Some Quick Facts about the Peaceful Appeal in Beijing on April 25, 1999
(Clearwisdom.net) Editor's note: To commemorate the twelfth anniversary of the April 25 Appeal, Clearwisdom presents this as one of a series of republished articles from years past. The April 25th Appeal was notable not only for its size, but also because it was remarkably peaceful and orderly. Some 10,000 practitioners gathered in central Beijing that day, peacefully protesting for their civil rights. The CCP propaganda machine, however, in its quest to crush Falun Gong at the bidding of then Party Chairman Jiang Zemin, twisted the facts to serve its own motives. To this day, CCP propaganda accuses Falun Gong of "laying siege to the Zhongnanhai Central Government Compound" on April 25, 1999, falsely alleging that the 10,000 gathered posed a violent threat to the nation and its leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as this series of articles documents from various angles.
Why did Falun Gong practitioners appeal?
The Tianjin Police had arrested some 45 practitioners who went to clarify the truth to a magazine publisher about an article that slandered Falun Gong. Tianjin police told the practitioners to take their appeal to Beijing, to the State Appeals Office adjacent to the Zhongnanhai central government compound. They did exactly this.
Why did practitioners appeal to the Central Committee?
As early as June of 1996, the Propaganda Ministry of the Central Committee instructed various levels of government to criticize Falun Gong. Guangming Daily News launched the first attack with the article "Alarm Bell Keeps Ringing." The News Publishing Bureau subsequently prohibited the publishing, distribution and sale of Falun Gong books. Before April 25, police all over had already begun to seize Falun Gong books, and interfere with group practices. The arrest of practitioners by the Tianjin Police was an escalation of the persecution. The problem had already reached the point it could not have been resolved without the intervention of high-level leadership from the Central Committee.
How many people went to appeal on April 25?
From Beihai Park's South Gate to the west side of the Xi'an Gate, and from Fuyou Street to the alley west of it--in these two places alone, there were thirty thousand people. Practitioners that came later were stopped on the outer peripheries. Practitioners from out of town were not allowed to leave the train stations, or were blocked at highway checkpoints and not allowed to get into Beijing. The Chinese government only acknowledged the greatly reduced figure of ten thousand, but the actual number far exceeded that.
What did the practitioners who appealed ask for?
There were three requests at the time:
1. for the Tianjin police to release the Falun Gong practitioners who were taken into custody.
2. that Falun Gong practitioners be accorded a non-hostile environment in which to practice.
3. that the printing of Falun Gong books be permitted.
How did the appealers conduct themselves?
The Beihai Park to the Xi'an gate is a main thoroughfare. Traffic flowed through smoothly all day long. Some practitioners took the initiative to ensure the smooth flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The practitioners walked alongside the edge of the road, allowing pedestrians to use the sidewalk. They were calm and peaceful.
How did the appeal end?
At around 10 p.m., a message came from the West Gate of Zhongnanhai: "The representatives have returned, and they have conveyed the practitioners' requests to the leaders of the Central Committee. All practitioners arrested by Tianjin police have been released. Everybody can now go home." The practitioners cleaned up their surroundings, even picking up the cigarette butts dropped by the police. In less than 20 minutes, all the practitioners had left.
One unsettled case:
Prime Minister Zhu Rongji asked the representatives at the time if they had ever read his commentary on Falun Gong. The Falun Gong representatives said they had never seen it. Many people wondered who had withheld the commentary, and how it was withheld. This remains unknown to this day.