Falun Gong Practitioners from All Over the World Rally in Washington D.C. to Protest Beijing's Persecution
July 20, 2001
On the second anniversary of the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong, practitioners from all over the world gathered in the nation's capital, Washington D.C., to hold a large-scale peaceful march and press conference. Many legislators from the United States Senate and House of Representatives, plus many representatives of human rights organizations attended the press conference to support the practitioners' activities.
At 8:00AM on Thursday, using " SOS! Urgent: Rescue of Falun Gong Practitioners Persecuted in China" as the theme, the rally started with a group practice. About 2,000 practitioners went to the Washington Monument, located in the center of Washington D.C.
Around 10:30AM on Thursday, more than 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners and supporters started off from the Washington Monument towards Capitol Hill. This purpose of this march was both to commemorate the second anniversary of the Chinese government's suppression of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, and to raise awareness and support for Falun Gong from U.S. government officials and the nation as a whole.
The Falun Gong march was extraordinarily peaceful. Many practitioners dressed in white and wore white flowers on their chests. Two practitioners walking in the front carried a huge wreath bearing the Chinese character for "commemoration." Immediately following, dozens more practitioners held portraits of murdered practitioners. Others held banners that read, "Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance," "Urgent Rescue the Falun Gong Practitioners Persecuted in China," "Stop the Killing", etc.
Practitioners who joined the rally on Thursday were from all over the world. In order to create a greater impact, some U.S. practitioners also had walked from as far away as New York and Boston, while some had ridden bicycles from Florida.
Seventy-three-year-old Mrs. Chen walked all the way from New York to Washington D.C. Mrs. Chen said, "We walked across seven states. From New York to Washington D.C. is 250 miles. On our way to Washington D.C., we clarified the truth to broad segments of the American people. We distributed many flyers and had contact with many media. It was all voluntary; no one asked us to do this. It was also at our own expense. Sometimes, if there was a practitioner's home on our way, we would rest there for a night; otherwise, we would stay in hotels."
Falun Gong Practitioners Share Personal Bitter Experiences of Persecution
The press conference was held on the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Those giving speeches included many Representatives and Senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties, directors of human rights organizations such as Freedom House and Amnesty International, and other groups such as the National Organization for Woman (NOW).
Also speaking were several practitioners who have either personally experienced the persecution or whose relatives have been persecuted. Amy Lee, who used to work in Guangzhou City, was not only detained for practicing Falun Gong, but also lost her happy family. She said, "I used to have a very happy family. I was a mother, a wife and had a successful career as a clothing designer. But since Jiang Zemin's suppression of Falun Gong in 1999, I lost all of these things. Because I firmly adhered to my belief, they detained me many times and forced me to work hard labor for 15~16 hours every day. They forced me into brainwashing classes many times to torture me mentally." Amy's husband does not practice Falun Gong and he divorced her due to pressure he received from higher-level officials and the Public Security Bureau. Finally, Amy came to the United States with the help of some kind-hearted people.
Another Falun Gong practitioner, Chen Ying, came to the United States in 1988. Under the influence of her mother and younger brother, she began to practice Falun Gong. She said that after Falun Gong was banned in China, her brother Chen Gang was often detained for no reason and also sent to brainwashing classes. "On June 25 of last year, at 1:00 o'clock in the morning, about 17 or 18 policemen suddenly came to the family's residence in Beijing, and dragged my brother and mother out of their beds. My mother was detained for 30 days, while my brother was subsequently sent to the Tuanhe Labor Camp in the suburbs of Beijing. According to labor camp policies, Falun Gong practitioners who refuse to renounce their beliefs are put under enormous pressure. My brother was at one point not allowed to sleep for more than 10 consecutive days. Later we learned that some time around April of this year, he was badly beaten by a group of people there. They tied him up tightly with his head touching his feet, then left him under a bed after they were through beating him."
Numerous U.S. Legislators Support Falun Gong
At the press conference, Florida Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen said, "The only alleged crime of Falun Gong is hoping to follow their beliefs, and not accepting the suppression, not accepting the threats. I formally raised the H. Con. Res. 188 last night, and more than 30 members of the House of Representatives have asked the Chinese government to stop the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners."