On November 13th, 2004, Falun Gong practitioners from Northern California and members of Amnesty International held a rally at Union Square in San Francisco to urge the Chinese government to immediately release American citizen Charles Lee and other Falun Gong practitioners' family members who are being persecuted in China. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee sent a representative to attend the rally.
|Demanding the release of Charles Lee||Photos expressing voices from the heart||Calling for the rescue of practitioners' family members tortured in China|
At noon, Falun Gong practitioners from the Bay Area and other attendees marched from Justin Herman Plaza to Union Square, calling on the public to pay attention to the persecution suffered by Falun Gong practitioners in China and help rescue the practitioners and their family members. They held banners with the words, "Restore Falun Gong practitioners' freedom in China" and "Help Rescue American citizen Charles Lee" and marched through the busy areas of San Francisco. The march attracted the attention of many passers-by.
|Organiser Dean||Congresswoman Barbara Lee's representative||Amnesty International calls for an immediate end to the persecution|
After the parade, a rally was held on Union Square. San Francisco Falun Gong spokesperson Ms. Sherry Zhang said that Dr. Charles Lee went back to China in January 2003 to tell the Chinese people the facts about Falun Gong. He was arrested at the Guangzhou Airport. Now, Charles has been illegally incarcerated by the Jiang's faction for nearly two years. During the nearly two years of imprisonment, the Nanjing Prison tortured Charles both physically and mentally. They physically tortured him by means of brutal force-feeding, physical abuse and slave labour in a toxic environment. They subjected Charles to forced brainwashing in order to coerce him to give up his belief. We demand that Charles Lee be immediately and unconditionally released.
|Falun Gong practitioner Steve speaking at the rally||Clarifying the facts||Comparing the kind and the evil|
California Congresswoman Barbara Lee supports Falun Gong very much. She also pays close attention to Charles' plight. Prior to this, she co-sponsored House Resolution 304, which condemns the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong. Congresswoman Lee's assistant, Connie, spoke at the rally, "Congresswoman Lee asked me to convey her support to Dr Charles Lee. Charles is unjustly imprisoned in Nanjing. I believe that freedom of thought is the most fundamental freedom. The Chinese government puts practitioners in jail simply because they practise the exercises and have their own beliefs. Their persecution of Falun Gong is a suppression of the freedom of belief and expression."
Ms Connie expressed that the persecution must be stopped. Therefore, Congresswoman Lee co-sponsored a resolution urging the Chinese government to release all imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, to stop torturing prisoners of conscience, and to observe the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. She said, "Congresswoman Barbara Lee resolutely opposes the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, including Charles Lee. We hope you will persist in your steadfast belief in the face of the persecution."
Jeffrey Shirtleff said that he is very happy to represent Amnesty International to speak here and he is very happy that Amnesty International stands together with Falun Gong. He said that he is a friend of Charles Lee, and although he does not practise Falun Gong, he respects Falun Gong very much. He said, "I represent Amnesty International and Charles' friends, and am calling upon the Beijing authorities to immediately stop the persecution! Immediately release Charles Lee!"
Falun Gong practitioner Ms Yan Hong, who came with her husband and a one-year-old child to attend the activity, said that if even American citizens are subjected to forced labour in China's prisons, Falun Gong practitioners in China must experience even more severe persecution. She said, "Today I come here to help rescue Charles Lee. More importantly, I come here to allow the American people to learn about the ongoing persecution of the people who follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. I hope more people will extend their helping hands and help stop the persecution as soon as possible."
Ms Chen Yuxiao, who drove from Sacramento, the capital of California, to attend the rally, said that Charles is a very kind person. She said Charles wanted to help the Chinese people to learn the truth. Sadly, such a good person is currently incarcerated in a Chinese prison. She said, "I hope more people will learn how severe the Jiang faction's persecution of Falun Gong has been and how unreasonable it is. At the same time, I also hope that people will learn how wonderful Falun Dafa is and that everyone will get a chance to learn about it." She added, "When people learn the truth, they will take action. I believe that this unlawful persecution will end soon, but as long as Charles and other imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners do not obtain their freedom, we will continue our appeal."
|Calling for the rescue of Charles||Spectators learn the truth||Spectators learn the truth|
Many passersby listened to the speeches at the rally site and signed a petition calling for the rescue of Charles. One passerby who listened to the speeches expressed that he had previously heard about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, but because he was very busy every day, he did not get the chance to sit down and think about it. He said, "Today, I could carefully learn about the issue here, learn about the arrest of Charles and see what I can do to help rescue him. I'm willing to help rescue Charles Lee." Then he proudly signed his name on the petition in support of the rescue of Charles Lee. He said, "Everyone should enjoy the freedom of belief."
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