More than two decades ago, some 10,000 Chinese people gathered in front of Beijing’s State Appeals Office on an April day in 1999. Quietly and calmly, the people were appealing for their civil rights. No slogans and no violence. They were the Falun Gong practitioners who were under the Chinese Communist Party’s suppression for practicing their spiritual beliefs at the time. Although the communist regime labeled the movement “laying siege to the Zhongnanhai Central Government Compound,” Representative Scott Perry said that the demonstration “continues to give courage to millions worldwide.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice. Originated in 1992, it involves five slow-moving exercises. Its principles are based on Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The practice has become popular in over 100 countries worldwide. But under the ruling of the CCP, in China, Falun Gong has been under heavy persecution.
In an interview with the English version of Da Ji Yuan newspaper, the representative described the April 25 appeal as the “largest peaceful protest in modern Chinese history.”
Since 1996, the Chinese regime has banned the publication of Falun Gong’s main book. Police started disturbing their practice site. State-run newspapers began to attack Falun Gong’s reputation verbally. On April 23 and 24, 1999, Tianjin police arrested 45 practitioners when they were clarifying the truth to a magazine publisher about an article that slandered the practice.
By peaceful appeal, the adherents asked the authorities to release the Falun Gong practitioners arrested days earlier. Moreover, they required the government to lift its suppression of the spiritual practice.
Perry stated, “The bravery of the Falun Gong that day continues to give courage to millions worldwide who believe in and yearn for an end to CCP repression.”
The Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on Truthfulness – Compassion – Forbearance
The representative’s comments came only days before the 23rd anniversary of the nonviolent appeal. This is the time for Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world to gather in cities and towns. They usually commemorate the event and protest against China’s ongoing persecution of Falun Gong followers.
He also stated that the Chinese regime soon began to see the increasing popularity of this non-party movement as a danger to its control of the nation.
On the night of the appeal on April 25, Tianjin police released the arrested practitioners. Then-Premier Zhu Rongji (朱镕基 Zhū Róngjì) assured Falun Gong could be practiced freely. The gathered adherents left the CCP compound. Many thought the problem was solved.
However, three months later, then-General Secretary Jiang Zemin (江泽民 Jiāng Zémín) initiated the nationwide crackdown on Falun Gong.
Jiang used this false account to portray Falun Gong as a provocative political group and justify the horrific persecution. Perry described the move as an act of “malfeasant cowards.”
A leaked document from Wuzhong District Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) in November 2020 shows that the CCP continued to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. The brutal persecution went on even amid the COVID pandemic.
According to Minghui.org, a website that tracks the persecution of Falun Gong in China, over 5,000 arrests and more than 10,000 harassment instances of the practitioners were confirmed in 2021.
Until today, this has been the longest-lasting persecution of a faith group in China.
Voice against the CCP’s atrocities while upholding the April 25 peaceful appeal’s spirit
According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, millions of adherents have been held in jails, detention facilities, and labor camps since the persecution began. In these places, they have been subjected to torture, organ harvesting, and other types of abuse. Some experts have described the CCP’s assault against Falun Gong as a genocide.
Despite all of that, the spirit of the April 25 appeal has not faded away.
Demonstrating in front of the Chinese embassy in Belgium, a practitioner said: “This is the 23rd year since the persecution began. We come here every year no matter the weather. We stand in front of the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) embassy, meditate quietly, do the exercises, tell people about Falun Dafa, and demand that the persecution end.”
Nico Bijnens, head of the Belgian Falun Dafa Association, said that every year around April 25, Falun Gong practitioners hold events to clarify the truth. They want to remind people worldwide that the persecution of Falun Gong is still happening in mainland China. However, Communist China has covered it up.
He added that cultivation is to regulate yourself according to the values of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. If everyone could follow this, the world would be completely different. The persecution of people who believe in those values is a big mistake.
Outside the Chinese Consulate in Chicago on April 16, Falun Gong practitioners also held an event to commemorate the April 25 appeal. They demonstrated the exercises and held banners that showed the CCP’s brutal persecution. Many passersby stopped to read the information and signed the petition to stop the atrocities.
The practitioners also see the commemoration as a chance to spread hope and faith in goodness. On April 23, about 2000 adherents gathered in a parade, marching along the streets in New York’s Chinatown. There, they dressed up in traditional Chinese costumes and moved on a colorful-decorated float. To represent the beauty of the Chinese divine culture, they performed dragon dances. There were also some women dressed like Chinese fairies in ancient tales. From time to time, they offered passersby origami lotus flowers.