A group of demonstrators protested last week the persecution in China against people who participate in a spiritual and self-improvement practice that includes physical and mental exercises.
The protesters, who demonstrated on Thursday, November 8 outside the Bronx County Courthouse at E. 159th Street and Grand Concourse, said that practitioners of the practice called Falun Dafa have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered. The protesters said that over 200,000 people in China have been arrested for practicing Falun Dafa, and 305 people have died while in police custody.
The protesters are seeking help from the United States and other countries to stop what they described as atrocities against people who practice Falun Dafa.
The group of about 30 demonstrators said they are protesting the Chinese government's treatment of practitioners of Falun Dafa, which is based on the principles of Truthfulness, Benevolence and Forbearance. Signs said, "Stop Human Rights Abuse in China" and "China: Stop Terror Against Falun Dafa Now."
One of the protesters, Reaching Lee, a research scientist and resident of Morris Park, said that he felt it was important for him to take action because of the continuing tortures, imprisonments and murders.
Lee pointed out that protesters have been taking a variety of actions to end the brutality in China. He said, "We're calling for justice." He stressed that practitioners of Falun Dafa have been nonviolent in their response to the actions against them.
One speaker, Amy Lee, a fashion designer, described how she was tortured after she was taken into custody in China because of her practice of Falun Dafa. She described horrible treatment including being beaten unconscious, and getting force-fed through a tube through her nose even though she was not on a hunger strike.
While Lee was in custody, her husband divorced her and she was no longer able to see her child. She was released after she went on a hunger strike and her family paid for her release.
A major part of the protest was the arrival of four protesters who traveled through the Bronx on Thursday as part of a 750-mile trek from Canada to the United Nations. The four hikers were welcomed by the protesters and they joined the group of demonstrators.
The walkers endured the heat, cold, rain, blistered feet and sunburn for over 60 days, walking about 20 kilometers a day. The four walkers were Yang, Liu, Zhu and Li.
Zhu said, "We are tired, but it is worth it." She explained that the walkers were taking the opportunity to protest the persecution. She added, "Thousands of lives are in great danger and their voices are not being heard. We appeal to people to stand up and stop the mass killing."
Scott Chinn, a Manhattan resident who practices Falun Dafa, pointed out that after the World Trade Center attack, the good side of human nature was shown by rescue workers and volunteers. He said the walkers are acting in a way much like these people did after the disaster.
He added that the walkers understand the pain of Americans since they have seen at least 304 death reports and countless acts of terror and injuries inflicted on millions of innocent Falun Dafa practitioners and their families as the result of terrorism.
Chinn pointed out that millions of people in 45 countries are practicing Falun Dafa and have reported dramatic improvements in health and spiritual well being. In fact, free Falun Dafa classes are held in the Bronx every Saturday morning.
The ancient practice of Falun Dafa, originally taught in private only, was first introduced to the public in 1992 by Li Hongzhi in China.
Protesters said that since July 1999, the Chinese government, under President Jiang Zemin, has launched a vicious terror campaign against the Falun Dafa practitioners.
The protesters said that President Zemin has mobilized all government agencies, media, police, judicial system, schools, private or state enterprises, to criminalize the people who practice the mental and physical exercises.