Recalling the "April 25" Peaceful Appeal of 10,000 Practitioners (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) More than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners voluntarily went to Beijing to peacefully petition at the Appeals Office of the State Council on April 25, 1999. It caused a great sensation inside and outside of China, and is known as the largest and most peaceful and rational appeal in Chinese history. The entire process was peaceful, harmonious, and orderly. The international community gave the practitioners high marks for pure kindness and upholding of their righteous belief.
Twelve years have passed, but there are still some people in China who are gullible to the Chinese Communist Party's rumors and slander. What was the true situation then? Let's go back to April 1999 and see what had really happened.
Scenes from the April 25th peaceful appeal
Real Causes for Appeal
Since Falun Gong was first introduced to the public in 1992, its principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and its tremendous effect on healing illnesses rapidly became known across China, benefiting many. But it also caught the attention of individual political opportunists among the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) high-ranking officials. In 1996 Guangming Daily published an article criticizing the Falun Gong books Zhuan Falun and Falun Gong, that were among the top-ten best sellers at the time, as "Pseudoscience." In 1997, Central Political and Judiciary Committee secretary Luo Gan ordered the Ministry of Public Security to conduct a national investigation, in an attempt to find "evidence" to ban Falun Gong. Reports from police departments nationwide found no problems. But Luo's brother-in-law He Zuoxiu continuously published articles that framed and slandered Falun Gong.
He Zuoxiu published an article entitled "I am against youngsters practicing Falun Gong" in the Journal of Tianjin Institute of Education on April 11, 1999. The article used base and shameless means to attack Falun Gong with fabricated stories, slander, and false accusations, and vilified Falun Gong and its founder. Practitioners in Tianjin went to the journal's editorial office to clarify the facts. Tianjin Police Department officials dispatched riot police, to beat and arrest 45 practitioners. Police department officials and those from the Tianjin Municipality told the practitioners, "We cannot take responsibility for this matter. Go to Beijing, the Ministry of Public Security already knows about this."
From the evening of April 24 to April 25, practitioners from around the country who had learned of the incident went to the State Council's Appeals Office in Beijing, to peacefully report and clarify the facts to the government in good faith.
Ms. Li, who currently resides in Ottawa, is from Beijing. She participated in the April 25th appeal twelve years ago and recalls, “We thought it was a serious issue. Since the police arrested practitioners in Tianjin, they would then arrest practitioners in Beijing or Shanghai. I discussed the issue with two practitioners. We felt that only the central government could resolve the issue, so we decided to appeal. We only wished to have a non-threatening practice environment.” (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2009/4/26/106821.html)
Some people may ask: Did Falun Gong practitioners who reflected the situation to the Tianjin Institute of Education speak violent words, act violently, or show aggressive behavior? Otherwise, why did the Tianjin Police Department dispatch riot police? The truth is, the practitioners had remained peaceful and rational the entire time, according to a high school senior teacher who was an eyewitness to the whole process. She was at the Tianjin Institute of Education attending a class on April 21 or 22 and saw many people sitting at the front entrance. All were quiet, and no one spoke. After her class she saw these people lining up for the washrooms. Some of the participants who attended the class came as well. She heard a person already in line say, "Let's go elsewhere and not get in the way of these people from the class." They then went to the washrooms further away, vacating the line for those who came later.
This schoolteacher thought to herself, "It's extremely rare nowadays to see people being so considerate, and I admire them for that." She learned later on that the people were Falun Gong practitioners. (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2004/6/9/49040.html)
Falun Gong Practitioners: Everyone Wants to Go
Falun Gong practitioners are a cultivation practice group without any organization. Those who participated in the April 25 peaceful appeal were there voluntarily, of their own will. With so many practitioners, everyone wanted to go, and the resulting turnout was more than 10,000.
Many more practitioners hadn't learned about the appeal. A young practitioner recalled, "That day, an aunt told me that she was going to Zhongnanhai the next day to appeal. I was a student at the time. I didn't fully understand what the appeal meant, so I asked her. She said that a magazine in Tianjin published an article slandering Falun Gong and claimed it was harmful to young people. Practitioners in Tianjin went to the publisher to set the record straight. Several dozen practitioners were beaten and arrested. When practitioners went to ask them to release those arrested, but the Tianjin authorities said it was out of their hands, and that practitioners would have to appeal in Beijing. So the practitioners went to Beijing to let the government know the benefits of practicing Falun Gong and ask for the release of the practitioners. At the time I thought that as a young practitioner I should tell the government of my own experience and let them know that Falun Gong was good. So I asked the auntie how to get there. She said the next morning they would take the subway and asked me to meet her there. I went to ask one of my classmates, and she decided to go with me."
