(Minghui.org) More than 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to the State Petitions Office in Beijing to appeal for freedom of belief on April 25 fourteen years ago. The international community called it the largest and most peaceful and rational appeal in the history of China, while Jiang’s faction in the Chinese Communist Party used it as an excuse to persecute Falun Gong.

The April 25 appeal was the first instance of Falun Gong practitioners protesting the persecution. Overseas commentators and Falun Gong practitioners recently shared their thoughts on that event.

"If I was in Beijing on April 25, 1999, I would have participated."

Ms. Zhang, a former clerk at the Beijing College of Textiles, immigrated to Canada at about the time of the April 25 appeal. When asked whether she would have participated if she were in Beijing then, she said, "Definitely."

She said, “When Falun Dafa was benefiting people both physically and mentally, so many people stood up to defend the truth on April 25. My father was an air force officer and was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. My whole family was forced to move to a remote area. I lived in an atmosphere of horror and instability. I sought the meaning of life. I found my true self after I began practicing Falun Dafa. My life became solid and happy. But the persecution changed all that.

“Seeing fellow practitioners being brutally tortured, I empathized with them. Along with cultivation, I started to think of others, as well as of those who were being deceived. I know the importance of truth clarification.”

Someone said that the number of people who appealed was too large, so the Party wanted to persecute us. Ms. Zhang said this was groundless.

“In Canada, citizens have rights. If you want to complain, you can go to court, the media, or the government. Citizens have a right to express their wishes, but have no right to interfere with others' rights. It is common sense in a normal society. In China, the only rational way to complain is to appeal. Everyone knows the brutality of the Communist Party. But Falun Gong practitioners went to Beijing to appeal peacefully and rationally, which showed that they trusted the government.

“Don’t ask, 'How many went?' Ask what they did. Practicing Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance--is there anything wrong with that? As beneficiaries, they spoke out when Falun Dafa was treated unfairly. They did nothing wrong. Is it right to arrest people for that? The practitioners went to appeal to tell the regime that the persecution was wrong and that the practitioners arrested should be released. For this issue, one person or ten thousand people may do it. It is legal. The number of people participating cannot be an excuse for persecution.

“Falun Gong practitioners have been protesting the persecution for 14 years. However brutal the persecution is or however large the sacrifices they have made, practitioners will continue to spread the facts peacefully and kindly to let the public make a choice of conscience.”

The “April 25 Appeal” and “Politics”

Someone said that Falun Gong participates in politics. Overseas commentator Wen Shao said, “The word 'politics' has no negative connotation. Managing public affairs is politics. If a group or a qigong organization is involved in social public affairs, that can be called politics. If you ban one practice of qigong, others have the right to practice another kind. It is legal and reasonable and cannot be used as a pretext for persecution.”

“Tolerance” and Protesting the Persecution

Someone said, “Falun Gong teaches 'tolerance.' Why do they not stay at home to practice like monks or religious followers? If you appeal, distribute flyers, and protest the persecution, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will persecute you.”

Wen Shao said, “The CCP attempted to persecute Falun Gong in 1996. After publishing an article in the Guangming Daily defaming Falun Gong, the CCP Ministry of Propaganda banned the publication of Falun Gong books. In 1997, the Ministry of Public Security dispatched spies to collect evidence in an attempt to frame Falun Gong, but failed. In May 1998, a Beijing TV station broadcast a defamatory report. In 1999, a trap was laid to get Falun Gong practitioners to appeal on April 25 to create a pretext for persecution. If it had not been successful, the Party would have continued to find a way to frame Falun Gong to persecute the practice. The CCP wants to control people’s thoughts, and persecutes those who do not conform to the CCP ideology. Actually, it wants to absolutely control people's thoughts.

“After so many years, the facts allow for mainstream Chinese people to realize that the Communist Party cannot represent truth and the people. Everyone knows the evil nature of the CCP. The Party persecutes Falun Gong by controlling the police, the judicial system, and all resources, which leads to the corruption of morality and damage to the ecosystem. Everyone is at an impasse.”

In his opinion, Falun Gong practitioners expose the persecution to stop criminal behavior and prevent more innocent people from being harmed. What they are doing is being responsible to and benefitting people. Practitioners are members of society and have the rights of citizens. When their rights are infringed upon, they have the right to appeal and protect their rights.

Protesting the Persecution of Falun Gong Should Be Universal

Some Chinese people are indifferent to the persecution of Falun Gong and some even say, “If I were Jiang Zemin, I would persecute Falun Gong, because too many of them is a threat to power.”

Wen Shao thought this was a strange idea based on maintaining a regime of killing. The media in China recently reported on the Masanjia Forced Labor Camp and methods of torture created by camp guards to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. Those tactics are now being used on human rights lawyers and people who appeal to upper level officials. Such forms of torture are also likely to be used on those whose ways of thinking is not in line with the regime.

“Some people think that the persecution of Falun Gong has nothing to do with them. Actually, anyone could be classified as a minority one way or another, for example, human rights advocates, lawyers, parents of children poisoned by tainted milk, those whose houses were forcibly torn down, liberals, people who dare to post different views online, and minority ethnic groups. They could all become a target of persecution because they have a conflict of interest with those in power.”

He thought that supporting Falun Gong practitioners’ efforts to protest the persecution was not only moral and just, but actually in the interests of safety and a future for everyone and their descendants. "It should be a universal consensus."

The Spirit of the April 25 Appeal Is Passed On, Giving Hope to the World

Mr. Wang, a former teacher and news reporter, immigrated to Canada at the time of the April 25 appeal. He regretted, “Why was I not in Beijing!”

He said, “I thought about what we could do overseas. There is no appeals office or Tiananmen Square in Toronto. We went to the Chinese Consulate, the window of the Chinese Communist Party, to express ourselves. Our peaceful efforts to protest the persecution have since never stopped. We have been doing this for 14 years.”

Practitioners in China have set up more than 200,000 home-based sites to create informational materials since the peaceful appeal of April 25. Practitioners overseas' efforts have included an SOS Global Walk to call upon people's conscience; going to Chinese embassies and consulates, Chinatowns, and scenic sites to clarify the truth; establishing media outlets; and developing programs to break through the information blockade to spread the facts throughout the world. Practitioners disseminate the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party to promote withdrawal from the CCP and its affiliated organizations. Shen Yun Performing Arts performs around the world to revive traditional Chinese culture.

The uncompromising spirit of the April 25 appeal shows that the peaceful and rational protest of the persecution is being passed on unchanged. It gives hope to the world.”