The Glorious "April 25"
This article was first published in May 2000.
Looking back on "April 25" on its anniversary, I can feel my heart is still throbbing with excitement over its majesty. As a participant, every bit of what happened on that day seemed so ordinary and natural at that time. Hardly did I ever imagine that this ordinary day would become the focal point of all the subsequent events in the past year, and that it would attract world attention and go down into history.
That morning, after finishing the moving exercises, the assistant at our practice site gave us a detailed briefing on the cause and the current situation of the Tianjing incidence. Up until then, the forty or so practitioners illegally detained in Tianjing had not yet been released. We were planning to make an appeal. Then, the assistant emphasized for several times that appealing would be completely voluntary, and the assistance center had no such requirements. Besides, we should treat the Law as our teacher and do what we feel is right. I thought that appealing is a way to communicate with the government directly and reflect the truth about Falun Gong to the government peacefully; hopefully, these efforts would lead to a just resolution through investigation and verification. At that time, the Tianjing incident had already gone into its fifth day, and the Tianjing police had openly beaten and arrested Falun Gong practitioners. The situation was very urgent, and writing petitions for the government to resolve it would not work in the short term-especially after we had continuously done that in the past few years with no response at all. I also believed that the central government, unlike some local governments, would abide by its constitution and laws. So, along with some other practitioners, off I went to Zhong Nan Hai.
When the No. 107 trolley bus passed the Beihai Bridge (in downtown Beijing), we noticed more and more people on the sidewalks. Riding to Fuyou Street, we saw the sidewalk on the west was already filled with people. The throng extended eastward to Beihai and westward to Dingzi Intersection. I couldn't help but feel ashamed: we are late! Getting off the bus, we saw some practitioners voluntarily guiding traffic and keeping order, repeating over and over to the pedestrians and bicycle riders: please do not stop, please do not stop. We could tell that many practitioners were from outside Beijing. They were obviously travel-worn from their overnight journey. There were also some farmers from nearby counties doing the sitting exercise by the road. My heart moved at this sight and tears rushed to my eyes: cultivation is truly NOT easy; not only do the cultivators have to overcome the tribulations caused by their own karma, they have to also overcome the various obstructions and difficulties arising from the misunderstandings of everyday people. But it is precisely because of this difficulty that we can attain complete purification and surpass everything in the world. It is also through overcoming this difficulty that the great and mighty implications of cultivation manifest. Thinking of this, I made an effort to calm down and tried to find a standing spot for myself.
There was no space left on the Fuyou Street, so we walked towards the east along the Xianmen Street. Along the inner side of the sidewalks, the practitioners stood shoulder to shoulder. They lined up in three or four rows, leaving unoccupied about two thirds of the sidewalks; so throughout the day, a smooth flow of traffic never stopped. We walked in that direction for another one hundred meters, and stopped at an entrance of a unit. The line was broken there (to clear the way for visitors and employees of that company). We saw some room left, so we squeezed in. It was then 8:30AM.
Everyone stood quietly with a smile and tranquility. There was no chatting, herding, or striking a talk with pedestrians. Some curious passersby would stop to ask what was going on. Their inquiries were answered with our smile and polite requests for not stopping, as it could not be explained in one or two sentences. If one stopped to chat, soon there would be many, then the whole situation would change. We were all very clear that as cultivators, we have no intention of interfering with worldly affairs, since we only want to clear the name of our cultivation, and ask for a legitimate cultivation environment. We are not against the government, nor will we interfere with the politics. Even a single ambiguous sentence could be taken advantage of by people with ulterior motives. The situation was so urgent that we could not afford to make any mistakes. A tiny mistake would complicate the situation, make trouble for the Great Law and bring more tribulations for the practitioners.
In a continual stream, more and more people were coming. The line filled the Fuyou Street, which goes two kilometers to the north and south. The south end reached Changan Street, and the north end intersected with Xianmen Street, then turned to the east and almost reached Beihai. Looking towards the west, we couldn't see the end of the line either. However, except for the police and guards, there were no practitioners on the sidewalk right next to the wall of Zhong Nan Hai .
