From San Francisco to New York, A Peaceful Appeal is Remembered and Commemorated
(Minghui.org) “I will do my best to tell my family and friends what I saw here,” said pedestrian Nancy in San Francisco, “My voice may be weak. But the tragedy these innocent people have been experiencing in China broke my heart. It is too horrible for us to ignore.”
Nancy, who lives in Oakland, said she saw Falun Gong practitioners at Union Square on April 21. Impressed by the gentle exercises, she cannot imagine that such a peaceful meditation practice has been suppressed in China in the past 19 years. A large number of practitioners have been arrested, detained, tortured, or even killed for their organs by the communist regime in China.
Across many cities in the United States and other countries, Falun Gong practitioners have been raising awareness of the peaceful appeal in Beijing that took place on April 25, 1999. Following the illegal arrest of dozens of practitioners in Tianjin, practitioners were told by officials to go to Beijing to address this issue. When 10,000 practitioners went to the central appeals office in Beijing, stood outside in a quiet demonstration, and explained the situation of Falun Gong to government officials, the peaceful appeal was quickly resolved by then-Premier Zhu Rongji. However, then-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide campaign against Falun Gong that July that continues through the present day.
Below are reports on recent events in San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York. Coverage of activities in other locations can be found here.
Setareh Taghvaei is an architect living in San Francisco. This is the first time she saw practitioners doing the Falun Dafa exercises, and she said she could feel a strong energy. She expressed admiration for the practitioners’ perseverance in their faith and hopes the tragedy in China will end soon.
Zhang Xinyu, an IT analyst working in the San Francisco Bay Area, said he did not know much about Falun Gong until he saw a television report of the peaceful appeal in Beijing, became curious, and began to read Zhuan Falun, the main book of Falun Gong. “The book answered my questions about life and society. It also teaches one to be a better person,” he said.
Because the persecution in China is still ongoing, Zhang hopes these events can help people learn what Falun Gong is and help to stop the 19-year-long suppression.
“No matter what you believe, the words Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance are universal values, and they would change our world for the better,” said Nancy.
About 2,000 miles away, practitioners held a press conference outside the Chinese Consulate in Chicago on April 21. Some practitioners spoke about how the peaceful appeal in 1999 has affected them personally and China in general.
Ms. Cheng, who lived in Beijing during the April 25 appeal, said many practitioners around her had heard about the magazine article defaming Falun Gong and that practitioners in Tianjin had been arrested. They discussed with one another and decided to go to the appeals office in Beijing the following day.
“We all benefited from the exercises, and it was natural for us to speak and act upon our conscience,” recalled Ms. Cheng, “We just stood there without any noise. Among the practitioners, there were doctors, students, soldiers, and actresses. We did not cause trouble and left a good impression on the public.”
Mr. Yang, who lived at Tsinghua University at the time, heard about the mass arrest from a practitioner in Tianjin. The police there had said that the issue could be resolved if practitioners went to petition in Beijing.
That day, Mr. Yang met a practitioner from Germany who was visiting her mother in Beijing. She said both she and her mother saw improved health after taking up Falun Gong. She added that people overseas were free to practice, that the Chinese government should not restrict practitioners’ activities, and that she wanted the government to allow an environment in which to practice Falun Gong.
Practitioners in Las Vegas went to Chinatown on the evening of April 22, where they demonstrated the Falun Gong exercises and held a candlelight vigil for those who have lost their lives in the persecution in China.
Seeing banners about the April 25 appeal and those calling to stop the organ harvesting crimes in China, one driver rolled down his car window and encouraged practitioners, “Thank you for doing this. I will tell my friends about it!”
David Scott, who manages a beverage supply company in Austin, was on vacation with his wife. He was on a walk and was surprised to see the practitioners’ banners. After learning about the persecution, he said he would share the information on social media.
Practitioners held a march in Flushing on April 22, which started at 41st Avenue, proceeded along Main Street, turned at Sanford Avenue and Kissena Boulevard, and terminated at Queens Library.
Local resident Margaret praised practitioners for the performance. “It’s great for all ages, and I see people of all ages in the group. It’s great!” Another resident named Leslinton said, “Everyone should have [truthfulness, compassion, forbearance], which are international values, very pure values.”
Mr. Li, a human rights lawyer from mainland China, had defended 24 practitioners’ right to freedom of belief. He said the Communist Party contradicts traditional values and often persecutes people for no reason. “I hope to see events like this in China one day,” he added.
Mr. Bai Jiemin said he had suffered tremendously in China because of the communist regime. Coming from Shanghai, he and petitioners (fangmin) had visited many government agencies to appeal for restitution for financial losses and human rights abuses, but no one accepted their cases. He had no choice but to flee from China to the United States. “The Communist Party has no future because it is the worst,” he said.
Mr. Wei Libin, who had arrived from Hangzhou, China ten days earlier, said he had learned about Falun Gong online through anti-censorship tools. He had previously been misled by the Communist Party’s propaganda but said he “later came to know that practitioners are actually so compassionate and truthful.”