February 11, 2003

Atlanta resident Xuefei Zhou went to China Nov. 14, 2000. [Editor's note: Xuefei is the wife of an Atlanta resident Sam Lu and she never lived in the U.S.] As she passed out pamphlets about the practice of Falun Gong, she was arrested by government authorities and detained in a Chinese labor camp.

After more than one and a half years of torture and intensive labor, she has become so malnourished that she has nearly lost her eyesight.

Now Emory's Student Government Association and its chapter of Amnesty International have joined with other schools across Atlanta to demand her release. Combining with various Atlanta schools such as Morehouse College, University of Georgia and Georgia State University, the Student Government Association passed a series of resolutions in the fall that were sent to U.S. senators Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

The effort is lead in part by Xuefei's husband, Sam Lu, of Smyrna.

Last year, Lu petitioned SGA President Chris Richardson to promote Xuefei's release from the Chinese labor camp.

"It is important for SGA to put pressure on the government when necessary," said SGA President Chris Richardson. "Helping a fellow Atlanta resident reunite with his wife after such atrocities is simply the right thing to do."

The U.S. government already has begun its own response. In a joint letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, 10 members of Congress from New Jersey condemned Chinese treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

"The Chinese government continues to imprison, torture and murder these peaceful individuals due to their fear and misunderstanding of the Falun Gong movement," the letter read.

According to Xiaoxu Lin, a researcher at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center and a Falun Gong practitioner, about 100 million individuals throughout China, as well as about 10,000 American citizens, practice Falun Gong.

But Lin also said that 560,000 of its participants are persecuted in China.


"Falun Gong teaches one about compassion and tolerance, leading to a more harmonious and spiritually fulfilling life," Lin said. "These are the benefits that increasingly draw people in."

In July 1999, Chinese leader Jiang initiated policies to eradicate all Falun Gong followers. Lin said Jiang established an elaborate spy network throughout the nation and began to use a combination of mental hospitals, prisons and detention centers to torture and kill Falun Gong practitioners.

The [Jiang's regime fabricates lies to slander] Falun Gong [...] and the practice has been banned throughout China -- except for Hong Kong -- [...].

"The Chinese leader is jealous of Falun Gong practitioners," Lin said. "He believes they are a threat to his own power."

Lin is also advocating for the release of U.S. citizen Charles Li, who was arrested shortly after his arrival at China's Guangzhou Airport last month.

Falun Gong supporters intend on building Emory community support by gathering together various speakers and petition drives Feb. 24.

"Student activism on campus is one of the most important aspects of any school," Richardson said. "It is necessary to voice our support for whenever a good cause is in need."