Vancouver, Canada: Stories from a Small Blue Shelter (Part 3) (Photos)
The peaceful demonstration in front of the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver has been ongoing for five years and eleven months. Twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, Falun Gong practitioners have voluntarily come and kept the protest going for two thousand and one hundred days.
Mrs. Li from Mainland China: My biggest wish is to stop the persecution soon
During the initial stage of the peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Consulate, Mrs. Li had just immigrated to Vancouver less than six months before. She tried to adjust to the brand new society; she attended an English class and went to work. In 2003 she moved to a small city one hour away from Vancouver. She needed to change buses three times to get to the Chinese Consulate, and each morning she had to catch the early bus to work. Many times, she fell asleep and missed her bus stop and had to catch the bus back.
It has been five years and Mrs. Li still comes to the peaceful demonstration once a week. She has spent three hundred nights here. She states: "I have a family and a job like everyone else. Five years ago, I spent Christmas Eve in front of the Chinese Consulate. I again spent Christmas Eve here this year. Everyone wishes to spend Christmas Eve with his or her loved ones. My greatest wish is to end the persecution against the people who practice 'Truth, Compassion, Forbearance' soon."
When Mrs. Li had just arrived in Canada, whenever she heard the familiar Falun Gong exercise music, she could not stop the tears from running down her face. In Mainland China, Falun Gong practitioners have no rights to practice the exercises at all. The Jiang regime decided to "root out" Falun Gong and, from that point on, nobody was allowed to do the Falun Gong exercises in the park. One time, she took a mat and went to a park to do the sitting meditation. Before she even started, a policeman came over and asked: "Do you practice Falun Gong?" She replied yes, and was arrested immediately and illegally detained.
Mrs. Li said, "Later, my work place bailed me out, but the administrators were afraid. At the beginning of the year, they all praised me because my practicing the exercises gave me good health and saved the country a large amount in medical expenses. They asked everyone to learn from me. Less than six months later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sent out documents and ordered everyone not to practice Falun Gong. The administrators immediately asked me to stop the practice. They claimed: 'We can afford your medical bills.'"
Mrs. Li continued, "Isn't it my basic right to pursue good health? Many fellow practitioners were arrested and detained, their homes were raided, and their personal property was confiscated. There are still many practitioners held in labor camps and brainwashing centers. To date, at least three thousand sixty-two practitioners have been tortured to death. This includes two practitioners that I knew well--one was a forty-one-year-old college teacher, the other was a sixty-five-year-old retired government official."
Initially, Mrs. Li's family members were against her peaceful demonstration in front of the Chinese Consulate. They told her, "You are safe in Canada. You should exercise at home and not cause any trouble." She replied, " You know clearly that the CCP is persecuting kind people. How can I stand aside and not care? Particularly, the recently revealed CCP crimes of harvesting Falun Gong practitioners' organs for profit; it is intolerable and against the course of nature! The persecution is not only against Falun Gong practitioners, it is also against the human conscience. Everyone is involved. I hope to end the persecution soon."
Young children witness history
Many Falun Gong practitioners in Vancouver are young mothers; some of them took part in the peaceful protest while they were pregnant; they would then disappear for a little while and when they reappeared, they came with a stroller. Those children participated in the peaceful demonstration before they were born; they too witnessed the history of peaceful demonstration against tyranny.
During the fourth anniversary of the peaceful demonstration, Xiao Deng and her family sit in peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Consulate
Ms. Xiao Deng is a petite young lady. Besides caring for her child, she works three days a week as well. She said that she did not know how she kept on for so many years. No matter how intense the heat of summer or how bitter cold the winter, she comes to spend eight hours in front of the Chinese Consulate. She usually has a simple breakfast and won't eat dinner until she goes home that night. She keeps baby milk in an icebox with her. Ms. Deng holds her year-old baby to her chest to catch the bus and feels very tired at times. She hesitated in the past when there was severe weather. When she thought about Wang Lixuan who went to Beijing eight times to appeal for Falun Gong and was tortured to death along with her eight-month-old son who was about her son's age, she picked up an umbrella and started out for the Consulate.
One day during a snowstorm, it took Ms. Deng a half an hour to get to the bus station, which usually only takes her ten minutes, then it was forty-five minutes from the station to the Chinese Consulate, which usually takes about fifteen minutes. That day, many people honked their horn and waved to show their support. Some tour buses made a special effort to drive close by with an entire busload of people waving at her and her son. As her son grew, he became too heavy to carry and she began use a stroller. Later, a blue shelter was made, which helps enormously during the severe weather.
Ms. Deng's husband Leo initially opposed her participation in the peaceful demonstration, but later he also began to practice Falun Gong. Now sometimes you will see the whole family there in front of the Chinese Consulate, and her now six-year-old son Zhongzhong sends forth righteous thoughts with them.
When the heart is righteous, helpers are nearby
Among the Falun Gong practitioners who take part in the peaceful protest, there is a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Zhang, who are both seventy-nine years old. They come from northwest China. For the last three years, they have been going to the Chinese Consulate to peacefully demonstrate for eight hours every Saturday. They both had many illnesses in the past and Falun Gong gave them a second life. Now they want to come out to speak up for Falun Gong. They live in a suburb two hours away and have to change buses to get to the site. They do not speak any English and Mr. Zhang cannot remember the route. Mrs. Zhang remembers the route to the consulate by using landmarks as reference. In April 2006, the bus changed routes, and after riding the subway, they could not find the bus station. When Mrs. Zhang asked for directions, someone took them to the new station which was several blocks away, and they still arrived at the site on time.
What happens if she meets someone who only speaks English? Mrs. Zhang said, "I use hand gestures and the number of the bus. They understand right away and take us to the right station. When the heart is righteous, helpers are nearby."
It is not always peaceful in front of the Chinese Consulate. People often attempt to disturb and destroy the display banners, curse at the practitioners and throw trash at them. One day when Mrs. Zhang was sitting there alone, a young man came by and attempted to destroy the display. When she shouted, "No!" he immediately ran away.
Unwavering little flowers
Among the practitioners, Mr. Taik is a Japanese practitioner who is sixty-seven years old. He assembled a golden-orange antique car and welded bars at the back of his car to hold a display board. He carries all sorts of repair and cleaning tools in his car. Mr. Taik prepared the sound equipment and lamps for the blue shelter. He comes every other day to clear dust off the display boards, clean the shelter, rearrange the sitting mats and take the heavy battery home to recharge. He cleans up leaves and trash and takes them away in his car when the weather is warm and shovels the snow in winter. He quietly does these small and ordinary things.
In the spring of 2002, Mr. Taik brought some flowers and placed them under the big wreath, expressing his grief for those fellow practitioners who were persecuted to death. He planted flower seeds at the base of the wall and was surprised to see flowers blossom that fall. Falun Gong practitioners believe there will be an end of the peaceful demonstration in front of the Chinese Consulate one day and those display boards will be taken down the day the persecution is over.