U. S. Legislators Urge for the Release of American Falun Gong Practitioner
Detained for Over a Month, Dr. Charles Li is Scheduled to Receive a Visit from the U.S. Consulate Thursday
LOS ANGELES (FDI) — Eighty-three U.S. congressional representatives are urgently demanding the Chinese government to immediately release American citizen Dr. Charles Li from detention in Yangzhou City, China (news).
The representatives called upon the Chinese government to urgently “do everything possible to ensure Mr. Li’s safety and effect his immediate release.”
Congressmen of both parties signed the dear-colleague letter dated February 21 addressed to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Dr. Li’s California Congresswoman, Ms. Anna Eshoo, initiated the letter (full text).
Dr. Li, a resident of Menlo Park, California, is a U.S. citizen with family in China. Chinese police detained him on January 22nd upon his arrival at the Guangzhou City airport in southern China. Having held Dr. Li in isolation for 30 days, Chinese police have made no formal charges and have presented no evidence to justify his captivity.
“He was going to spend the Chinese New Year with his parents,” says his fiancée, Ms. Yeong-ching Foo, also from California. “His so-called ‘crime’ is that he happens to practice Falun Gong.”
A widely popular meditation practice that promotes health and emphasizes moral character, Falun Gong was banned by China’s Communist Party chief, Jiang Zemin, in 1999. Since then, human rights organizations have reported that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured and killed.
“Clearly, we can not allow the People’s Republic of China to mistreat a citizen of our nation,” says Congressman Robert Andrews in a separate letter addressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell. “At this crucial juncture,” his letter reads, “it is absolutely essential that we send a clear statement to the Chinese government that the United States will not accept their blatant disregard for the rights of Falun Gong practitioners.”
The Human Rights Desk at the U.S. State Department reports having received hundreds of faxes and phone calls from concerned Americans who have learned of Dr. Li’s situation.
The ‘dear-colleague’ letter is not the first time that U.S. Congress has rallied in support of the rights of Falun Gong practitioners. In July 2002, The House of Representatives passed resolution 188 (news / Resolution 188) by a vote of 420-0 condemning the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
A representative of the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai is scheduled to meet with Dr. Li this Thursday, according to Adam Leining, a close friend of Charles’ who has been in contact with the Consulate. “We hope that our government can help ensure that Charles is released and allowed to come home safely,” says Leining.
Contacts for Interviews with Ms. Foo
- Adam Leining – +1 (415) 279-4407
- Sherry Zhang – +1 (415) 845-5295
- A Shattered Valentine’s Day
- Family Appeals for Charles’ Release
- Personal Statement from Charles’ Fiance, Ms. Foo
- News Story about Charles’ Detention