A pro-Tibet activist group is reporting that an Oklahoman was arrested in China and deported for unfurling a large protest banner at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, according to a release.
According to Students for a Free Tibet, Oklahoma City resident Kelly Osborne, 39, worked with several other activists, two of whom scaled the Chinese state television headquarters and rappelled down the side to secure a huge banner reading “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese.
The report stated that Osborne and four others were detained by Chinese security, and then deported a little over six hours later. Osborne’s wife, Melissa O’Neil, said he and the others and the others are currently en route to the U.S.
O’Neil said her husband and the other protesters were detained and interrogated, but were not mistreated.
“They’ve been really consistent with the protesters so far,” O’Neil said. “They’ve been pretty careful with the protesters who are not from their own country “¦ who aren’t Tibetans.”The group’s Web site describes Osborne as: a youth minister at the Mayflower Congregational Church, a father, a husband and an Oklahoma City native.
The group described Osborne’s actions at the Olympics as a “support” role.
“Whenever you drop any sort of a banner, you have people who are rappelling, and then you have support who are anchors, who protect it from anybody who might try to mess with the anchors or cut the rope,” O’Neil said.
She said she and her husband are longtime social and environmental activists who have remained active in such movements as Greenpeace and Students for a Free Tibet. While she has been worried about her husband’s safety, she said they both understand the risks involved.
“We met doing this sort of thing working for Greenpeace. We’ve called each other from jail,” she said.
Students for a Free Tibet is protesting the Chinese military occupation of Tibet since 1949 and the recent military crackdown there on the eve of the Olympic Games, now underway in China, O’Neil said.
The group’s Web site describes the protest at the Chinese state television headquarters as crucial in addressing the cause for freeing Tibet.
“While the Chinese government has built a gleaming new building for its official mouthpiece and its public relations strategy has become more sophisticated, the propaganda it uses to maintain its iron-fisted control over Tibet remains the same,” said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet.
The other activists deported were: