(Minghui.org) Around the world, Falun Gong practitioners held rallies, candlelight vigils and other activities to mark July 20, the 18th anniversary of the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

Falun Gong was made public in 1992 and soon spread across China due to its beneficial effects on health and fitness. Near 100 million people were practicing it by 1999. Out of jealousy and fear, Jiang Zemin, then head of China’s Communist Party, initiated the persecution of Falun Gong on July 20, 1999.

The persecution has led to the deaths of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in the past 18 years. Hundreds of thousands have been tortured for their beliefs. State-sanctioned organ harvesting atrocities have been underway for over a decade. The exact number of practitioners who have died as a result of the persecution may never be known, and even today, the number of confirmed deaths is thought to represent only a small fraction of the total who have died.

Banners Along Busy Street and Candlelight Vigil in Front of Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles

A candlelight vigil in front of Chinese Consulate was held on July 20 at 8 pm to commemorate the fellow practitioners died in the persecution. In the hours prior, hundreds of practitioners held banners of protest along busy city streets.

At the intersection of Wilshire Blvd and Vermont Avenue, banners reading “Falun Dafa is good”, “Stop the persecution of Falun Gong”, and “Bring Jiang Zemin to justice” could be seen by thousands of passing cars.

A candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate commemorated the thousands who have died in the persecution. A number of speakers called for an end of the persecution and to bring Jiang Zemin, the former head of the CCP who initiated the persecution, to justice. Three practitioners spoke about their personal experiences in the persecution.

Candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles

Practitioner Junxiu Zhu from Sichuan was a civil servant working in a taxation bureau when she lived in China. She spoke at the candlelight vigil, saying how she and her husband suffered unbelievable persecution for their beliefs.

Practitioner Zhu speaks of her suffering in the persecution.

Ms. Zhu was arrested nine times and incarcerated in detention centers, drug rehabilitation centers, a forced labor camp, brainwashing center, and a black jail. She was locked in mental hospitals three times and injected with unknown toxic drugs. She was tortured to the verge of death.

“I was locked in a black tiny cell less than 26 square feet without a window for more than 40 days. I was deprived of using the restroom.” Her husband Yu Jiaqing was beaten in labor camp. He was tortured and ended up with have high blood pressure and heart disease. Relatives could not recognize him when he was released. He passed away not long after his release.

Candlelight Vigil in Toronto

Falun Gong practitioners in Toronto held a candlelight vigil in front of the local Chinese Consulate as well.

Candlelight vigil in front of Chinese Consulate in TorontoSeven-eight-year-old practitioner Zhichun Liu calls for an end of the persecution.

Practitioner Zhichun Liu was a senior engineer in an air force institute in Beijing. He experienced brutal persecution.

“The Party's persecution has gone on for 18 years. We practitioners have persisted for 18 years to say that Falun Dafa is good. Stop the persecution! We gather here today to commemorate the fellow practitioners who died in the persecution.”

Practitioner Yu He (first in front row) hopes the persecution will end soon.Practitioner Jinju Wang (middle): We will tell people about the persecution until it stops.Ravi and his family, new immigrants from Pakistan, join the candlelight vigil.Local resident Chanchal supports efforts to end the persecution of Falun Gong.

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