Australian artist detained in Beijing deported

AP News
Posted: Jun 16, 2014 8:23 PM
Australian artist detained in Beijing deported

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Chinese-born Australian artist detained in Beijing ahead of the politically sensitive 25th anniversary of the deadly military crackdown on protests around Tiananmen Square arrived in Sydney on Tuesday after being deported.

The Chinese government had said Australian citizen Guo Jian, a former protester in China's 1989 pro-democracy movement, had been detained for fraudulently obtaining a visa.

Guo told media awaiting his arrival at Sydney Airport on Tuesday he was happy to be home. But he had little else to say.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed in a statement that Guo had been deported "reportedly due to visa irregularities" two weeks after he was first detained. The department said it could provide no further details due to privacy reasons.

The 52-year-old former soldier was detained by Beijing authorities on June 1 shortly after a profile of him appeared in the Financial Times newspaper detailing his participation in the democracy movement. Chinese authorities permit no public discussion of the crackdown. Guo also may have angered authorities by creating a morbid diorama of Tiananmen Square in a Beijing studio as part of his commemoration of the event.

Australia's government had said it was told Guo would be detained for 15 days and then deported.

Guo's detention was part of a string of prosecutions against artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the Tiananmen anniversary amid intense government efforts to deter coverage by international media of its remembrance.

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Guo was studying art in Beijing when he was swept into the 1989 student protests and witnessed the military crackdown that began on the night of June 3, 1989.

Discussions of the protest and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year. But this year's suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past.