An Eyewitness Describes the Tianjin Incident Which Triggered the “April 25 Appeal”
(Minghui.org) On April 25, 1999, Falun Gong practitioners collectively appealed at Zhongnanhai (the official Chinese Communist Party and central government compound in Beijing) to ask the government to stop its escalating harassment towards the practice, including the arrest of practitioners in Tianjin. This incident shocked people at home and abroad. I am a Falun Gong practitioner from Tianjin and I would like to share some facts about what I witnessed at Tianjin, just prior to April 25, 1999, which led to the gathering at Zhongnanhai.
He Zuoxiu had written an article entitled, “I Am Not in Favor of Young People Practicing Falun Gong”, which was published in the Youth Magazine. The article contained untruthful statements defaming Falun Gong; therefore, practitioners from Tianjin took the initiative to write letters to the Chief Editor, Zhang Shaolu, of the Tianjin Education Institute. Practitioners were told that the person in charge of the Tianjin Education Institute had agreed to remove He's article and apologize to them in public. The practitioners felt that they had achieved a good outcome. However, people from the Institute suddenly changed their minds and reneged on their earlier agreement. On April 22, many practitioners went to the Institute hoping to reflect the true situation, and allow those at the Institute to have a correct understanding of what Falun Gong was about and correct their stance on He's article.
On April 22, I heard that people had gone to the Tianjin Educational Institute and decided to go there myself. When I arrived, I saw practitioners quietly standing in the courtyard. After a while, with more and more practitioners arriving, the courtyard became full. It was estimated that there were 6,000 practitioners there. Nobody wanted to leave, so we began to study the Fa, share with each other and do the exercises. I was at the Institute from April 22 to 24.
While in the Institute courtyard, it suddenly began to pour down rain. We didn’t panic, only some practitioners covered themselves with their clothes so as not to get their books wet. We all stood in the rain quietly. Seeing this scene, passersby were very touched. Soon enough, all of us were soaked, but still, no one wanted to leave. After a while, it became windy and our soaked clothes dried very quickly, then the sun came out again.
For these couple of days, practitioners from other cities and counties also came to Tianjin. As some of them lived quite a distance from the city, practitioners who lived in the city offered them food for free. When we were all together, we kept encouraging each other.
On April 24, police officers arrived at the Tianjin Education Institute and asked everyone to leave. The practitioners had not received a reply from the Education Institute and so were reluctant to leave. That evening, more than 100 police suddenly rushed in. Among them was a leader holding a loud-speaker and shouting: “Quickly leave this place, we are clearing the field now!” At that time, we didn't know what was going on, so we started reciting “Lun Yu” from Zhuan Falun out loud. Our voices penetrated the entire Education Institute. At about 8 p.m., a large number of police officers began to beat and arrest practitioners. At that time, I was sitting in the lotus position on the stairs of the main building. I could see that there were red round dots and people moving on the other side of the building, and they were shooting at us from there.
At that time, the courtyard was a mess. Police officers brutally drove practitioners away, regardless of whether they were young or old. They dragged and pulled practitioners at will and with force. Without anything being said, five to six police officers came toward me and kicked me. As a result, I fell from the 6th stair, and then they stomped on me and kicked me. Two police officers then pulled my legs and dragged and pushed me into a vehicle. As I was only wearing a shirt when they were dragging me, my back kept scraping along the ground. Seeing this, one police officer passing by said to them: “Don't drag him too hard.” Another two police officers arrived, pulled my arms and lifted me up off the ground. After I was dragged for another 10 meters they put me into a police van which drove away.
Despite what had happened, my mind was very clear. I realized I got squeezed in-between two seats. After a short while, the police car stopped, but I refused to get out. One police officer who was in the van kicked and punched me and forced me to get out. At that time, there were also other practitioners in the van. I stood up and yelled: “Is what you are doing acceptable behavior for a human being?” On hearing this, a police officer in his forties said: “Stop it!” They did stop and proceeded to push me into the police station with a hood over my head. I was at the Simianzhong Police Station in Heping District, Tianjin.
The police officers were taking notes of what I was saying. One of them asked: “Do you admit that you are wrong?” I replied: “No.” Then he asked another question: “If you were not wrong, why were there so many of you going there to cause trouble.” I replied: “We are there to reflect the situation.” He asked me: “Why don't you go to Zhongnanhai?” I replied: “Why should we go to Zhongnanhai?” He asked: “Do you dare to go there?” I didn't say anything. They held us at the police station until 2 a.m. on the 25th and then released us. Other practitioners who were also held at the police station said that they too were asked why we didn't go to Zhongnanhai.
Another practitioner and I walked out of the police station with bare feet, and as it was very late, we decided to stay at a practitioner's home. I was very tired and soon fell asleep. Next day, after I got home, a practitioner said to me: Most of the practitioners who were forced to leave the Institute did not go home, they went to the municipal government to reflect our situation. They also demanded the release of all practitioners. When I heard this, I took a cab and went to the municipal government, without realizing that other practitioners were going to Zhongnanhai.
There was a lady who appeared to be a journalist asking: “Who was beaten yesterday, can someone help find those people?” I happened to hear what she said and responded: “I was.” I pulled up my shirt and let them see my back, which was badly bruised. Seeing my back, they were quite shocked, so the lady took me to see an assistant from the exercise site. After she talked to the assistant, she took me to see a person in charge of the Tianjin City Police Bureau. I showed him the bruises. He didn’t have much to say about my wounds.
Later, this practitioner said: “People from the municipal government told practitioners that they can't do anything about our matter either, and if you want to reflect your situation, you have to go to Beijing [to appeal to the central government].” It wasn’t until later that I heard that many practitioners had indeed gone to Zhongnanhai to appeal to the central government.
Later, I saw on the TV news that a representative from the Tianjin Police Bureau said that nobody had been beaten or arrested in Tianjin. I suddenly understood that this was a lie. They were trying to deceive practitioners and they had plotted the plan to encourage practitioners to go to Zhongnanhai.
On reflecting on the Tianjin incident, from the Chief Editor from Tianjin Education Institute offering an open apology then retracting it, to police officers taking down notes and asking: “Do you dare to go to Zhongnanhai?”, to the person from the municipal government saying: “We cannot take care of this matter, you have to go to Beijing,” one can easily see that it was the evil head and his people directing practitioners to go to Beijing, where the incident would catch a lot of worldwide attention, with the motivation behind it to find an excuse to persecute Falun Gong. This is the Tianjin incident that I personally have witnessed.
The truth behind the peaceful “April 25 Appeal” is that despite the tyranny and Jiang's regime plotting against them, practitioners were merely trying to stay true to their conscience, safeguard their right to be good people, and behave in an upright manner. They only wanted to uphold justice and the freedom to follow their belief.