September 15, 2003

Vol. XXV No. 37

Falun Gong practitioners gathered in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court recently to demand the release of a Chinese-American, Charles Li, imprisoned in China.

The protest was part of a cross-country car tour led by Yeong-Ching Foo, Li's fiancée.

"My fiancé is trying to expose human rights violations," the 30-year-old woman told reporters. "His action is very courageous. He is risking his life for the lives of others."

Members gathered signatures and demonstrated their slow, tai-chi-like exercises in support of Li, a Californian who was arrested on January 22 at the airport in Guangzhou, China and charged with sabotaging state-owned media outlets.


The coast-to-coast tour, which began this August in California, ended in Washington, D.C. where the protesters presented petitions for Li's release to the State Department.

Falun Gong, based on truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, is a peaceful and spiritual practice using Qi Gong exercises begun in China in 1992, the Chinese Communist Party made the practice illegal, calling it "anti-Party" and "anti-state".

According to practitioners in New York, thousands of members have been jailed in China, where they are subject to grueling labor and torture. They say hundreds have been killed in jail.

At a previous protest at Borough Hall, Amy Lee, a former Chinese designer, mother and wife in China, spoke of her personal experiences as a practitioner.

"I am one of the tens of millions of practitioners who have been persecuted," said Lee, "Because I uphold my belief, I was detained many times. I was stripped of my clothes and beaten unconscious," she continued.

Like many practitioners, she was confined to a mental hospital, force-fed, compelled to work 15 to 16 hours a day, kidnapped, brainwashed and mentally tortured.

According to Amnesty International, tens of thousands of practitioners have been detained. Hundreds more are tortured in prisons and forced labor camps. Even more are being taken to mental hospitals to be heavily drugged. Close to 500 deaths are confirmed, although inside sources say the more accurate number is about 1,500.

The car tour also made stops at United Nations Plaza and City Hall.

"Dr. Charles Li has sought to bring greater transparency and visibility to a systemic persecution that is killing people every day," Gang Chen, a former Chinese prisoner, told reporters at City Hall. "A Chinese prison is the last place that this heroic American belongs."