International Candlelight Appeal to Begin for American Held Hostage by Chinese Regime’s Persecution of Falun Gong

Dr. Charles Li Will Defend Himself in Chinese "Show Trial" on Friday

Ms. Yeong-ching Foo, 29, prepares candles she and hundreds more will use during the upcoming appeal. Her fiancé, Dr. Charles Li, is being rushed through a "show trial" in China -- a formality frequently employed by the Chinese regime to lend legitimacy to the practice of imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners for their beliefs.

Ms. Yeong-ching Foo, 29, prepares candles she and hundreds more will use during the upcoming appeal. Her fiancé, Dr. Charles Li, is being rushed through a "show trial" in China -- a formality frequently employed by the Chinese regime to lend legitimacy to the practice of imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners for their beliefs.

WASHINGTON DC (FDI) — On Thursday, March 20, practitioners and supporters of Falun Gong will hold peaceful appeals in front of Chinese Embassies and Consulates throughout the world.

Hours later in China, Dr. Charles Li is scheduled to be ushered through a “show trial” — a formality frequently employed by the Chinese regime to lend legitimacy to the practice of imprisoning Falun Gong practitioners for their beliefs.

This will mark the first time a U.S. citizen who practices Falun Gong has been put through a “show trial” in China.

Since the persecution of Falun Gong began in July 1999, not a single case in which a Falun Gong practitioner was found innocent by a Chinese court and set free — without renouncing his/her beliefs — has been documented.

China’s “Show Trials:” A Cloak of Legitimacy for Persecution

According to an August 24, 1999 AFP report: “The Chinese Government has ordered Chinese lawyers not to plead for Falun Gong practitioners. This order comes from the notices of Bureau of Justice to attorney offices in major cities.”

In 2001, sources in China indicate that the Bureau changed its strategy slightly: Instead of out-right denial of legal representation, lawyers are required to “strictly stay in accordance with the tone of the Central Government” and are “appointed” to represent Falun Gong practitioners in court.

“The possibility of a fair trial for Charles in China, or any Falun Gong practitioner for that matter, does not exist,” explains Levi Browde, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. “He’s done nothing wrong to begin with… so any legal proceedings that occur will simply be a show to legitimize the act of persecuting him for his beliefs.”

“Some China watchers and other parties concerned about Charles’ case have said they hope to ensure Charles receives a ‘fair trial,'” explains Ms. Yeong-ching Foo, Dr. Li’s fiancée. “But it is a well-documented fact that these so-called trials are just a cloak of legitimacy for the persecution.”

Ms. Foo continues, “For more than three years, the Chinese regime has never followed the law in persecuting Falun Gong. My fiancé has done nothing but peacefully practice his beliefs. What ‘fair trial’ are they talking about?”

Selecting a Lawyer is “out of the question” — Dr. Li Has Chosen to Defend Himself

Since Jan. 28 when Ms. Foo first received word that her fiancé had been detained, she has flown from her home in California to Washington DC twice, spending 14-16 hours a day meeting with government officials and local volunteers. She has visited New York to talk with media, and did a van-tour around California to raise awareness of her fiancé’s plight.

There is one thing, however, she refuses to do: hire a lawyer for Dr. Li.

Why?

“China’s legal system is just another tool utilized to persecute Falun Gong practitioners,” explains Ms. Foo. “Charles should not have been arrested in the first place. Choosing a lawyer would only serve to legitimize this show trial.”

Another problem, Ms. Foo points out, is China’s “cloak-and-dagger” judicial system toward Falun Gong. Since all lawyers are instructed to keep “in strict accordance with central government policy” regarding all Falun Gong-related cases, “what lawyer in China would dare oppose the central authority’s policy?” she asks.

According to a U.S. consular official in Shanghai, Dr. Li has opted to defend himself in Friday’s “show trial.”

Hundreds Appeal to U.S. Mission to the United Nations for Dr. Li’s Release

On Tuesday, hundreds of letters were presented to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Over 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners have gathered this week in Geneva to bring attention to the persecution of Falun Gong in China (special report) during the United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ annual meeting.

To arrange interviews with Yeong-ching, please contact:

Jared Pearman (407) 415-8384 or Yeongching Foo (408) 203-6202

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