"We tried to put up a banner for Free Tibet and we were pushed out of the way by the Chinese" campaigner Harry Spooner told the Salford Star this afternoon "The police came immediately and said they were there first so we're not allowed to put our banner up. We were told we could go elsewhere but that's not good enough. It's very much like China."
Others weren't so `lucky'. John, who came to protest against human rights violations in China, was handed a dispersal order, banning him from John Dalton Street, Mount Street and Albert Square...
"We had to clear away from over there" he said "One colleague was saying what he ought to be saying but at the wrong time. He got arrested and carted off. It sounds like he was arrested for chanting or being in the wrong place to do the chanting, and refusing to leave – because it would have been `alarming and distressing' for people to hear what he had to say..."
Albert Square wasn't quite Tiananmen Square but it certainly felt like it, with massive Chinese flags erected around the fences, selected mainstream media photographers handed their own podium, and boxes of flags and hats handed out to the hundreds of Chinese people who came to cheer the President, arriving with Cameron and assorted hangers on in blacked out vans.
Meanwhile, anti austerity campaigners, who had come to show British Prime Minister that he wasn't welcome in Manchester again, with his own disability cuts human rights violations hanging over him, were shoved well out of the Square. And the contingent of Free Tibet, Taiwanese and Falun Gong campaigners were pushed into one corner of Albert Square where they erected their own colourful banners and made speeches...
"If Tibetans are caught with a picture of the Dali Lama or holding the Tibetan flag or doing what I'm doing today, they can be imprisoned for 15 years" said one Free Tibet speaker "I have spoken to many Tibetan monks who have been tortured brutally in Tibet for having a simple belief like holding a flag. I stand here today and hold this colourful Tibetan flag for all my brothers and sisters.
Slating China for dumping cheap steel and destroying British workers' jobs, he added "It has to be about peace and compassion it cannot just be about the pound..."
Followers of Falun Gong - `the Chinese tradition of combining slow-moving meditation exercises with the cultivation of virtue and character' – had banners calling for former Chinese Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin, to be brought to justice for the persecution of its practitioners.
In between meditating at the protest, followers handed out leaflets stating that over 190,000 legal complaints against Zemin had been filed, citing "unlawful imprisonment, torture, corruption and abuse of power... 3,858 deaths have been documented, but the actual number is likely to be many times higher..." Campaigners added that, once killed, organs were harvested from the prisoners.
One of the leaflet quotes a European Parliament resolution passed on December 11th 2013... that the European Parliament "expresses its deep concern over the persistent and credible reports of systematic state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs..."
Chinese diplomats could be seen complaining about the protests, but this wasn't Tiananmen Square. Almost. But not quite...
* For further details of the Falon Gong campaign for justice - click here
* See also previous Salford Star article on China and Salford - click here