Police broke up a demonstration by Reporters Without Borders activists releasing red balloons, bearing the pictures of journalists and cyberdissidents imprisoned in China, from the Trocadero human rights square opposite the Eiffel Tower.
The officers seized some of the balloons and after detaining the protesters for half an hour herded them to the nearest underground station.
The international press freedom organisation was trying to draw the attention of the French authorities and the general public to the plight of tens of thousands of political prisoners in China, including 48 Internet-users and 11 journalists.
Reporters Without Borders called on French deputies to boycott a speech given before parliament by the Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is on an official visit to France.
The international press freedom organisation also used the event to pay homage to the journalists and Internet-users jailed in China simply for having expressed their opinions either in the press or on the Internet.
Pictures of six prisoners of opinion were attached to balloons released opposite the Eiffel Tower:
Huang Qi, founder of an Internet site, sentenced to five years in prison.
He Depu, cyberdissident, sentenced to eight years in prison.
Gao Qinrong, journalist, sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Yang Jianli, journalist for an Internet site, detained secretly.
Yang Zili, founder of an Internet site, sentenced to eight years in prison.
Jae-Hyun Seok, South Korean photographer sentenced to two years in prison.
More than 14 years ago, Reporters Without Borders began a "sponsorship" programme calling on the international media to "adopt" a jailed journalist. As a result, 200 news operations and clubs worldwide support a colleague and regularly call on the relevant authorities for their release. They also give regular coverage to their journalist’s plight so that they are not forgotten.
Gao Qinrong is sponsored by: Baden Baden Press Club, Clermont-Ferrand Press Club, Basque Country Press Club, France 2, France bleu pays d’Auvergne, France Info, Fun Radio (Belgium), Journalistes.ch - Newsletter of the Swiss Federation of Journalists, L’Indépendant, Mémoire de trame, Midi Libre, Pressens Tidning, Télé Bruxelles, Voir, VSD, Le semeur hebdo, maison de la presse de Mons, TB.Contamos.
Huang Qi is sponsored by Respublica.fr(Libertysurfgroup),
TF1.fr, Looksmart France, lexpress.fr Belgium: Rtbf en ligne, le Soir en ligne, Coup d’oeil/Journal des enfants.