"The next day I saw many practitioners at the subway entrance. I followed them and reached the west gate of Zhongnanhai. The office was closed when we got there. So we stood outside and waited. The police came over to question us. We told them that we were Falun Gong practitioners who were there to appeal. So they sent us to the other side of the street (across the West Gate) and had us wait there. At that point I naively thought that the issue would be resolved. Practitioners in my hometown complained that I didn't tell them about the appeal. I told them that we didn't realize the severity of the issue. The CCP always said that we were organized. If we were truly organized, a lot more practitioners would have been there. As it was, there were more than 10,000 practitioners from my city that didn't know about the appeal." (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2009/5/2/106997.html)
Scenes of Peaceful and Orderly Appealing
The scenes of the more than 10,000 practitioners appealing were quiet, peaceful, and rational. Police officers didn't need to maintain order but stood aside, chatting. At 9:00 p.m. that same night, after the 45 practitioners who had been arrested in Tianjin were released, all practitioners left quietly. During the entire process no one shouted slogans, or held up posters. When they left, not a single trace of litter was left on the ground. Actually, these are natural manifestations of Falun Gong practitioners cultivating Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, to be better people.
A practitioner from Beijing recalled, “I arrived at the south end of Fuyou Street in Beijing at around 8:00 a.m. on April 25. A few practitioners and I walked along the footpath on the east side of the street toward the north, hoping to go to the west entrance of the State Council compound, to directly report the incident to the reception office. When we were about three or four hundred meters from the west entrance of the State Council, a young lady walked out from a group of people standing on the west side of the street. She crossed the street, walked toward us, and asked us with a smile, 'May I know if you are fellow practitioners who have come to appeal?' I didn't say anything for fear that she would stop us. One practitioner who came with us said to her, 'We are from the xx district. We are here to appeal.' The young lady said, 'If that is the case, then please join us in the group.' This practitioner from Beijing said, 'We will go to the reception office of the State Council to report the situation. We didn't come to stand in a group.' The young lady said, 'I understand how you feel. Now that we are here, we are one body. We have all come for the same purpose. We have the same Master and cultivate the same Fa. We need to consider Dafa and the image as one body, and must not let bad people take advantage of any loophole.' This practitioner from Beijing immediately said, 'Yes, you are right.' We followed her and joined the group of appealing practitioners.”
“The number of practitioners increased rapidly," recalled the practitioner, "At that point some people suggested that we let the young people stand in the front four rows so that the elderly practitioners could sit down in the back. It was a very touching scene to see practitioners showing such respect for each other. From time to time there was a reminder passed along from the front rows: Please keep quiet and try not to move about too much. One young man was holding a poster board that read, "Quiet! Do not move about." He walked quietly back and forth in the gathering. After lunch there was much litter that needed to be taken away. A few older practitioners bought large black bags and walked around to collect the litter and put it in the rubbish bins along the roadside. However, most practitioners put their litter in their own bags. People picked up every piece of litter near them, even cigarette butts that the police had thrown down. When passersby saw this they said admiringly, "Falun Gong is truly a field of pure land." (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/4/22/116249.html)
Appealing practitioners remained quiet and in good order
Then Premier Zhu Rongji received the Falun Gong representatives.
Mr. Shi Caidong, who currently resides in the U.S., was studying for his PhD degree at the Chinese Academy of Science when the April 25 appeal happened. He personally experienced the appeal and recalled that he heard about the Tianjin incident the evening of April 24. Ms. Li from their practice site told the practitioners to decide on their own if they wanted to go to appeal.
Mr. Shi arrived at the north end of Fuyou Street at 7:30 a.m. on April 25. He saw that many practitioners had lined up neatly and quietly on both sides of the streets. While walking further down the street he heard low but enthusiastic applause. He turned to take a look and saw Zhu Rongji a few meters away, walking from the west gate of Zhongnanhai across the street to go to work. Practitioners were very happy and wanted to approach him to explain the situation. At that moment a practitioner reminded everyone to stay put and maintain good order. Zhu Rongji learned that Falun Gong practitioners came to appeal and asked the practitioners to designate some representatives to talk with him. However, Falun Gong practitioners had all come spontaneously and most of the practitioners did not even know each other, and had never thought about designating representatives. Mr. Shi was about two meters from Zhu Rongji, so he voluntarily presented himself as a "representative." Zhu Rongji pointed out two other practitioners who stood up.
