Originally published Friday, February 7, 2003
Falun Gong practitioners, with signs depicting numerous instances of brutality behind them, demonstrate the five exercises used in their meditation practice during a news conference Thursday on the Capitol Campus.
|Steve Bloom/The Olympian|
ALEX SUNDBY THE OLYMPIAN
There was a display of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance between the state House and Senate on Thursday.
Practitioners of a Seattle Falun Gong group performed meditation exercises after having a press conference between the two chambers.
The exercises are meant to express truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.
The group pleaded with legislators to help bring about the release of Charles Li, a resident of Menlo Park, Calif., who has been detained in China since he flew there Jan. 22.
[...] Li has met with a United States consular official, who said Li faces up to 15 years in prison.
The group used Li's recent arrest to demonstrate the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and how it's been trickling into the United States.
It's estimated the number of practitioners in China exceeds the number of people in the Communist Party. China [Jiang's regime], deeming the practice a threat to the government [Jiang's dictatorship], outlawed it in 1999, giving adherents no legal status or protection.
Local practitioners hoped to make legislators aware of their plight.
"The main purpose is just an awareness-builder," said David Jerke, a graduate student at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma who has been doing the exercises for more than three years.
U.S. practitioners have had their telephones tapped, homes fire-bombed and have been physically attacked, Jerke said.
Masooma Haq, a teaching assistant at Madison Middle School in Seattle who practices Falun Gong exercises, told the group of about 15 practitioners that she was abducted when she went to China with her sister last year.
"The danger that Charles Li faces is very, very real," Haq said.
Chinese-American practitioners were beaten while in police custody, she said, adding that police officers took away her glasses and stripped her of all her belongings.