Eyewitness Testimony -- "I'll Never forget the April 25 Appeal"
(Clearwisdom.net) "April 25" is an unforgettable date. As a witness of what happened, and as a Falun Dafa practitioner, I feel obliged to write down what I know as historical testimony.
At that time, I was studying at the China Agricultural University. Every morning we practiced the exercises at the entrance of the university and promoted the practice to others. In the evening, we would do the exercises in a big group in an open space on campus. As for Fa-study, practitioners usually formed small groups of two or three and studied at home. The big group exercise in the evenings had many people practicing together, about 150 to 200, and the practice site was very pure and quiet. I always felt very peaceful while doing the exercises there.
One day before "April 25," we went to practice the exercises together as usual. Afterwards, I saw a few practitioners getting together and talking about something. They looked very serious. I heard about the incident regarding the magazine Science and Technology for Youth in Tianjin a couple of days earlier, and guessed that something must have happened. I walked over and asked what they were talking about. One practitioner told me that police officers in Tianjin had arrested about a few dozens practitioners, and practitioners here were thinking of going to the State Council in Beijing to report this incident. We must not let the situation deteriorate any further. I asked him if he wanted to go. He said he would think about it and told me that I should make my own decision.
I thought about it and felt that we were only going to report the incident in good faith, and this would be beneficial to the country and the people as a whole. We as practitioners had felt an obvious organized campaign with ill intentions against Falun Gong since 1998, and there had been articles in newspapers in various places that slandered Falun Gong. Each time when something like this happened, practitioners would need to go to the editors' office again and again to clarify the facts. However, as soon as one newspaper made an official apology (they don't normally apologize publicly, but would write a letter to the local practice site), another similar incident would occur in another area. The content of the letters was very similar, like they were copying each other. It was obvious that they were doing this under the same directive.
He Zuoxiu went even further as he fabricated stories on TV and in newspapers in several places in Beijing and Tianjin. When practitioners in China Science Academy went to clarify the facts to him, he refused to listen. Even when the Beijing TV Station, on which he made false accusations against Falun Gong, openly apologized and corrected their error, He Zuoxiu went to publish the same slanderous article against Falun Gong in the magazine Science and Technology for Youth in Tianjin.
A document issued by the Ministry for Public Security in 1998 already showed some indications. Roughly it said that Falun Gong was a cult and asked the public security departments in various places to collect evidence. This was a typical tactic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) - convict someone first, then start collecting [fabricated] evidence.
All these signs indicated that they (CCP) would create incidents and try to find an opportunity to crack down on Falun Gong. However, because practitioners are very kind and tolerant, the regime was not able to have its way. Each time when an incident happened, practitioners always kindly and peacefully explained to the related departments, and each time the incident was resolved properly with the relevant department officials being deeply moved by practitioners' kindness.
The incident in Tianjin was an escalation of the evil scheme against Falun Gong. The Tianjin Municipal government said they could not resolve the matter, and it could only be resolved at a higher level, which directly actuated practitioners to go to the higher level government - the State Council. We believed that as long as we remained peaceful and kind and held good intentions, the matter would be resolved properly.
It never occurred to me how the government would treat us, because I felt it was so normal that when we had a problem, we went to the authorities for help, and when the issue was resolved, we could all continue with our studies or work as normal. I thought it was a good idea, and decided to go to Zhongnanhai straight away without a second thought.
On my way to the dormitory, a few other classmates also wanted to go, so we decided to go together. We had never been to the State Council before and did not know how to get there. In the end, we decided to go by bike after the morning exercises the next day.
On April 25, we left early. We rode from the Summer Palace and followed practitioners who knew the way. It took us two to three hours to get to a place close to Zhongnanhai. I did not know where it was, and was told that it was pretty close to Zhongnanhai and it would take us 20 minutes to walk there. In order not to cause traffic problems near Zhongnanhai, we decided to leave our bikes in a bicycle parking place and walked the rest of the distance.
There were a few female practitioners who had come with us. Although it was a long way to ride, they stayed with us and were in very good spirits. They were all good students, one of them had a PhD degree, and another had just been admitted for postgraduate studies. I still remember their faces. They all had rosy faces from practicing Falun Gong, and because their hearts were calm, they also looked very calm and peaceful, and did not show any anxiety because we were on our way to the State Council.
We arrived at Fuyou Street near Zhongnanhai at around 9:00 am. By then there were already a lot of practitioners standing on each side of the street. We kept on walking, hoping we could see someone we knew. When we were near an entrance of a street, we decided to stay there because we could see that there were more people ahead and the sidewalk was already crowed with people. We found ourselves a space, keeping the entrances of residences and businesses clear, and stood on the sidewalk. At that time, the road traffic was running smoothly, and there were cars coming and going. There was a female police officer standing in the middle of the road. She looked rather relaxed and did not pay much attention to us.
Local residents and passers-by all looked at us with surprise, as they did not know what we were doing there. At the beginning, a few of them looked a bit annoyed as they were worried that we might affect their businesses. But when they saw practitioners left sufficient space for them and were very kind and peaceful, they became relaxed themselves. An old lady also brought out a stove to bake sweet potatoes to sell.
