Lemish, 23, was born in Columbus, Ohio, and came here with his parents at five. He completed high school and served in the IDF, after which he returned to the US, where he is a student at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He has been practicing Falun Gong for about 10 months.
His mother Dafna said she is very concerned about him, but at the same time supportive of his actions and proud he is an activist for human rights.
She said she and her family had known Leeshai was going to China as part of the protest. However, since the entire operation had been organized with great secrecy, it was difficult to gather details.
She said at first the family had tried to dissuade him, stressing the dangers involved, but when they saw he was determined to go, they concentrated on helping him plan the logistics. Her son had been allowed one telephone call from prison and had called his girlfriend, who in turn informed the family of his arrest.
In a statement formulated before his arrest, Lemish described the persecution of the Falun Gong as a direct assault on human morality.
"The persecution of Falun Gong directly concerns each and every one of us," he said.
Leeshai described the issue as a confrontation between those who promote violent oppression and those who seek to become more peaceful and kind, between a government which lies to its people and those who refuse to lie, even if it means being tortured.
"Neutrality does not exist. If you are being silent, you are siding with the perpetrators," he said.
Qi Qianjin, political and press attache of the Chinese Embassy, said that yesterday at 3 p.m. a group of some 30 foreigners held a demonstration on behalf of Falun Gong, which the Chinese government considers to be a [slanderous word omitted] and an unlawful organization.
The men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, initially looked like tourists, talking among themselves and taking photographs. But then they sat down together, legs crossed, eyes closed, and hands pressed as if in prayer. Police vans quickly encircled them. Uniformed officers separated those who interlocked arms. After brief resistance, police loaded them onto vans and drove away. The incident lasted 10 minutes.
Falun Gong said 36 people took part in the protest - from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. State television said the foreigners were detained, given warnings, and would be expelled.
Israeli Falun Gong practitioners yesterday held a protest near the Rehov Arlosoroff train station in Tel Aviv against what they termed as China's continued brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
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