Jane Zhizhen Dai, a practitioner of the Chinese meditation art Falun Gong, addresses students and the press Friday on the West Mall with her daughter Fadu.
Falun Gong practitioners on Friday called for immediate help from Americans to rescue their imprisoned friends and relatives in China. The group gathered on the West Mall to announce the beginning of a National Family Rescue Campaign.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a traditional, self-cultivation practice to improve mind and body. It is practiced by millions of people in more than 50 countries, specifically China.
"It's similar to yoga," said Danielle Wang, a civil engineering junior whose father is in a Chinese prison. "It's like people here who wake up in the morning to run - we practice Falun Gong."
The campaign calls on President Bush to bring up the issue of Falun Gong during the visit of Chinese [leader] Jiang Zemin to the White House in October.
The [Jiang regime is persecuting] Falun Gong. Thousands of practitioners have been detained, and in the last year, at least 22 people have died while in custody of Chinese police, according to a Falun Gong release.
"The government is scared because there are more practitioners of Falun Gong than the Communist Party. They think they are losing peoples' hearts," Wang said.
Wang told the story of her father, who was captured on July 20, 1999 for being a contact person for Falun Gong. Wang moved to America for safety and has since seen her father once - on CNN for his final court hearing.
"He was not even given proper clothes to wear ... he had lost most of his teeth. I couldn't believe it was my dad because the bruises and expression on his face," Wang said.
Wang's father was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and she now speaks out for his freedom.
"I finally understood to remain silent is to aid the evil," Wang said.
Wang was one of several who told their story.
Jane Zhizhen Dai and her 2-year-old daughter, Fadu, were left behind when her husband, Chenyong, was arrested, tortured and eventually killed. She now travels worldwide to tell her story.
"I'm only one of thousands of families who suffer, and they don't have a chance to speak for themselves. I speak for them from my heart," Dai said.
At the event, practitioners held a sign that read, "President Bush Please Help to Rescue Our Family Members," and handed out postcards stamped and addressed to Bush asking him to "set an example for the world to follow in confronting [Jiang Zemin] on these vitally important issues."
"I owe my release to thousands of Canadians who signed petitions," said Shenli Lin, a Falun Gong practitioner detained by the [Jiang regime] in 1999. "I believe if every one of us show our support, this evil persecution will end, and our family members will return home soon."
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