"I'm merely trying to help people who have no voice and are in desperate need of justice."

Sierra City Family Worried, but Supportive and Proud

Taken just before his trip to Beijing, Andrew Ellsmore displays the banner he unfurled on the Square yesterday afternoon. He was taken away by Chinese police, and his whereabouts are currently unknown. The banner reads, "Falun Dafa [Falun Gong] is good."

LOS ANGELES, April 15, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) - According to the Associated Press, Andrew Ellsmore, 21, was taken into custody in Beijing after peacefully appealing for Falun Dafa [Falun Gong] at Tiananmen Square earlier yesterday. At the square Andrew unfurled a yellow banner and called out its contents in Chinese: "Falun Dafa is good!"

At present Andrew's whereabouts and condition remain unknown.

Andrew's mother, Cindy, said that his family knew of his plan and although they are worried they know that Falun Dafa is good, they support his standing up for justice, and they are proud of him. She has also been in contact with the U.S. Embassy, which is trying to obtain information about Andrew from the Beijing police. The police have yet to provide them with any information.

In a statement written before his trip Andrew, a Geology Junior who grew up in Sierra City, said: "I will go to Tiananmen Square to appeal for the Chinese people, as they deserve to know the truth and breadth of the systematic attack against a kindhearted group of citizens."

AP reports that: "Military police who patrol the square quickly swooped in and seized Ellsmore's banner, then blocked his way as he tried to walk off [the Square]. The entire incident lasted less than a minute." (AP 4.14.2002).

An AP photographer was also taken into custody at the scene.

Since the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by Jiang Zemin's regime began in 1999, Tiananmen Square has largely been the only public channel through which the Chinese people can voice their appeal to their government and make their plight known to their fellow citizens as well as the world at large. Both international media and tourists have reported that the peaceful appealers have often been met with unrestrained police brutality, including usage of electric batons. There have been numerous reports of individuals who were beaten to death shortly after appealing in the Square, and one who died from injuries sustained on the Square itself.

With human rights organizations' reports depicting an escalation in the persecution, appeals by Westerners, too, have become common in recent months. Many of the Westerners have returned home with injuries sustained as a result of being beaten by Beijing police, yet the Chinese authorities claim they were all treated "humanely."

In February a U.S. Civil Law Suit was filed against the Mayor of Beijing for these, as well as other accounts of torture.

In his statement Andy said: "By doing this I'm not breaking any laws or trying to cause trouble I'm merely trying to help people who have no voice and are in desperate need of justice. If we as a world society do not stand for justice, human rights and peace, what then do we stand for?"

For the latest details, please contact: Mark Zuo 510-501-4835 or Leeshai Lemish 909-717-3876.


Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance." It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Dafa has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices in China, such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.

With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Dafa, China's President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Dafa, Jiang's regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.

The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of over 397 deaths since the persecution of Falun Dafa in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Mark Zuo 510-501-4835 or Leeshai Lemish 909-717-3876. Email: faluninfoctr@nycmail.com, Website: http://www.faluninfo.net/