February 15, 2002

Five Bay Area practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement were due back in San Francisco today after being expelled from China -- and, in some cases, beaten -- for protesting on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, according to relatives and supporters.

The five activists were scheduled to arrive aboard an Asiana Airlines flight into San Francisco International Airport today, said Sherry Zhang, a Bay Area-based Falun Gong supporter.

"They're all together, and the first thing they wanted me to do was to call their families," Zhang said this morning. "Another thing they told me was that they were all beaten by police, some more severe than others."

Chun Lee, 23, of San Jose, the mother of a 10-month-old boy, and Huy Lu, 34, of Daly City, a San Francisco city surveyor, were among those who were "beaten pretty badly," Zhang said, countering assertions by Chinese authorities that detainees had been treated humanely.

Raymond Du, Lu's brother-in-law, said this morning that he wouldn't know about his Lu's condition "until I see him."

Nevertheless, Du said, "of course, I'm very happy. I told my mother-in-law and all my family, and they're very happy."

The three other Bay Area activists who were believed detained are Steve Ispas, 33, of Sunnyvale, who holds weekly Falun Gong study groups at his apartment; Eugen Carai, 45, of Santa Clara, a Cisco Systems engineer, and David Kute, 23, a San Rafael college student.

Ispas called Zhang at 2 this morning and told her that the group had been expelled.

Meanwhile, about 25 other members of Falun Gong arrived in Detroit today, some displaying bruises, cuts and scrapes from what they said were beatings by Chinese police.

"I was trying to say 'Falun Gong is good,' but they kept hitting me over and over again," Mark Gardner of Orange County, who had a black eye, said as he arrived in Detroit on a Northwest Airlines flight from China.

U.S. diplomats said today that the five Bay Area residents were among 33 Americans, four Britons and five Germans expelled by China after a protest yesterday, the fourth and largest protest on Tiananmen Square by foreign followers of the group. The demonstration took place a week before a visit to Beijing by President Bush.


Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, had requested information about the detained Bay Area residents yesterday from the Chinese ambassador in Washington D.C., Yang Jiechi.

Clark Randt, the U.S. ambassador to China, told Lantos in a letter today that U.S. Embassy consular officers have offered to help Chinese officials in determining whether any of the six remaining protesters are American.

Zhang said the five Bay Area practitioners went to Tiananmen Square to lend support to other Falun Gong members.

"The whole reason why they go there is to generate awareness of the persecution happening in China, because Falun Gong practitioners do not have a voice," Zhang said. "We want (the Chinese government) to know that the world is watching and that we will not stop until they stop the persecution."

Lee, a San Jose marketing consultant, wrote last week that she had struggled with her decision to go to China in protest.

"If I remained silent while the very foundations of morality and goodness were under attack, what kind of world would remain to live in?" Lee wrote to supporters. "What kind of world would my son grow up in? Could I just watch while others sacrificed for my rights while I did nothing?"

Ispas' mother, Juliana Ispas, expressed her frustration. "He wants to try to change the bitter persecution by the Chinese government," she said of her son. "They have no right, what they're doing to innocent people."



The Associated Press contributed to this report.