Germany: Falun Gong Has Taken Root in Goettingen - Part 1
(Clearwisdom.net) On a train to Hanover, a medium-built but energetic young man was handing out leaflets about Falun Gong and the persecution in China. Glancing over the content, a passenger commented, "I know about Falun Gong. I saw them every day at the Old Town Hall Square in Goettingen." Coincidentally, the leaflet distributor came from Goettingen. From 2001 to 2003, several young Falun Gong practitioners from Goettingen had been demonstrating the exercises and telling people about the persecution at the Old Town Hall Square every single day. He happened to be one of them.
The practitioners' perseverance brought about a series of changes and events in Goettingen. These included the University offering a Falun Gong course for a whole semester, Falun Gong practitioner Zhang Cuiying holding a painting exhibition on the city government's invitation, the Mayor paying attention to China's persecution of Falun Gong, and positive media coverage. In addition, a human rights organization with headquarters in Goettingen filing a claim against the chief perpetrator of the persecution, Jiang Zemin, during his visit to Germany at the Supreme Court of the Confederation.
Stories from Goettingen
Goettingen is a famous university town in Germany. It is home to one of the top ten universities in Germany, which has produced no fewer that forty-three Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Falun Dafa has spread around the world and Goettingen is no exception. For several years, the weekly group practice site had been at the university gymnasium. In 2001, a few young practitioners came to Goettingen. They felt that even though people could see the time and place of practice from the gym program, most of the public would miss out. Therefore, they decided to do the exercises at the city center every afternoon.
At the center of the Old Town Hall Square is the famous century-old symbol of Goettingen, a statue of a girl holding a goose. German people will immediately think of her when Goettingen is mentioned. Daily commuters as well as sightseeing tourists cross the square every day.
Concerned about obtaining permission to practice, the practitioners initially went to only relatively out-of-the-way places in the city center. Later, they felt that the purpose of practicing outdoors was to expose the Chinese government's evil persecution of Falun Gong and to further bring the benefits of Falun Gong to everyone. Therefore, they felt that the practice site should be in the busiest place in the city. After realizing this, the practitioners went straight to the city center, Old Town Hall Square. Interestingly, the police never asked any questions about their activities, even though there is a police bureau right at the edge of the square. Indeed one policeman came over once to ask where the practice site was, saying he would like to learn in his spare time.
The practitioners practiced there for nearly a year and a half until they left Goettingen one after another.
During this year and a half, they did the exercises on the Old Town Hall Square every day, rain or shine. Sometimes a handful, sometimes just one person would start the exercises after laying out the informational materials. A Chinese youth demonstrating beautiful, gentle Falun Gong exercises and calling for China to stop persecuting Falun Gong had become a fixture at the Old Town Hall Square. Practitioners who could not make it to the exercise site would take to the streets to collect signatures and call on professors, politicians, and clergymen, to tell them about the persecution. As time went by, more and more people took notice. Even in the worst weather, people would come to ask, "What is this?" "Why does the Chinese government persecute these peaceful practitioners?" "Good luck!" Often, as soon as passer-by raised a question, others who had learned the truth would explain it to them before the practitioners could even answer.
Goettingen forms ties with Falun Gong
On January 28, 2002, Falun Gong practitioners successfully held a symposium with professors from Goettingen University. Through this symposium, students gained a better understanding of Falun Gong, the contents of Falun Dafa's main text, Zhuan Falun, and the facts of Jiang Zemin's persecution. During the winter term that year, Falun Gong was offered for a whole semester as one of the courses at the College of Theology.
During the annual St. Nicholas Day celebrations in 2001, the Falun Gong practitioners happened to meet a person who worked for Amnesty International. Subsequently, through him, practitioners gained Amnesty International's support in planning various joint activities, which played a positive role in exposing the evil and stopping the persecution.
On April 5, 2002, prior to Jiang's visit to Germany, the Goettingen City Council and Amnesty International jointly invited Dafa practitioner Zhang Cuiying to hold a painting exhibition and a press conference, which attracted media attention.
Deputy Mayor Wilhelm Gerhardy commented at the press conference, "We also have the special duty of drawing people's attention to human rights abuses. Such acts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader is simply absurd against such a spiritual movement, a Buddha School cultivation method which teaches people to follow the principles of 'Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance' in their daily lives and improves both mind and body through five gentle exercises... Since 1999 the CCP leaders have been persecuting Falun Gong on such a large scale. What exactly are they afraid of? ... Human rights and democratic systems do not come easily. Therefore it is necessary for us to talk about values, to think about the values that drive our society, the basic rights of a democratic system. Human dignity, religious freedom, tolerance, and equality are all these kind of values. 'Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance' as advocated by Falun Gong are also such values."
On April 8th, 2002, during Jiang's visit to Germany, the Association for Threatened Nations, a human rights organization headquartered in Goettingen, indicted Jiang Zemin at the Supreme Court of the Confederation of Germany.
The indictment charged Jiang with four cases of persecution deaths, including Falun Gong practitioners. According to the Chairperson, Mr. Tilman Zulch, China violates time and again the anti-torture convention it signed. If one violates such convention in Germany, it is punishable by law.
On August 17, 2002, German Falun Gong practitioners held a series of activities with the theme, "Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong Together." Churches, the Green Party, Amnesty International, and the Association for Threatened Nations were among the organizations invited to participate. This was the first time in Germany where representatives from churches and political parties gave public speeches during a Falun Gong activity. The media gave this event positive coverage.
Mr. Ungerer from the Green Party of the City Council said, "We cannot tolerate political persecution of a peaceful group." He highly praised the spirit of "Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance" and the magnificent feat of Falun Gong practitioners courageously appealing against the persecution. Dr. Delius from the Association for Threatened Nations warned in his speech, "We cannot turn a blind eye to the worsening of human rights conditions in China in order to gain more business from China. Germany should not keep silent." Father Lahmann from a Christian Church pointed out, "Falun Gong represents the Chinese people who long for democracy and freedom, and will become the new hope of China. The German government and other democratic countries should not put economic policies ahead of human rights." Mr. Schmalzried from the Goettingen branch of Amnesty International condemned this persecution of human rights in China and overseas alike, and its negative impact on democratic countries. Asking the German public not to favor economics over human rights, he called for the entire international community to work together to stop this persecution.
In March 2003, the Student Union of Goettingen University invited Falun Gong practitioners to give a lecture. Once deceived by the slanderous lies of the CCP, they had cancelled Falun Gong's participation in Student Union activities. Since then, they have gained a new understanding of Falun Gong. Practitioners were invited to introduce Falun Gong and talk about the reasons for the persecution and how to help practitioners in China.