Each of the three "representatives" spoke of things they knew, and requested the release of the practitioners who were arrested in Tianjin. They also asked that permission be granted to allow open and public publication of Zhuan Falun. The officials in charge of receiving the practitioners' representatives realized that the three practitioners were not designated representatives who were prepared to negotiate. He asked if they could find two persons in charge. Since there is no person in charge among Falun Gong practitioners, Mr. Shi went out and randomly found a veteran practitioner to act as a "representative" and go inside to talk with the officials. (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2008/4/24/96691.html)
Another practitioner in Beijing recalled, “While we waited, I remember a few groups of representatives were called into the reception office of the State Council. Once, when a representative came out, he said, "We need practitioners who specialize in law. Those inside do not have much legal knowledge. We need law-professional practitioners." Another time a representative came out and said, "We don't have any practitioners from the Falun Dafa Research Association. State Council officials require that we have responsible people among the representatives." He said if anyone knew Wang Zhiwen or the head of the general practice site to please call them, to come straight here. Otherwise the State Council would not receive us.” (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/4/22/116249.html)
That same day, Premier Zhu ordered the Tianjin police to release Falun Gong practitioners, and reaffirmed the policy that the government would not interfere with any form of qigong practice. At around nine o'clock in the evening the practitioners learned the news and quietly left, without making any noise but their light foot-steps. Everyone checked if they had left any trash on the ground, and picked it up if they found any. By the time they left, there wasn't a single piece of paper on the ground. The practitioners left the area impeccably clean. A practitioner recalled, "Looking at the tidy ground under the light, I picked up a disposable chopstick that had been missed. My tears flowed. A huge crowd had stayed there for such a long time, but was gone without a trace of their presence, leaving the place spotless. I had never seen anything like this! A police officer pointed at the ground and exclaimed to other officers, "Look at this! What is virtue? This is! This is what is called virtue!" (References http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/4/30/116560.html
Insidious Dark Current
In the second half of 1998, several retired officials from the National People's Congress, led by Qiao Shi, did a detailed investigation on Falun Gong and reached the conclusion that practicing Falun Gong offers only benefits and does no harm. At the end of the year, they presented to the Central Politburo their report. On April 25, 1999, then Premier Zhu Rongji received representatives of Falun Gong practitioners and reaffirmed the policy that the government would not interfere in any form of qigong practice. However, Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan were conceiving a conspiracy in the dark.
Among articles written by practitioners that have been published on the Minghui/Clearwisdom website in the past years, in those articles about witnessing the April 25 Appeal, practitioners from many different places mentioned that the police directed the crowd of people who were appealing to encircle Zhongnanhai. One practitioner recalled, "Initially, practitioners gathered in front of the State Council Appeals Office, which is located on Fuyou Street. Later, several armed police officers came and told these practitioners that it was not safe there, and they were not allowed to be there. The practitioners then followed the guidance of the police. The police led practitioners from Xi'anmen Boulevard to go south. On the other side of Fuyou Street, the police led practitioners to go north on Fuyou Street. The two groups met in front of the west entrance of Zhongnanhai. Thus, with guidance from the armed police, Falun Gong practitioners were separated into two groups and were led to encircle the Zhongnanhai area. This is the so-called "besieging Zhongnanhai," as the regime called it, a term which has been used to deceive the Chinese people. (http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2009/5/5/107080.html)
Ms. Li Bin, who resides in the U.S., went to Beijing to look for a job just after her graduation from a research institute at that time. She happened to experience the April 25 appeal and said, "More and more practitioners came. We still didn't know where the Appeals Office was. Police officers later approached and ordered us to follow them. With pure hearts, practitioners didn't think much about this but followed the police. I had just arrived in Beijing and was unfamiliar with the roads. But I did remember that the police led us to a place across street from the red wall [around the Zhongnanhai compound]. There were police everywhere, and they led us to encircle the Appeals Office. Looking back, it was obvious that this was a CCP set-up, to lead us into a situation which made it appear as if Zhongnanhai was encircled." (Reference: http://www.clearwisdom.net/html/articles/2010/5/3/116646.html)
Schematic drawing of the positions of practitioners near Zhongnanhai on April 25, 1999. The yellow symbol shows the position of the crowd.
In addition, special agents had been active and taken all kinds of opportunities to undermine the peaceful crowd of petitioners. They attempted to stir up trouble, but rational practitioners ultimately saw through them.
One practitioner recalled, "I went along Chang'an Avenue westward to find a toilet, and suddenly saw a very fashionably-dressed young woman with permed hair and red lipstick. She also wore a Falun emblem on her chest. She was taking photos of cars with car plates from outside Beijing parked in front of each workplace. I was quite puzzled: Why doesn't this Falun Gong practitioner stand on Fuyou Street with the others, instead of here? Also, her dress was unlike the way practitioners would dress. Dafa practitioners are usually simply dressed, and are not so flirtatious. What on earth is she? When I went back to Fuyou Street I saw the woman again, still wearing a Falun emblem on her chest, and there was a copy of Zhuan Falun in her hand. She had changed into wearing a jersey. She was inciting practitioners to shout slogans. Participants ignored her. I was taken aback. She turned out to be a special agent."
The sincerity and kindness of Falun Gong practitioners during the April 25 Appeal, along with their high sense of self-discipline which enables them to always think of others, moved the people and eliminated a potential conflict that Luo Gan and others had deliberately created. The practitioners also impressed the world. People of all countries began to notice this extraordinary practice group. Regardless of how the Chinese Communist Party has distorted the facts, the lies will eventually be exposed. What Falun Gong practitioners leave behind is always the brilliance of upholding their righteous belief.