Some practitioners told me that Premier Zhu Rongji had come out at 9:45AM and personally invited a few practitioners as representatives to go in and have a discussion. A group of representatives came out and another group went in. An hour passed and then another hour. Everyone waited quietly, no irritation, no uneasiness, no complains and no slackness. There were only the mutual caring, understanding, encouragement and reminding. Looking around, our lines were neat and clean.
When the practitioners on the front row stood for too long, the practitioners at the back would voluntarily ask to swap positions so that the practitioners at the front could relax for a while. For elders, they could sit at the back to take some rest. Behind us were some short iron fences separating the grass from the road. We all sat on the ground instead of on the fences to avoid causing damage to the public properties. Some practitioners stayed at the front from the beginning to the end without exchanging position. When it was mealtime, the practitioners took turns to buy food so that the line would stay neat and clean. West of the Fuyou Street consists of alleys for city dwellers. There are public washrooms every several hundred meters. When too many people had the need to use the washrooms, they waited in queues without congestion or quarrel. At the meal, everyone took care to put the garbage into plastic bags. Moreover, there was a practitioner collecting garbage from time to time, walking along the road with a plastic bag. As a result, the road was clean from the beginning to the end.
Other practitioners told me the narrow Fuyou Street had many practitioners. They stood extremely tight, with over a hundred people between two trees. If anyone moved his feet slightly, he would no longer be able to come back in. Therefore, the practitioners there stood from early morning to the night (some practitioners from outside Beijing came as early as 4AM that morning), with no food or water. They could not use the washroom either. Among them was a 3-year old child quietly standing by his mother-also for over ten hours.
People can not help but marvel: What a special group these people are! They stood there in clean and tidy dress, with a ready smile, nothing in hand, and strangers to each other. The young fellow next to me came from Shi Jia Zhuang. He wore a suit and a tie, standing there with ease and patience. On everyday people's mind, people coming to appeal must be someone in rags, who are grumpy, most likely depressed, exhausted, and with spouse and kids tugging behind. Yet, we Falun Dafa practitioners are quite different. Although we are cultivating among everyday people today-in a way consistent with their formalities-our action holds totally different implications. There, the profound implications of "Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance" filled up Zhong Nan Hai for the whole "April 25", which brought changes to everything around. Gradually, the police became less vigilant, starting to chat or take a nap in their vehicles. The garbage collectors pulled the cart over along the road helping us to put the garbage into the cart. Our tranquility brought serenity everywhere.
After 10PM, the news was passed down from the front that the last batch of representatives had come out with the arrested practitioners in Tianjing having been released and the problems resolved properly. So we were all ready to go home happily. We immediately cleaned up the place, bagging all the trash and putting them besides the garbage can. Some went home by bike; some made their way to the railway station. The public transportation service was very cooperative that day. They quickly dispatched many buses and arranged people to get onto them. We stood at the end of the line so that the practitioners living further away could go first. Every bus was full, since all the practitioners tried to stand tight together so that more practitioners could come aboard. Within about half an hour, all the practitioners were gone. When I looked around, I saw the road empty and very clean-as if there had never been that many people.
The next day when I went to the park to do the exercises, I heard a tourist saying nearby: see how great these Falun Gong practitioners are, and how sensible the government is-the problems have all been resolved. Later, the TV stations broadcast the public notice that doing exercises had never been prohibited and everyone was free to practice. They also passed on the document #27. Everything quickly came back to normal: we continued with our collective practice and study, and went out to spread the virtuous teachings over the weekends.
One year has passed in a twinkling. Since then, the world has witnessed many earthshaking events. During the course of the time, righteousness and wickedness, good and evil all manifested together in the world. It doesn't matter how some people tried to defame Falun Gong; it doesn't matter how people appraise it; and it doesn't matter how the practitioners might have different understandings about it: the day of "April 25, 1999", will go down in history. On this day, over ten thousand Chinese Falun Dafa practitioners went to Zhong Nan Hai to present peacefully a petition to the government, requesting a legal status for Falun Dafa in China, as well as an elimination of the misunderstanding and a peaceful redress of the problems. Their sincerity and compassion became part of the great tolerant act that forever defines "April 25". At present or in the future, no matter at what moment in the history, or in which dimension of the universe, looking afar at "April 25", it will forever stand there tall and upright, shining with boundless radiance.
April 20, 2000
Category: Peaceful Appeal of April 25, 1999