British man protests China's record in Hong Kong

Aug. 08, 2008, 3:31 a.m. (ET)

HONG KONG (AP) A British man was arrested after unfurling banners on a major Hong Kong bridge that denounced China's human rights record ahead of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony Friday.

Other protesters critical of China's human rights record were expected to demonstrate later in the day near the venue of the Olympic equestrian event in Hong Kong.

Matt Pearce, a longtime Hong Kong resident from Bristol, England, hung two banners on road signs on Hong Kong's Tsing Ma Bridge that said, "We want human rights and democracy" and "The people of China want freedom from oppression."

Officials shut down traffic on the bridge's upper deck where Pearce was protesting.

TV footage showed Pearce wearing a mask of a horse's head and a white shirt bearing the Olympic rings while carrying a guitar. His protest ended after about an hour when men in plainclothes hustled him away.

Hong Kong police said in a statement that officers arrested Pearce for causing a public nuisance and that he is being detained for questioning.

A Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator, Emily Lau, and a Hong Kong group critical of China's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989 were expected to protest later near the Olympic equestrian venue.

Olympic organizers moved the equestrian event from Beijing to the former British colony of Hong Kong because of a rash of equine diseases and substandard quarantine procedures on the mainland. Hong Kong has a prominent horse racing scene.