(Clearwisdom.net) To let more people know about Jiang's group's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, especially teenagers and children, a group of young people left Washington DC to embark on a 700-mile bicycle ride to Chicago. After several weeks of intensive preparation, at noon on May 13, 2004, the "Pedals of Peace Bike Ride" held a press conference near the U.S. Capitol. Local residents, Falun Gong practitioners and students from several nearby schools attended the press conference.

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Washington DC Senator Paul Strauss

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Press conference before embarking

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Ms. Terri Marsh, attorney for the lawsuit against Jiang

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High school students Kitty Ellis and Guo Zhitong

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Sisters Guo Zhitong and Guo Zhibei

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The family of team leader Ni Hao

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Falun Gong practitioner Drew Parker sings a song

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The bike ride begins

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The bike ride begins

At 2:20 p.m., the riders left for Chicago under a police escort.

Pedals of Peace Wins Support from All Circles

A total of 10 young people between the ages of 10 and 20 are participating in the bike ride. They are students from the 6th grade through undergraduates in college, including brothers Liang Youming and Liang Youqing, and sisters Guo Zhitong and Guo Zhibei. Their participation has won the support and help of their parents, schools and friends.

Ms. Yang, mother of the Liang brothers, said to a reporter, "Youming is a pre-medical student in Boston and Youqing is a high school student. I support their action. The persecution of Falun Gong in China also persecutes countless teenagers and children, who should be able to live without worry, and get care and education from their parents."

The team leader, Ni Hao, is a 15-year-old sophomore with an outstanding academic record. After listening to his narration of the reasons for the bike ride, the Vice Principal of his school said with emotion, "Many young people today are thinking only about themselves and earning money. Your activity is purely for the sake of others." The school officials said that the school supported Ni Hao's selfless action.

Kitty Ellis, a 15-year-old sophomore, is not a Falun Gong practitioner. She said, "I'd like to do something meaningful for others." Her parents support her decision to join the bike ride and attended the press conference. Her mother said that her family knew about the persecution of Falun Gong from truth-clarification material and that Kitty wanted very much to participate in the bike ride with her classmate Guo Zhitong.

Their selfless action won support from local government and officials. Senator Paul Strauss from Washington DC gave a speech at the press conference. He said that children in China do not have the chance to do these kinds of activities, and that America's young people have those rights and therefore can speak out for their counterparts in China.

Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner sent a letter to encourage and support the young people in their efforts to promote peace and human rights around the world, and he wished them good luck and a smooth trip.

Falun Gong practitioners in Washington, DC and students in the local Minghui School all support the bike ride. Two adult practitioners will travel with them to help watch over the riders.

Voice from the Hearts of the Young People

These young people are participating in the bike ride not for fame and self-interest, but to let more people know about the persecution in China and to raise support from kind-hearted people, and ultimately to help end the inhumane persecution.

Willem Zuur, a 19-year-old professional actor from New York, was participating in the preparation of a new film called "Village." He said that he began taking drugs at age 11 and dropped out of school due to too much drug abuse. Falun Gong has changed his life. He stopped taking drugs on the first day of practicing Falun Gong. He'd like to help those children being persecuted in China and for this reason, he also joined the bike ride.

Team leader Ni Hao said, "Children in China do not have freedom of speech and belief. They are being persecuted but don't have a voice. We need to let the whole world hear their voice and learn about their plight."

Young Falun Gong practitioner Shanshan, a 12-year-old middle school student, narrated many wonderful experiences from his practice of Falun Gong in recent years. He said to a reporter about the reason for his participation, "We Falun Gong practitioners are one body, a big family. Arresting practitioners in China is just like arresting our family members."

Wang Hao is a 19-year-old Yale University student from Boston, studying International Economics. He said, "I always pay attention to the persecution of students in China. Few people know their suffering. Students are not allowed to go to school because of practicing Falun Gong. Many are illegally detained, sentenced to jail and tortured. Schools force students to speak lies, slander Falun Gong in exam questions and force students to sign petitions against Falun Gong. Many students wept at home after signing, as they did not want to sign but would be dismissed from school if they didn't. Recently, I saw news from a Hong Kong Human Rights Organization, reporting that 300 people have been dismissed from Qinghua University for practicing Falun Gong. After seeing this, I decided to participate in the bike ride."

The state-controlled media propaganda that continuously slanders and discredits Falun Gong has affected countless young people. It was reported that China recently initiated an anti-Falun Gong movement in schools throughout the country, to infuse hatred in students and to harm their minds.

There Are More Than 360 Million Minors Being Persecuted in China

Currently in China, over 360 million young people under age 18 are being persecuted in various forms by Jiang and his followers. Among the minors, some are persecuted for practicing Falun Gong themselves, some are implicated because their parents practice Falun Gong, and many have become orphans due to the persecution. Many more teenagers and children are ordered to slander, curse and express hated towards Falun Gong in class and on written exams.

The Young People Support the Lawsuit Against Jiang

The route of the bike ride is 700 miles in total and will pass through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. According to the plan, they will arrive in Chicago on May 21. Coordinator Keith Ware said, "Jiang is being sued in Chicago for torture, genocide and crimes against humanity. The plaintiff attorney's statement is to be given on May 27. We are going to Chicago to support the lawsuit and to bring Jiang to justice."

The plaintiff's attorney for the lawsuit, Ms. Terri Marsh, attended the press conference. She said that the lawsuit was about the persecution of adults in China but that minors in China were also persecuted. In the press conference, she indicated that she was preparing a new criminal lawsuit against Jiang.

It was reported that besides the bike ride, there are separate car rides traveling to Chicago from New York and California. For updated information about the Pedals of Peace, please visit http://www.pedalsofpeace.org.