Genghis Khan documentary leads to arrests

2015-07-19 15:47


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Johannesburg - A documentary about ancient Mongolian leader Genghis Khan might have been the reason for the arrests of 10 South African tourists in China, a family spokesperson said on Sunday.

“It is believed the reason they were arrested was because of an unfortunate misunderstanding.  They watched a BBC documentary on Genghis Khan to further their understanding of the region they were in at the time,” a UK-based spokesperson for the family of some of those arrested said in a statement.

“This may have mistakenly been deemed as ‘propaganda’ material.”

Khan created the largest empire in the world following a number of military conquests that led to the founding of the Mongol empire in the 13th century.

The statement was issued on behalf of Hoosain Jacobs, 74, and his wife Tahira, 68. They were part of the group of 20 tourists, 10 of them South Africans, arrested at Ordos Airport on Friday, July 10.

The 20 were on a 47-day tour through China. The group of nine Britons, 10 South Africans, and one Indian citizen, had visited the Genghis Khan Mausoleum in Ordos on July 9.

“They are tired after their ordeal but in good spirits. While the experience was distressing in the first instance, they say they were looked after at all times and treated well,” read the statement.

No charges were ever laid against them.

“It can only be assumed that junior officials who made the initial arrest in Inner Mongolia made a mistake, due to perhaps their unfamiliarity of the English language.”

Five of the South Africans arrested arrived in South Africa on Friday, the rest on Saturday.

Gratitude was expressed to all who helped secure their release including various consulates, the Gift of the Givers, and The Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

“The family would also like to pay special thanks to the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was in China on official business at the time the group was detained.”

“The peace-loving group of people, aged 33 to 74, [who] believe only in love and the unity of the Human Spirit, were on a private sight-seeing tour in China to see the ancient and modern wonders, and learn and experience new cultures.” 

Read more on:    dirco  |  gift of the givers  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  china

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