Guangzhou police avert department store rally

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 April, 2005, 12:00am

Guangzhou police took several anti-Japan protesters into custody and persuaded dozens of others to leave a protest site yesterday, saying their actions were illegal.

Several hundred people were outside China Plaza - where Japanese department store Jusco has a branch - waiting for the shopping centre to open when a group of about 20 protesters arrived.

After being told they were not allowed to stand in front of the building, which was barricaded and guarded by more than 100 police officers, the protesters moved to a square beside the centre and attempted to approach it from the side.

As soon as the protesters reached a side road skirting the complex, police surrounded the group and ordered them to disperse.

At least two particularly vocal men were taken away, but police were more patient with two women who argued for a chance to vent their feelings.

'You are not allowed to protest here today. Your protest will serve no purpose. Please leave. If you don't listen to me, I'll have to use other means to deal with you,' one officer told the women.

Other officers half-heartedly asked several protesters to show their identity papers and told the crowd over and over again to disperse or to move along so as to avoid any incidents.

A police van stopped nearby and started broadcasting a recorded message: 'Patriotic comrades, obey the law. The government fully understands your feelings. The government will deal with the issue.'

The area around the shopping complex was secured by several hundred policemen. By noon, the protesters had left the area.