Deseret Morning News

A grass-roots movement is under way to free Charles Lee, an American who is being held in China and who some say is being tortured by forced-feeding and brainwashing.

Lin-Chu Qinn sits in a large replica of a lotus plant - which symbolizes purity - outside City-County Building. Some Falun Gong practitioners hope to bring attention to U.S. citizen Charles Lee, being held in China. Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

Practitioners of Falun Gong came to Salt Lake City last week to drop in on local media and government officials and gain support for their coast-to-coast rescue drive. They say Lee is their friend, and they seek signatures to send to Washington, D.C., in hopes of getting Congress and the Department of State behind them. Information is available on the Web site

Already, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., sent a letter to rescue drive participants encouraging them with her support for human rights.

"Your efforts are certainly important to helping Charles Lee and other individuals in trying situations like his," she wrote. "Falun Gong's fight for justice in China is one among many important fights for basic human rights around the world."

Falun Gong is a practice similar to Tai Chi and focuses on five specific exercises that are meant to clear the mind and strengthen the body. The fifth exercise is meditation, rescue effort organizer Sherry Zhang said.

Zhang, a scientist from California, said Falun Gong was banned in China in 1999 after enjoying seven years of widespread popularity, because Prime Minister Jiang Zemin [Editor's note: Jiang is the former president of China] only wants communism close to the people's hearts.

Zhang and her rescue companions say Chinese secret police arrest and torture people who practice Falun Gong.

Lee was on a mission to expose human rights injustices in China when he was arrested and detained in January.

He planned to air a videotape on government-controlled airwaves but was taken into custody in the Guangzhou airport.


Falun Gong practitioners in the Salt Lake Valley come together each Saturday at Liberty Park from 9 to 11 a.m. It is free to join, taught by volunteers and practiced by millions of people in more than 50 countries. More information is available on the Web at,1249,510049267,00.html