China's President Jiang Zemin is stopping in Chicago Tuesday on his way to meet with President Bush in Texas. Human rights activists are making sure China's poor human rights record is on the summit's agenda.
Hundreds of practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement from several countries assembled on a plaza in downtown Chicago Monday.
Most sat silently surrounded by banners calling on the Chinese government to stop persecuting practitioners like Shenli Lin, who now lives in Canada.
With his wife Jin Yu Li translating, he talked about being put in a Chinese labor camp for two years after police caught him performing Falun Gong's yoga-like exercises in public.
"The police, they wanted to force me to denounce Falun Gong, so they beat me," he said. "They [the government] used policemen to beat me. They forced me to do heavy labor work every day for more than 13 hours."
A few meters away, Zhi Zhen Dai of Australia showed reporters a photograph of her husband, a Falun Gong practitioner who died in prison last year, six months after his arrest in Beijing. "He handed a letter to the Chinese government appeal office, saying 'Our family benefits so much from practicing Falun Gong. Falun Dafa is good.' He was arrested by the police and put into jail, tortured and died last year," the actvivist said.
China's government has outlawed Falun Gong as an evil cult, and has detained thousands of its practitioners. Last week, China's state-controlled Legal Daily newspaper reported the government sentenced a Falun Gong practitioner to death, allegedly for strangling a daughter she believed was possessed by a demon.
Chicago Falun Gong representative Steven Gregory says practitioners are filing human rights charges with the International Criminal Court against China's President Jiang, as well as two other top government officials.
"He is someone who deserves to be taken to the International Criminal Court," Mr. Gregory said. "He is somebody we would speak of in the same words as [former Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic or others."
Falun Gong practitioners also marched through downtown Chicago to the Chinese consulate Monday afternoon. They plan to protest silently outside the hotel where President Jiang will stay during his visit to Chicago. He will meet with President Bush in Texas on Friday.