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Reflections on April 25: Appealing for Human Rights Should Not Be Labeled "Being Involved in Politics" and Persecuted

April 29, 2005 |   By Li Zhiqing

(Clearwisdom.net) People who have been to Beijing are all impressed with the fact that most Beijing residents are good talkers. From taxi drivers to merchants in their stands, or elderly men on the streets, every Beijing resident can tell you stories on almost any topic, from Beijing history, to today's hot political news.

Once we understand this characteristic of Beijing residents, we may better understand what happened on April 25, 1999. We can clearly see through and disagree with the Chinese government's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners after the "April 25 Appeal." On that day, more than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to Beijing to peacefully appeal for Falun Gong. Soon after, the government labeled the participants of the appeal as being "involved in politics" and then started its large-scale persecution against Falun Gong.

No one would ever believe that all the Beijing residents who are so interested in talking about politics are "involved in politics." They are simply paying attention to the society and current affairs; it is part of their lives. They do not pursue any personal political power, nor do they have any intention of being politicians. Their talking about politics is not "politics" in the sense of being after power; rather it is Beijing residents' sense of responsibility and simply part of their lives. Politics is really such an ordinary part of everyone's life. Talking about politics could stem from an ideal, a behavior, or simply an entertainment topic after dinner. In the 21st century, paying attention to politics is not a crime.

If this is the case, then why do some people think that what Falun Gong practitioners do is criminal, and label their actions as being "involved in politics" simply because they talk about their cultivation and their spiritual life with each other, or because they appeal to the government due to the unfair treatments they suffer?

Falun Gong had been treated unfairly in China during the three years prior to 1999. Before April 25, 1999, Falun Gong was slandered by He Zuoxiu, and practitioners were illegally beaten and jailed in Tianjin City. Falun Gong practitioners simply appealing to request an unhindered cultivation environment. They did not have any political agenda, so how could they be "involved in politics"? Wouldn't it make a society unstable if people did not have any legal channels in which to express their voices? Shouldn't such a peaceful appeal be encouraged rather then persecuted?

As of today, there are at least 1,827 confirmed deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to the persecution. When Falun Gong practitioners sued the ringleader of this persecution in order to stop it, someone blamed them of being "involved in politics." For example, if a government official murdered your family member and you tried to disclose the crimes of that official or file a lawsuit against him, would you be "involved in politics?" When did "politics" become an excuse for persecution and murder? Is politics that terrible? Doesn't Chinese law provide citizens the privilege of participating in politics? How could exercising one's rights be committing a crime?

In Chinese tradition, "good scholars became politicians." Politics is a normal part of many people's lives. Many famous people in ancient China were also great politicians; no one would have thought that being a politician was bad. Many of us know Martin Luther King, Jr., the famous American civil rights movement leader. History has not blamed him for being "involved in politics." One the contrary, he received the Nobel Peace prize in 1964. Starting in 1986, the U.S. designated the third Monday in January as "Martin Luther King Day" in memory of this hero.

From this standpoint, "politics" is not anything to be ashamed or afraid of. From a normal society's political concept, Falun Gong practitioners' appeal should be part of people's normal lives, and it has nothing to do with "damaging social stability" or "subjugating the Chinese Communist Party and the nation."

People who follow along with the Chinese government and blame the innocent Falun Gong practitioners for being "involved in politics," please think about this carefully. What made us so sensitive to "politics" and why do we blindly criticize all people as being "involved in politics" and avoid being related to any "political action" like the plague? Why do we have to kneel down to live instead of standing up and straightening our backs like noble people? Did the past political movements make us so afraid of politics? Or has the long-term brainwashing made us lose our ability to tell right from wrong?

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a very famous speech called, "I have a Dream." He said, "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I believe that many Chinese people also have a similar dream. They dream that one day people will have the right to pursue their faith and spiritual beliefs, that one day politics will not be twisted into an excuse and tool for persecuting innocent people, and that one day appealing for one's human rights will not be labeled as "being involved in politics" and persecuted.

Today, six years after the "April 25 Appeal," this dream has become all the more important and urgent.

April 20, 2005