Swedish Practitioner Recounts Her Four Trips to China (Photos)
(Minghui.org) Pirjo Svensson, a registered nurse in Sweden, began practicing Falun Gong back in 1995. She had visited China on four separate occasions. Her first two sightseeing excursions stand in sharp contrast to her two trips to China after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the persecution against Falun Gong in 1999.
Starting on the Path of Cultivation
“Pirjo, do you know that a Chinese qigong master is coming to Sweden?” asked a friend on their way home in early 1995. “He is young but full of wisdom and power. He will be offering a free qigong healing session. Would you like to go?”
Since Pirjo had been suffering from a severe lumbar disease, she had decided to attend the event. She had previously tried Western medicine, psychiatric counseling, and medical qigong therapy to treat her illness, but to no avail.
The “healing session” that she had attended was actually a seven-day Falun Dafa lecture series held in Gothenburg, Sweden. Pirjo, along with over 120 locals, attended the first lecture on April 14, 1995, in an old yellowish building in the town of Nordgården.
“He looked young and very kind,” recalled Pirjo upon seeing Master Li for the first time. “He wore a suit and a white shirt. I was pleased to see him and felt an inexplicable sense of hope.
“No one in the audience had ever heard or read the information that Master had shared with us. He explained what Falun Dafa is, what cultivation is, and what the meaning of life is. I was very eager to hear his teachings!
“After the first lecture concluded, everyone gathered around Master Li to ask him questions. “Looking at us, Master said, 'I want to show you the power of Falun Dafa.'
“He then asked us to look at him while thinking of a painful area in our bodies. He then made a few small hand gestures, including a rather elaborate one. As I thought about my spine area, I suddenly felt a breeze flowing through my waist and spine. My midsection suddenly became light and my pain disappeared. It was so marvelous! Everyone felt the power and was very touched.
“Although I had a strong reaction in my body after the third lecture, including a severe headache, I knew it was because Master was removing my lumbar problem from its roots. I trusted Master and did not regard the reaction as an illness.
“During the second lecture, all of my symptoms had disappeared, only to return on my way home after class. On the last day of the lecture series, my whole body felt light and free from illness.
“All my previous feelings of being treated unfairly when I was young seemed to evaporate after I began practicing Falun Gong. Master teaches us to be good people and to be kind to others. I tried not to be angry at others and looked inward when facing conflicts.
“One day, my neighbor began quarreling with me for no apparent reason, however, I remained calm and did not argue back. As a nurse, I have to deal with a lot of picky patients every day, yet I always managed to make them feel respected and cared for.
“My colleague was puzzled by my new behavior, 'What happened to you Pirjo?' she asked. 'Why do you treat these pesky and unreasonable people with so much patience and respect?'
“I smiled and happily told her, 'Falun Dafa has taught me to be patient. I practice Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.'”
Visiting Fellow Practitioners in China
Master's lecture series had a huge impact on the practitioners in Sweden. At that time, a lot of Falun Dafa books were being translated into different languages. One year later, Zhuan Falun was translated into Swedish and later published.
When Pirjo bought a copy she was very delighted. “I read it from cover-to-cover, that same night. It is hard to imagine not having this book in my life!” she exclaimed.
“The more I read the book, the more I understood. When Master left Sweden, the practitioners there really missed Master. We yearned to go to China and visit our fellow practitioners,” Pirjo remarked.
In autumn 1996, Pirjo and a few Swedish practitioners flew to Beijing, China. When they arrived, they saw people practicing the Falun Gong exercises in every park they visited. This deeply encouraged the Western practitioners.
The Chinese practitioners were incredibly warm to the Westerners and invited them back to their homes to cook and eat together.
“When we shared cultivation experiences with the Chinese practitioners, there was usually someone present who could translate for us,” Pirjo explained. “If there wasn't, we just looked at each other and smiled. Being together with the local practitioners was a really good experience for us Westerners, as it deepened our understanding of cultivation.
“A Chinese practitioner had told us that she used to suffer from heart disease and was unable to work for 20 years. However, shortly after practicing Falun Dafa, she fully recovered. Another practitioner said that she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had been told that she only had one more year to live. After learning Falun Dafa, her tumor disappeared without a trace!
“I used to have a problem doing the second exercise at home. When my arms got tired, I'd put them down. But, when I was around the Chinese practitioners, the idea of putting my arms down never crossed my mind. I was even able to get into the full lotus position, for the very first time!”
Explaining the Facts to the Police
In December 1998, a group of over 20 Western practitioners flew to Beijing, and then took a train to Dalian City, where they celebrated the New Year. Upon arriving, they were greeted by a large group of Chinese practitioners who picked them up and invited them to the local homes of practitioners.
“They served us seven different types of dumplings,” Pirjo recalled. “It was an extremely memorable occasion!”
The Western practitioners joined over 10,000 Chinese practitioners during the morning exercises in Dalian, the day after New Years.
It was at that time that the CCP began monitoring all Dafa-related activities. In order to allow the regime's officials to have a good understanding of Falun Dafa, local Chinese practitioners arranged for Pirjo and several other Swedish practitioners to meet with the heads of the Dalian police department.
