On August 28, the "Cross Country Van Trip to Rescue Charles Li" arrived at UIUC, where Charles spent nearly four years for his graduate studies. Charles' fiancée Ms. Yeong-ching Foo took a special trip here from California to clarify the facts to students, faculty and staff at the University of Illinois.
At 10 am, Miss Foo and several other practitioners met with Dr. Kellog, the Vice President of UIUC, who is in charge of international affairs. Dr. Kellog carefully listened to Yeong-ching's introduction about Charles' plight, the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and the most recent news regarding the lawsuits against Jiang Zemin filed in different countries charging him with genocide. Other practitioners also talked about the persecution facts from different aspects. Dr. Kellog expressed his deep concern over Charles's plight. When he heard that the mother of a practitioner, who drove from Texas was locked in a psychiatric hospital for not giving up her belief in Truth-Compassion-Tolerance, he said that was intolerable. Miss Yeong-Ching Foo also visited Charles' thesis instructor in UIUC, who highly praised Charles for his courage. He also said that Charles was a very diligent student when he studied in UIUC, and that he would write to President Bush and the State Department to call for the rescue of Charles.
August 28 was the second day of the new semester in UIUC. A constant stream of students flowed through the plaza outside the student centre. Around 12:30 pm, the UIUC Falun Dafa club held a press conference to welcome the "Cross Country Van Trip to Rescue Charles Li".
U. S. Congressman Tim Johnson and Urbana City Council member Esther Patt wrote supportive letters for the press conference. Ms. Patt expressed her concern over UIUC alumnus Charles Li and requested the U.S. government to ensure hid safety. She said in her letter that Charles encountered the persecution because he opposed the Chinese authorities' human rights violations. She said that freedom of belief and freedom of religion are the most important and precious rights. She felt sorrow for people in China who endure the persecution because of their beliefs, and supported the effort of Falun Gong practitioners in the city of Urbana and in the U.S. in rescuing Charles Li. She said that their dedication and determination were admirable.
Kate Stepanski, the president of the "Student Peace Action" organisation, also delivered a speech at the conference. She said, "As an organisation for peace and for all people to obtain just treatment, we are surprised to learn the Chinese government inhumanly treats Falun Gong practitioners, who have absolutely no reason to be persecuted. UIUC alumnus Charles Li is unreasonably imprisoned. Falun Gong practitioners have the right to practise their belief. I call for the U.S. government to ensure Charles Li's freedom."
After the press conference, a student was deeply touched by Charles Li's story. She took the initiative to spend the hour before her class to help us collect petition signatures. Another student wanted to join the "Student Peace Action" organisation and continue to help rescue Charles. A German woman who just came from Germany to visit UIUC expressed that she would provide some help from the perspective of Amnesty International. She said that she would carefully study the materials that practitioners gave to her. A Chinese scholar had his misunderstandings about Dafa resolved after a practitioner patiently explained the facts to him.
A News Conference Is Held in Chicago, Illinois State Government Officials Call for the Release of Charles Li
The van trip team stayed at UIUC for one day and arrived at Chicago on Friday August 29.
Early on the morning of August 29, Charles Li's fiancée Miss Foo, a practitioner from California, a practitioner from Texas and Chicago practitioners visited the offices of Illinois' U.S. Senators in Chicago. They also visited the Mayor and other government officials. Practitioners told them about the persecution that Charles Li is currently enduring as well as the brutal tortures that Falun Gong practitioners have been encountering over the past four years.
At noon, the van trip team, together with a few dozen local practitioners, conducted a news conference at the Federal Plaza near downtown Chicago. Miss Foo talked about how Charles Li was arrested and persecuted, as well as updating everyone with news about Charles's current situation. Charles's friends in Illinois and the van trip participants delivered speeches. The Administrator of the 16th district of Cook County, Mr. Anthony J. Peraica, also came to join the conference and gave a speech. He condemned the persecution of Falun Gong and expressed his support. He also called for the immediate release of Charles Li. The Chicago Tribune, WBEZ FM radio station, New Tang Dynasty TV, Epoch Times and World Journal sent reporters to cover the event.
Recently, many government officials of Illinois from different levels got to know the facts about the persecution Charles is currently suffering. They paid great attention to this issue. One after another, they wrote letters to call for the immediate rescue of Mr. Charles Li.
Schaumburg, located west of Chicago, is the headquarters of both Motorola and United Airlines. The Mayor of the City of Schaumburg, Mr. Al Larson, wrote a letter to President Bush to express his concern over Charles's arrest and imprisonment by the Chinese government. He said that this indicated that U.S. citizens were no longer safe to visit China. He expressed his strong wish that President Bush would use his power to have the Chinese government release Charles and allow him to return home.
On July 15, the Administrator of the 37th district of Chicago, Emma Mitts, wrote to Illinois' U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, saying, "(Charles Li) is currently imprisoned in China's Nanjing Prison, because China claimed that Mr. Li 'planned' to broadcast through interception video programmes about the persecution of Falun Gong. However, when Mr. Li was arrested, he did not tap into the TV network and he did not commit the crimes that he was accused of. Enclosed please also find some related materials. I really appreciate your help...... I pray that we can work together to solve this problem and to get Mr. Li released."
On July 17, Carrie Austin, the Administrator of the 34th district of Chicago, wrote to U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, "Mr. Li pointed out in his defence, in the face of the fact that millions of Chinese people are enduring the vicious persecution by their own government, it is a righteous behaviour to utilise a peaceful way to let people know about the truth. In our country, we have the similar experiences. We also honor those who risk their lives to uphold justice. I will not be surprised if in the future, people will praise Mr. Li for his courage and his self-sacrificing spirit....."
Falun Gong practitioners actively clarified the facts. Consequently, one after another, major and smaller local newspapers in cities and towns in Illinois published articles to expose the persecution of Charles Li and other Falun Gong practitioners in China. They called on the public to pay attention to this and take action.
The Jiang regime want to use deception, rumour-mongering and an information blockade to cover up its brutal persecution of Falun Gong. However, the real situation over the past four years demonstrates that things have been going contrary to their wishes. More and more people in the world are learning the truth. We believe that everyone around the world will see clearly the vile nature of the persecution of Falun Gong. Justice and truth will bring people a bright future.
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