Candlelight Vigil in DC Honors Falun Gong Practitioners Who Died in the Persecution
(Minghui.org) Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners held a candlelight vigil in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the evening of July 20 to commemorate fellow practitioners who lost their lives in the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) 18-year persecution. The solemn event drew attention to the heartbreak happening in China and called for its immediate end.
As evening approached, several thousand candles were held high to form three large Chinese characters meaning “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance”–the central principles of Falun Gong. The solemn music and flickering candlelight drew the attention of passersby. Many tourists paused to learn about Falun Gong and the unprecedented persecution in China. A large screen showed slides introducing Falun Gong and practitioners' efforts to end the persecution.
Practitioner Jia from Liaoning Province, China, said that she was saddened by the persecution. “We could practice Falun Gong freely before the persecution started in 1999,” she recalled. “Every one of us was healthy and happy. Five practitioners whom I knew have died in the persecution since 1999.”
Jing Yu, who now lives in the U.S., said she especially missed her friend Yang Yuyong who was tortured to death a few days ago in the Wuqing Detention Center in Tianjin. Ms. Jing said, “Yang lived about a ten-minute drive from my home. He was tortured to death on July 11. His body was full of cuts and bruises. Over one hundred police guarded his body and intimidated his daughter, threatening her not to file a lawsuit. His wife is still in a detention center.”
Falun Gong practitioner Chi Lihua and her daughter Xu Xinyang from Liaoning Province, China participated in the candlelight vigil with tears in their eyes. Chi's husband Xu Dawei was arrested for printing Falun Gong informational materials and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Xu was emaciated and had injuries all over his body when he was released in 2009. He passed away just 13 days after returning home. Chi's father, brother and mother passed away due to the extreme stress of the persecution. She and her daughter fled China in 2013.
The deaths of 4,114 Falun Gong practitioners as a direct result of the persecution have been documented since July 20, 1999. However, due to the CCP's information blockade, the actual number of deaths is likely to be much higher.
Raising Awareness of the Persecution
A practitioner who works in the New York Department of Education participated in the candlelight vigil. She has been practicing Falun Gong since 2002. She said, “Falun Gong practitioners in China are still suffering from the persecution. We call attention to the persecution, as many people still do not know about it.”
Another practitioner from New York has practiced Falun Gong for seven years. He shared, “I visited many countries searching for the truth. After reading Zhuan Falun (the main book of Falun Gong), I decided to practice Falun Gong. I have been very healthy physically and mentally since then.”
He said that he participated in the candlelight vigil to draw attention to the persecution in China.
Visitors Learn about the Persecution
Tourists from around the world come to Washington DC to see the Lincoln Memorial. Many visitors took photos of the candlelight vigil.
A tourist from Taiwan said he sent photos of the candlelight vigil to his students in Taiwan. He said that several of his students also practice Falun Gong.
He added, “I don't understand why Falun Gong is not allowed in China. I wish that Falun Gong practitioners could practice freely in China.”
A couple from New York took photos of the candlelight vigil with their phones. They said that it was meaningful to hold this event at the Lincoln Memorial, as it helped people learn about Falun Gong and the persecution in China. Many passersby said that they wished the Chinese regime would change and the persecution would stop.