June 26, 2003

(Clearwisdom.net) Practitioners of the Chinese art of Falun Gong stopped at the Tinley Park Village Hall on Wednesday to speak out about the imprisonment of an American doctor by the communist Chinese government.

Dr. Charles Li, 37, of Menlo Park, Calif., was arrested Jan. 22 when he arrived at the Guangzhou City Baiyun airport in southern China to visit his parents, said Sue Shufen Xu, a Chicago woman who led the delegation visiting Tinley Park.

Li is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a form of meditation and exercises taught privately for thousands of years but made public in China in 1992. It was banned seven years later by China's president, Jiang Zemin, and supporters of the movement claim 100,000 people have been imprisoned since then.

Li's supporters are campaigning for public opposition to his imprisonment, according to Xu and Jason Wang, a Texas graduate student who knew Li from childhood. They urge letters to Congress, with more information at www.faluninfo.net or www.rescuecharles.org

Educated at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Li was sentenced to three years in prison after a one-day trial March 21. He is charged with intending to tap into the state-run TV system. After a brief hunger strike in May, Li was force-fed - a brutal procedure that in Chinese prisons often involves feeding only salt, according to Xu and Wang.

"If all of us stand up, it's a much stronger voice," said Xu, whose delegation traveled to nine Illinois communities since last week, including stops in Joliet and Chicago Heights.