Nearly 30 members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement spoke out Thursday at a news conference that had been organized in secrecy, denouncing torture and persecution at the hands of Chinese police and vowing continued defiance.
One member displayed wrists bruised by manacles; another told how police burned her face with an electric baton; a boy, 11, said he was expelled from school for his beliefs.
China's Communist Party, meanwhile, vowed to show no mercy to what it called "the devil cult." Chinese police dragged six middle-aged female Falun Gong demonstrators out of Beijing's Tiananmen Square by their hair today as the movement staged low-key protests for a fifth day.
Police detained at least 20 Falun Gong members Thursday at the square. Police in Beijing this week have detained 3,000 adherents from every part of China except Tibet, a Communist Party source said.
Seven foreign reporters contacted by e-mail about the secretive news conference first met at a Beijing restaurant. They were then escorted by members to a suburban hotel for the conference.
Falun Gong blends exercises with Buddhist and Taoist concepts said to promote health and morality.