April 25, 1999: Courageous Appeal Sought to Prevent Persecution
(Minghui.org) On April 25, 1999, over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered peacefully in Beijing to appeal for the restoration of their right to practice Falun Gong. The peaceful appeal was an opportunity for the Chinese regime to get to know Falun Gong, to learn what kind of people the practitioners were, and to understand what they wanted. Far from being a cause for persecution, the appeal was an attempt to prevent any persecution from taking place. Practitioners initiated this large-scale event spontaneously, without any central organization.
After the practitioners quietly arrived in Beijing, several were able to meet with high-ranking officials from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to discuss their concerns. However, the CCP has intentionally hid the answer to the key question about the "April 25" event: Why did the Falun Gong practitioners appeal? The practitioners requested three things during their conversation with government officials: 1) the release of the innocent Falun Gong practitioners who had been arrested two days earlier in Tianjin, 2) the assurance of a fair and just cultivation environment for Falun Gong, and 3) permission for Falun Gong books to once again be published through normal channels.
From these three simple requests, one can see that the environment for practicing Falun Gong had already been compromised by the leadership in Beijing well before April 25, 1999. In fact, the CCP Central Propaganda Ministry and the Public Security Ministry had begun to level systematic attacks in the media against this traditional cultivation practice, and the first stage of the persecution of Falun Gong had already begun. Falun Gong practitioners believed that if they did not step forward to safeguard their cultivation environment and their constitutional rights, the situation would have quickly deteriorated.
Over 10,000 practitioners took part in the appeal. Some might ask if that was too many people. At that time, there were seventy to one hundred million Falun Gong practitioners in China alone, so it is not surprising that 10,000 practitioners would show up in Beijing to voice their concern. If this event had been organized and promoted more widely, it is very likely that a million practitioners would have gone to Beijing. But Falun Gong practitioners did not use an organized method to encourage more to go, because all Falun Gong activities are voluntary; there are no registration rosters or name lists, and one is free to come or go as one wishes.
Many of the practitioners who assembled in Beijing on April 25, 1999 were retired citizens who had lived through the Cultural Revolution. Even the younger practitioners had known of the 1989 June Fourth Tiananmen Massacre. Yet they calmly stood up to ask for fair treatment from the party leadership, clearly knowing the possible consequences of dealing with the CCP. Exactly what enabled them to step forward?
The answer is simple: after cultivating Falun Gong, these practitioners were genuinely striving to become better people and to discipline themselves according to Falun Gong's principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. Many practitioners thought, "We are only trying to be good people. We do not want any political power. We only want to practice according to our conscience." Based on this pure thought, practitioners put down their fear of possible CCP reprisals and went to Beijing to appeal in an open and dignified manner. They requested that the government give them an environment to practice Falun Gong openly, and asked the CCP leadership to stop slandering the practice and harassing practitioners.
Sadly, under the CCP's totalitarian rule, such a reasonable request was too much to wish for.
If we look at the integrity crisis in today's China, the past ten-plus years have witnessed a rapid decline in morality. This is the direct result of the persecution of Falun Gong. Faith and belief have become controversial subjects. On the surface, activities at temples are open and popular, but the activities there have deviated from the fundamental nature of religious activities. Ending the persecution of Falun Gong and allowing people their freedom of belief and their right to believe in Truth-Compassion-Forbearance is China's only way out.
Category: Peaceful Appeal of April 25, 1999