University | 4/30/2004

Danielle Wang, a mechanical engineering senior, can never go home for fear of death or imprisonment. After she came from China six years ago, her father was jailed for his membership in the Falun Gong or Falun Dafa movement, banned by the Chinese government in 1999.

Wang was blacklisted and her father was tortured. Now he is forced to work in a labor camp where he folds paper bags for more than 10 hours a day.

"The most sincere thing [I can do is] call for help for him in this country," Wang said.

Local practitioners of Falun Gong rallied on the West Mall on Thursday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the movement's peaceful appeals to the Chinese government for freedom and acceptance. Falun Gong is an ancient form of Chinese meditation and exercises. [...]

Wang said Chinese officials are threatened because people's hearts are drawn to the movement, which boasts 100 million members in China. Wang said the group has members in 60 other countries.


Jason Wang, a practitioner from Houston, said the movement teaches peace.

"Falun Gong teaches people to be good people," Wang said. "Truthfulness, compassion, forbearance. These three words are the key point throughout Falun Gong exercise."

Wang said health care in China is expensive for citizens bound by low income and that alternative healing is often a logical choice.

"Many people don't have the opportunity to get good medical treatment, so many people search for different ways to get medical healing," he said.

Janice Cheung, spokeswoman for the Association For Asian Research, said torture and persecution of practitioners was a regular occurrence in China.

She said the international community had an obligation to assist people who only wanted basic rights of faith and expression.

"I really feel people inside China don't have a voice, and here in America, the place with freedom, we really hope people know the situation," Cheung said.

Daryl Slusher, Austin City Council member, spoke at the event and said one rally would not have an impact on the Chinese government, but many small efforts may add up.


Cheung said she and Amnesty International had documented numerous human rights violations by Chinese officials.

"With my experience in China, [persecution] is real," Cheung said. .For.Release.Of.Chinese.Prisoner-676050.shtml