I stood there for a while, and when I started to wonder what was happening, we heard news passed down from practitioners in front of us that Premier Zhu received our representatives and things were progressing.
At lunch time, we ate the food we brought with us and put the empty bags and other litter we picked up on the ground in a plastic bag. Just then an old practitioner came with a big black plastic bag in her hand. She asked practitioners to put their rubbish in the bag as she walked along the street. So we put our rubbish in her bag.
At around 1:00 pm (as this happened a long time ago, this time may not be exact), we heard more news that the practitioners in Tianjin had been released, and that practitioners were talking with officials in Zhongnanhai, with the hope that we would be given the freedom to practice, and continue to publish Dafa books.
We continued to wait. Some practitioners laid down mats on the ground and began to do the exercises. Most practitioners were reading and we also began to read Zhuan Falun. At that point, a middle aged man approached us, and wanted to know what we were doing. He wondered if we were appealing as factory workers who were mistreated. We replied that we were not. When he saw that we did not want to publicize what we were doing, he told us that he was from Asashi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper), and that he wanted to find out what was happening. Still we did not tell him much, just said that we were peacefully appealing for an issue, which we believed would be resolved very soon. We told him, if he wanted to know more, he would find out from news reports on the following day. As he realized he could not get much information from us, he smiled and walked away. I don't know if he eventually found out what had happened.
In the afternoon, we walked along the street, and soon realized that we were not far from Beihai Park where many practitioners were standing around. There were fewer practitioners beyond the fly-over, but we could still see some in groups of twos and threes. There were more street peddlers in this area. As I gazed at the beautiful white tower of Beihai Park, I thought, "White tower, we meet for the first time on such an occasion! In the future, would you still remember the many things that happened today?"
The practitioners we met along the way moved me deeply. Some were military officers, armed police; there were tall, beautiful ladies, and graceful middle aged women; there were also peasants who carried traditional fabric bags, and also students, just like us. Beside us, stood a few fashion models who had travelled by plane. They said they had missed the earlier flight, so could only stand where we were. Two very well dressed men accompanied them, whom we guessed were their company directors. As we stood together, we did not feel any difference between us, as we had mutual affinity. Prior to that time, I had not been in contact with many practitioners, and felt that people who dressed so fashionably, and were rich, could hardly be our practitioners. However, what I experienced on this trip enabled me to come to a deeper understanding about the profoundness of Dafa which our revered Master has taught us.
At approximately 9:00 pm, we heard more news that everything had been resolved, and our representative practitioners would continue to discuss with the officials later. We were told to return home. We felt very happy and thought that this was really wonderful!
We picked up the rubbish around where we were, and looked for a rubbish bin, but all bins were already full. Just then another practitioner came along with a large plastic bag, and called for us to drop the rubbish in his bag. We took our rubbish over and asked if we could help carry the bag. He told us there was no need, as he was very familiar with the area and knew where to throw the bag. He told us to return home quickly as it was already getting late. We strolled back very cheerfully. On the way, a man called out from behind, "Are you coming again?" We laughed and replied that we were not coming, because problems had been resolved. However, afterward we realized the man might have been a plain clothed agent who wanted to know what we would do next.
I forget now how late it was when we got back to our dormitory. We felt very happy that the issue was resolved so nicely. However, unknowingly to us, a gigantic black net had begun to open.
During the "April 25" appeal, practitioners were all so peaceful and compassionate. Each one of us felt so good and the people also saw the beauty of Dafa. Many people spoke highly of Falun Gong. We truly wished that everything would turn out for the better thereafter!
However, in the following days, we suffered interference from many directions. Firstly, we had a secret agent appearing at our practice site, who liked to mix with practitioners to listen to our conversations. He listened here and there, and shortly after, practitioners realized there was something wrong with him. Nevertheless, practitioners all felt Dafa is open and dignified, and there was nothing we wanted to hide, so nobody bothered to expose him or stop him. Next, our weekend practice site and activities were interrupted by police. They sent police vans and demanded that we pack up the banners and stop our activities. Practitioners clarified the facts to them. When they stopped us at one place, we moved to a different location, but they kept following us and stopping us. Our activities became more and more difficult. Later, they started to monitor the movements of our local assistants. They assigned many police officers to follow practitioners. At the local cultivation experience sharing conference, practitioners did not stop them from entering, but they did not dare to enter. So they tried to monitor what was going on and cause trouble. The situation became more intense and eventually led to the official ban of Falun Gong on July 20.
Recalling the entire April 25 Appeal, I could feel the fine characters Dafa disciples had cultivated. Each one of them was so noble. In a situation where they were being treated so unfairly, they still considered others ahead of themselves, showing understanding and handling things with such compassion. At that time I thought, if all the people in China could treat themselves and others this way and in resolving conflicts, then the Chinese people would become the most outstanding in the world, and China would become the most prosperous and peaceful nation on earth!