“We were invited to speak to over 100 police officers. Through a translator, we were able to convincingly explain the goodness of Dafa, using our own experiences as examples.”
Pirjo then read Lunyu to them in Chinese, which greatly surprised the officers. She told them that many Westerners were learning Chinese, after they began practicing Falun Dafa.
Clarifying the Facts with a Heavy Heart
On July 20, 1999, the Party initiated a massive slander and smear campaign against Falun Dafa. When the Swedish practitioners heard the news, they hurried over to the Chinese embassy in Stockholm.
“We handed the embassy staff a petition letter demanding an immediate end to the persecution of Falun Dafa. We wrote, 'Falun Dafa is good. We are all good people. We haven’t done anything wrong. We believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.' Not surprisingly, the embassy did not respond.
“Whenever we turned on the TV or read a newspaper, we were shocked at how the international media had unwittingly parroted the lies perpetrated by China's state-run media, regarding the crackdown on Falun Dafa. They simply were not true! We cried while reading reports on the Minghui website, especially the ones about elderly practitioners being imprisoned and brutally tortured in an effort to force them to give up their belief.”
Overseas Western practitioners were extremely anxious. It became increasingly difficult for them to make contact with the Chinese practitioners in China, as many of them were either illegally arrested or in some way displaced. In addition, the Party had blocked all avenues of communication, so it was very difficult for foreign media to report on the situation.
In November 1999, Pirjo and several Swedish practitioners made a special trip to Beijing. They contacted several foreign news correspondents based in China, offering them an opportunity to meet with Chinese practitioners so that they could learn first-hand the truth about the persecution.
During the Swedish practitioners' trip to Beijing, they were closely followed and videotaped by the Chinese police. There was such a sense of terror in the air that it became difficult to breathe. Group exercises in the park, of course, came to an abrupt end.
Although the Westerners walked around Tiananmen Square with a heavy heart, they vowed, “One day, we will be back!”
Westerners Appeal In Tiananmen Square
On November 21, 2001, over 30 Western practitioners from 12 countries went to Beijing's Tiananmen Square to stage a peaceful appeal for Falun Dafa. The daring event was reported around the world. TV and printed media showed pictures of a group of Westerners holding a large yellow banner with the words, “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance” in both Chinese and English. Some of the practitioners sat in the lotus position.
The nearby tourists were all stunned. Sirens could be heard from around the square, with police everywhere rushing to confiscate the banner. Two policemen arrested a Westerner, who shouted: “Falun Dafa is good! The whole world knows it!”
“They tried to put us into waiting police vans, but I didn’t cooperate,” explained Pirjo. “Two officers pulled my hair and dragged me into a van. They beat several of us pretty badly. When they started their vehicles, I opened the window and shouted loudly: ‘Falun Dafa is good!’ Other practitioners joined in. A police officer rushed over and sat on my back, making it difficult to breathe or sit up.”
The practitioners were escorted to an undisclosed location. Pirjo quietly phoned the media in Stockholm while the other Westerners alerted the news outlets in their respective countries.
“We were detained in a small room. We had no idea what the police had planned to do with us, nor did we know how long we would be detained. When I had asked to use the restroom, a female officer escorted me and watched me very closely. When I exited the restroom, I saw three policemen standing in the corridor. I immediately started to loudly recite Lunyu.”
What happened next really surprised Pirjo. Not only did the officers not stop her, but they actually applauded! They seemed delighted to hear a foreigner speak in their native language.
“We were then taken to a hotel. Well... actually, it was more like a prison. We were interrogated and repeatedly questioned about how we had arranged to secretly come to China and do what we did. They wanted information. We told the person in charge, 'Falun Dafa is very good. You should not persecute Falun Dafa!' He pounded the table and shouted: 'I know! But this is my job!'”
The Westerners’ appeal in China was thrust into the international spotlight. Foreign consulates in China were doing everything they could to protect the safety of their citizens, including picking them up at the “hotel.”
The Swedish consulate official was lead on a wild goose chase by the Chinese police. When he finally located the Swedish practitioners, he said, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you! The police sent me here, there, and everywhere. Basically, they’ve lied to me about your whereabouts!”
Pirjo and the other practitioners were quickly transferred to a safe place and shortly after boarded a plane heading to Copenhagen, Denmark, where they took a connecting flight home.
When a TV host asked Pirjo why she had gone to Tiananmen Square to appeal for Falun Dafa, she replied, “I went to Tiananmen because within the last two years, the world governments have done absolutely nothing to stop the persecution of Falun Dafa. As a result, the persecution has only intensified and an increasing number of Chinese practitioners are being persecuted to death!
“What should we do if our governments don't take action against this horrific crime against humanity? As Dafa practitioners, we had to do something! So we planned this trip and didn’t tell anyone!”
The group photo of the Western practitioners' peaceful appeal in Tiananmen Square has become somewhat of a symbol of Falun Dafa practitioners' fearless courage and determination in the face of a completely unwarranted and evil persecution.