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Chinese Police Return 24 Africans to Campus

Times Staff Writer

Police returned 24 angry and frightened African students from the Nanjing Polytechnical University to their campus Tuesday, but about 50 Africans from another school remained incommunicado at an isolated guest house after a Christmas weekend racial clash, according to student and official sources.

Several students have accused Chinese police of torturing them with electric batons in a confrontation at the guest house Saturday. Chinese Foreign Ministry officials had no comment on the allegations of torture, but officials in Nanjing denied the charges.

In Beijing, in a separate outbreak of African-Chinese tension, about 100 to 200 Chinese students demonstrated on campus at the Beijing Language Institute. Students said they were protesting a New Year’s Eve incident in which an African student allegedly chased a Chinese student, causing her to fall and hurt herself.

“Punish the Hooligans, Uphold Honor, Protect Women’s Rights and Interests!” read a banner carried by protesters.

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African students who returned to Nanjing Polytechnical University on Tuesday said they had been refusing to leave a hotel where they were taken by Chinese police Saturday night. They were hoping, they said, that this refusal would help bring about a second meeting with African diplomats to discuss the Christmas weekend clash at Hehai University and subsequent anti-African disturbances.

The Christmas weekend clash began after an argument broke out between guards at Hehai and African students trying to take Chinese women onto the campus for a holiday dance. The incident helped spark days of demonstrations against the African students.

University authorities also have accused the African students of tearing down a wall that one official said was designed to restrict access to the foreign student dormitory.

The students met with African diplomats on Dec. 27, after about 140 of them were bused to the isolated guest house outside Nanjing to avoid an anti-African demonstration. After that meeting, the group--primarily Africans--had expected to remain until diplomats came for a second visit, several of the Africans said Tuesday. All spoke on condition of anonymity.

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On Saturday, however, police forcibly removed from the guest house all but about 50 African students from Hehai University, according to other students. It appears that all students except those 50 have been returned to their campuses, students said Tuesday.

While some of the returned students were partying to loud music Tuesday night, the overall mood was one of resentment, fear and discouragement.

“It’s dangerous outside,” one student said.

“I didn’t choose to come to China,” said another. “My country chose to send me here. But my life belongs to myself, not my country. If this kind of situation keeps going and doesn’t settle down, I’d have to go home, even though I will have wasted four years. I think this was all a waste, because I won’t have a diploma. How can I get a job?”

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The students also named six students who had been led off by police early in Saturday’s confrontation. They charged that three of them--including the president of the Nanjing chapter of the General Union of African Students in China--were detained because they had acted as leaders of the students confined in the guest house.

Two others--including one who was injured--had been involved in the Christmas Eve clash, and one had struggled especially hard against police during the Saturday confrontation, they said. In that confrontation, several students allege, Chinese police forced a number of African students outside the guest house during lunch, then stripped them and attacked them with electric batons.

The official New China News Agency has reported the arrest of Alex Dosoo of Ghana for allegedly assaulting and seriously injuring a Hehai University gatekeeper in the initial clash.

Dosoo’s friends, however, charged that he did nothing wrong and was being made a scapegoat for an incident they said was initiated by the Chinese. They said he had a visible injury above one eye, suffered in the Christmas Eve clash.

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