(Minghui.org) The events of April 25, 1999 brought Falun Gong to the international stage and the impact is still being felt today, 15 years later.

On that day, over 10,000 practitioners quietly demonstrated in Beijing, asking that the law reaffirm their right to practice and that a number of practitioners detained by police in Tianjin be released. The 10,000 left peacefully later that day, after then-Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji met with Falun Gong representatives. Zhu agreed to release the Tianjin practitioners and gave assurances that the government did not oppose Falun Gong.

So what was it about these events that struck such fear into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that it soon after launched a nationwide campaign of persecution?

The Party's fear goes all the way back to the roots of its rule.

When the Party rose to power, it immediately set out to destroy Chinese people's faith, demolishing temples and monasteries, defiling Buddha statues, and the like. It replaced the ancient Chinese tradition of rule based upon virtue and “the mandate of Heaven” with “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” In other words, the Party maintains power with violence and fear.

Its entire state apparatus, from the military, police, propaganda organs, to the court system, is geared towards crushing threats, perceived or otherwise, with violence and fear. Decades of this approach led to an icy pall hanging over all of China, and few dared to step out against the Party line. The Chinese people had seen all too often what happens to those who do.

Yet on April 25, 1999, this pall of violence and fear was pierced by a group of citizens whose belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance was stronger than threats of imprisonment, forced labor, or even death.

The 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners did not go to Zhongnanhai to challenge the CCP leadership in its medium of violence and “class struggle.” Instead, the practitioners peacefully assembled and reasonably petitioned for acknowledgment of their constitutional right to exercise their beliefs.

In many ways, this was not something that the Party was prepared to deal with. It maintains power with the “barrel of a gun,” but was now faced with a group of people unafraid of taking a courageous stand, fueled by their belief in higher principles.

Predictably, the regime resorted to overwhelming force, slander, and outright violence to try to suppress this spiritual uprising. But instead of Falun Gong being “crushed in three months” as then-CCP leader Jiang Zemin mandated, Falun Gong has continued to flourish and carries on in over 100 countries all over the world.

Practitioners' strength and perseverance rooted in their firm belief in Falun Gong's core teachings remain unshaken after 15 years. This quiet strength, driven by faith and belief in principles, stands in stark contrast to the CCP's violence, fear, and deceit. On the anniversary of this historic event, it is this strength and perseverance that we should cherish and celebrate.

Want to learn more about the events of April 25, 1999?

Video: The Protest That Changed China - a 21-minute documentary film
The Peaceful Appeal of April 25, 1999 - discussion of the topic from many angles
April 25th Events - coverage of events marking the anniversaries of April 25