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Blocked from Youth Day

KRAKÓW (AsiaNews): A group of 50 young people headed to Poland for World Youth Day was taken off a plane at Beijing airport on July 25. The aircraft was reported to have been queuing for takeoff at the runway, when it was recalled to the terminal.

The young people said that they were admonished before being sent home with orders not to contact anyone abroad. The incident was reported by a young person already in Poland, who got the information from a priest in China.

The group had gone to the Polish embassy and applied for a visa, which was granted, but they are now being accused of violating the guidelines for travel abroad.

Nevertheless, the presence of Chinese people at World Youth Day from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan was described as considerable, probably around 8,000.

However, one person said of the mainland group, “All those with whom I have just spoken are sad and they are afraid of what will happen when they get back home.”

There are also groups of young Chinese hanging around the venues for the festival waving Chinese flags, but they are actually employees of Chinese cultural institutes in Poland charged with mingling with mainland delegates and obtaining information from them.

Upon questioning, one group said they were from Hebei and explained that it was easy to get Poland. But when questioned, they were vague on Church-speak, even asking what a bishop and a diocese are.

Another group from the mainland said that despite the blocks placed in their way and the violence, they had a dream of bringing World Youth Day back to China.

“The government has done so much to discourage us,” they said, “but they cannot win all the time. The Communist Party is 70-years-old; the Church is 2,000-years-old. We are confident that sooner or later the pope will join young people from around the world from China.”

A group from Guangzhou said they were lucky, because there were no problems.

“But so many of our friends had to stay home even though they wanted to come,” they said.

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