortured and jailed by Chinese officials. It is a privilege and honor to be able to stand with those who are persecuted. "
He stressed that, "China also promotes the barbaric practice of forced abortion and sterilization, while those who speak out against human rights abuses by the Chinese government are crushed and trampled. And, the peaceful citizens of Tibet have been brutalized by Chinese leaders." Not everyone agrees, with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that politics should be left out of the Olympic Games.
However Mahoney has defended his protests, saying, "Today we follow the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 25 and stand in solidarity with our oppressed Chinese brothers and sisters." He said that their, "public witness is a visible reminder that 100,000 military troops and abusive security measures cannot silence the voice of freedom, justice and the power of the Gospel of Christ." The truth, he said, "will always be heard and we hope that (US) President (George W.) Bush will boldly speak out against these human rights abuses on his official visit to China during the Olympics."
Mahoney attempted to have a similar message Thursday, August 7, but his wife admitted that support staff in the United States were unable to reach him and his fellow Christians since the second arrests. Katie Mahoney from the US State of Virginia said in a statement that, "Since their 11 AM (Beijing time) arrests on August 7 we have been unable to contact any of the group, including my husband, or support persons for over 14 hours now."
She said later that the US State Department told her it "appears" that China has deported them on a flight to Los Angeles. "This is a bit disconcerting that no one can reach them. We assume their phones have been confiscated and all are being held until their scheduled departure from Beijing at 3 PM local time, August 8," Mahoney added.
She said that she had been praying "for their safety" but also "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."