U-WIRE) PITTSBURGH 09/04/2003- Against a backdrop reading “Falun Dafa: Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance,” a woman described the imprisonment of her fiance. Others meditated while she talked, unfazed by the light rain. Passersby were encouraged to sign a petition for his release. The woman, Yeong-ching Foo, is a practitioner of the Chinese meditation technique Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa. She and other practitioners demonstrated in front of the William Pitt Union Wednesday to spread awareness of the Chinese government’s negative attitude toward the technique and to drum up support for the release of her fiance, Dr. Charles Lee, a U.S. citizen currently imprisoned in China. Lee, a Menlo, Calif., native, was arrested in China about six months ago at Guangzhou Airport, where he traveled to “reveal the truth of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners,” Foo said. “The anti-Falun Gong propaganda has created a hatred in many Chinese people against Falun Gong,” she added. Falun Gong, like Tai Chi, has its roots in traditional Chinese meditation. It emerged as a prominent practice in 1992, when founder Li Hongzhi introduced Falun Gong to the public. Falun Gong itself consists of five basic positions designed to cleanse the mind, body and soul. Its three chief tenets are truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. “If society practices compassion and peacefulness, the society will get better and better,” said Xiao Yan Liu, Falun Gong practitioner and cancer researcher at Pitt’s Cancer Institute. The Chinese government’s active opposition to Falun Gong began in 1999, when a Chinese survey found that about 70 million people practiced Falun Gong — 10 million more people than were members of the Communist party at that time. In June of that year, then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin outlawed Falun Gong and established the “610 Office,” a secret police force designed to root out practitioners. “Zemin was like Hitler, and the 610 Office is like the Gestapo,” Foo said. Foo detailed Lee’s treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities. “The police deprived him from sleep for three days and three nights and took turns attacking him in interrogation, and handcuffed him for 72 hours,” she said. “The handcuffs cut deep into his skin and the scars were still visible for months.” To date, 775 Falun Gong practitioners have died in government custody, according to the group gathered in front of the Union. Stateside, the U.S. Congress passed resolution 188 in July, which strongly condemns the actions of the Chinese government and demands that the Chinese do not arrest any Falun Gong practitioners because of their involvement with the practice. In spite of the knowledge that her fiance is being imprisoned and tortured, Foo said she is trying to remain upbeat. “I’m proud of him,” she said. “His actions are very noble.” The demonstration at Pitt is just one stop on a cross-country tour that started in San Francisco and will end in Boston. Foo’s goal throughout it all is to educate people about the persecution she feels fellow practitioners face. in China and, in the process, get her fiance released.