(Clearwisdom.net) ST PAUL -- The cold rain did not bother several members of the Twin Cities Falun Dafa, who all demonstrated peacefully at the St Capital on the evening of March 20, along with similar protests worldwide. The vigil took place at the same time a Chinese court sentenced Dr. Charles Li, 38, a U.S. citizen, to three years in prison for allegedly sabotaging television broadcasts.

According to Reuters news service, the Chinese government is considering expelling Li rather than have him serve the sentence, partly because of the worldwide protests, and several letters of protest from American legislators, including Senator Mark Dayton, and Congressman Jim Ramstad.

On January 22, Li, a physician from Menlo Park, Calif., flew to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year with his parents, and to break the good news of his recent engagement. Chinese police, arrested him at the airport and sent 1,000 miles to an "infamous" detention center.

Supporters claim that Li, and other Falun Gong practitioners, cannot get a fair trial, and that recent government practices of delaying official charges and extending detention, are to avoid outside criticism of human rights violations. After nearly two months in detention, Li defended himself in what was called "a show trial" by his supporters.

One of the Twin Cities Falun Dafa practitioners, Cheng Wan, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota School of Electrical Engineering, was also remembering his mother, Jingjiang Chen, currently in Wuhan Prison in Hubei Province of China. She was accused of being a Falun Gong leader, and for disseminating anti-government propaganda. According to Wan, she was practicing the mind and body meditation exercises because they had a positive impact on her chronic health problems.

Wan has been on a crusade for nearly three years to free his mother, whose sentence is nearing its end, however, he said Falun Dafa often receive trumped up charges to extend sentences indefinitely. Because of his efforts, Wan was recently granted asylum in the U.S.

"I can't go back," said Wan. "In many cases, other practitioners go back to be with their families, get arrested, charged, and detained."

Wan will work to free his mother from here, and when that happens, will try to bring both his parents to the U.S. as soon as possible.

Without any fees or costs to participate or to purchase materials, Falun Gong became extremely popular in China, and then around the world, where it is now practiced by over more than 100 million people in 40 countries. According the Falun Dafa, the 70 million Chinese practitioners take the risk of government persecution, and feel that it is outlawed only because of the size of its membership (more than the communist party), and that it has no political objectives.

Falun Gong was founded in 1992. Based on traditional Chinese spirituality, it also encompasses exercise and meditation. Its principles are based on Truth, Compassion and Tolerance. Local members say that it is not a religion, and that people who practice regularly have found better health, reduced stress, inner peace, and deepened morals.

The local Falun Gong practitioners meet twice weekly. Once in Room 110, St. Paul Student Center of UMN, 2017 Buford Ave, St. Paul, on Friday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m., and again on Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m., in Room 100, Pathways, 3115 Hennepin Ave. S. Minneapolis.

For more information on local Falun Gong activities, and for an online introduction to the practice, visit www.tc.umn.edu/~falun/ or call the Falun Dafa info line at (612) 724-7973.