June 19, 2003

(Clearwisdom.net) Religious freedoms are so often taken for granted here. That is far from the case in many places around the world.

A group of Falun Gong [practitioners] traveling throughout the northern Illinois region pleaded for support in the form of letters to the U.S. State Department, President Bush and congressman to intervene in the case of an imprisoned former University of Illinois student in China.

Leon Lemmons and Emmy Phister, both Falun Gong [practitioners], stopped in Kankakee Wednesday morning to plead for support for Dr. Charles Li. Li was arrested Jan. 22 upon his arrival in China.

The Chinese government charged that Li was intending to tap into the state-run television system to speak out against the then-regime of Jiang Zemin and what the leadership has done to Falun Gong followers. [Jiang] stepped down as president March 15.


In his subsequent trial, Li, a medical doctor who had been living in California, was sentenced to three years in prison. Li had traveled to China to visit his parents, Lemmons said.


"We are peaceful practitioners. All we want to do is meditate, improve ourselves and go about our business. We are not about changing the Chinese government. We just want the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners stopped,'' he said.

Lemmons said this case has not been publicized and without publicity, Li will have little chance of being released.

"Without public support, Charles is going to have to spend three years of very difficult time in prison,'' Lemmons said.

Li was born in China and immigrated to the United States. He later became a U.S. citizen.

"If the State Department walked into the Chinese consulate in Washington, D.C. and showed them many, many letters from U.S. citizens, it would have an impact.''

Similar cases took place in Australia and Canada, Phister said, and those citizens have since been released.