Wednesday, November 21, 2001

We gather here today to welcome John Nania, back to Minneapolis, to celebrate his safe return home, and to reflect on why John had to go to China, and why everyone of us should be grateful that he made that journey.

As you know, John is one of 35 Falun Gong practitioners from ten countries around the world who decided to pay a visit to Tiananmen Square. There, a few of them unfurled a banner written with the words "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance," and the rest peacefully meditated. For this, John and the others were arrested and thrown in a Beijing jail.

The arrest of John Nania reveals for the entire world to see, the terror that Jiang Zemin, the president of China, has unleashed on the people of China. What John did is no different than what millions of Chinese practitioners of Falun Gong do every day, and what has happened to John is part of the price they have had to pay for over two years and four months for sticking to their principles. In the China of Jiang Zemin the simple act of meditation can not only get one arrested, it can get one beaten, brainwashed, tortured, raped, and killed. Hundreds of practitioners have died as a result of this terror. Hundreds of thousands of practitioners are being held in detention, jail, mental hospitals or labor camps.

The principles that John and the tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China abide by are Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance. John's peaceful act of civil disobedience in Beijing affirmed these principles and embodied them. In this simple act, John demonstrated a heart of great kindness, showing his concern for the practitioners of China who are facing daily persecution, and for the people of the world, in trying to let them know the truth about Falun Gong and its persecution in China. He and the 34 others who made this trip did so because they want the people of China and the people of the world to understand one simple fact. The persecution of Falun Gong in China is not a "Chinese" issue; it is a human issue. These 35 were there in Tiananmen Square to let the Chinese government and the Chinese people know the world cannot rest while good, and kind people are persecuted for being good and kind.

Here in Minnesota we know something about being kind. We joke about "Minnesota nice," but we are able to joke in this way because we are basically a kind-hearted people. We also know something about sticking by our principles, and our principles do not allow us to abide what is going on in China. Today we call on all the kind-hearted people of Minnesota to join together and let the government of Jiang Zemin know that John's trip of kindness to China will not be forgotten. We all now join with John in demanding the end to the persecution of Falun Gong. And while we give thanks for his safe return, we look forward to a Thanksgiving Day on which trips such as his will no longer be needed.

Category: April 25 Events