China is guilty of repression, says spiritual sect's advocate

STATESVILLE -- David Jerke of Tacoma, Wash., passed through Statesville on Tuesday on a trek from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles to raise awareness of what he says is the Chinese government's persecution of a lifestyle.

Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese program of self-improvement that Jerke said is based on truth, compassion and tolerance. Practice involves exercises for the mind and body. Many followers attribute cures for physical and mental illness to Falun Gong.

According to Jerke, China pursues an active regimen of terrorizing, imprisoning and even murdering Falun Gong followers.

"Followers of Falun Gong are apolitical," he said. "There's no reason for the Chinese government to commit these atrocities. Falun Gong is not a threat to any government or religion."

Jerke says his walk has been hard so far; he does have blisters. But he contends his pains are nothing compared with the suffering in China.

"Most people don't know about Falun Gong and have no idea about the brutal terrorizing by the Chinese government," he said.

The walk is financed by Jerke and other Falun Gong practitioners.