(Minghui.org) The year 1999 is of particular significance for Falun Dafa practitioners, as this was the year that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started persecuting the practice. Around 10,000 practitioners had peacefully appealed to the Chinese government on April 25, 1999, and three months later the campaign of human rights abuses officially began.

Over 1,000 Falun Dafa practitioners gathered at City Hall Square in Taipei on April 16, 2017, to commemorate the events of April 25, 1999, and raise awareness of the subsequent 18 years of persecution in China.

Group exercises by more than 1,000 Falun Dafa practitioners in front of Taipei City Hall on April 16, 2017.

A press conference was held, along with a large group exercise demonstration. Chang Chin-hwa, president of the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association, said the appeal in 1999 was viewed as the “largest” and “most peaceful” gathering in recent Chinese history. She said, “This is because Falun Dafa practitioners follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. They are doing so to become better people.”

Chang said that there were very few practitioners in Taiwan in 1999. However, after reading media reports about the persecution starting in mainland China, many people were curious to find out more, and later became Falun Dafa practitioners.

The persecution in China highlights the brutality of the Chinese Communist Party, explained Chang. “Jiang Zemin, then Chinese leader, started the suppression with brutality and hate propaganda. As a result, tens of millions of practitioners were negatively affected, and subjected to arrests, detention, torture, brainwashing, forced labor, and imprisonment. The worst crime is organ harvesting from living Falun Dafa practitioners.”

City Councilors: Basic Human Rights and Humanity

Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi said that he was impressed by Falun Dafa practitioners' peacefulness and compassion.

Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi thanked practitioners for their courage and persistence. He said, “I want to tell Chinese leaders that, whether it's 18 years or however long the suppression may last, we will be here to support practitioners and their cause.”

Hung, who has an office near a tourist site where practitioners hold events to raise awareness of the persecution, said that he sometimes sees pro-communist groups harassing and even physically attacking practitioners, who respond with endurance and peace. “I am impressed by these practitioners, because from them we can see that Falun Dafa is righteous. Meanwhile, we also get an idea of how bad the suppression is in China.”

Taipei City Councilor Chang Mao-nan urges the CCP to release detained practitioners and stop the suppression in China.

Taipei City Councilor Chang Mao-nan agreed with Hung on the issue of the pro-communist groups. Because these groups have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party, Chang has talked to the Taiwan police about stepping in to support Falun Dafa practitioners' lawful rights. He said that the principles of Falun Dafa represent traditional values of Chinese culture and “they are something we should all admire and support.”

Taipei City Councilor Chung Hsiao-ping said everyone, regardless of political beliefs or background, should support Falun Dafa practitioners.

Chung Hsiao-ping, a Taipei City Councilor who introduced a resolution supporting a lawsuit against Chinese former leader Jiang Zemin for persecuting Falun Dafa, said that he was glad to see the resolution had been passed. He added, “More than 200,000 people have filed criminal complaints against Jiang in China. A Spanish court has ordered Jiang to be indicted. All these need our support, because they involve basic human rights and humanity.”

“The Atrocity Won't Last Long”

Residents and tourists watch the group exercises.

Many passersby, including Chinese tourists, said that they were happy to see these activities today. Ms. Liu, a college senior who majored in Mass Communications, said that she was impressed by the large-scale exercises, “I took many pictures today, because this is a great opportunity for my project.”

Local resident Woo said that she knew practitioners have held many events like this to raise awareness. “It involves lots of hard work and it's always touching to see them. They are doing the right thing, and I hope they will keep it up.”

One man in his thirties read the posters and accepted leaflets from practitioners. He said that he disliked the suppression very much, particularly the organ harvesting. “We know that the atrocity won't last long,” he remarked.

Physical and Moral Improvement

Ms. Yeh, a professor from National Taiwan University, said that many people in Taiwan learned about Falun Dafa from the April 25, 1999, event in China. She said, “Because of the strong interest, we held lots of 9-day lecture sessions starting in May 1999, to tell people what Falun Dafa is and what Master Li [the founder of Falun Dafa] tells us.”

Ms. Zhu, who works in a nearby law firm, was one of the attendees. She said, “I remember reading a report at the time saying practitioners were peaceful throughout the appeal and did not leave a single piece of paper or trash behind. I was thinking, how could this be possible? So I wanted to know more about it.”

It turned out that she found more than she expected. With late-stage uterine cancer, she could not do much, due to her illness. But after the 9-day lecture sessions and exercises, her health miraculously recovered. “My heart was filled with joy,” she said.

Ms. Chen had similar experiences. “One of my best friends told me about Falun Dafa and I began to practice it too. The chronic nasal allergy that bothered me for a long time disappeared soon afterward.

“Besides physical improvements, what attracts me the most are Falun Dafa's principles,” she continued. “Master Li teaches us to be better people and always put others ahead of ourselves, no matter where we are or what we do. I think this is the right thing to do, so I hold it dear in my heart.”