Special Report: On One-Year Anniversary of the Press Conference Hosted by Falun Gong Practitioners in Beijing on October 28, 1999
- I. Background of the Press Conference
Today a year ago, on October 28, 1999, the temperature in Beijing dropped suddenly to -7 C to -8 C over night. The ancient city of Beijing witnessed two events that day. The first was the lengthy editorial published on People's Daily which officially labeled Falun Gong as an "XX (evil jiao)". Lacking justification, it had to claim that "'the jiao' here did not mean 'sect (zong jiao)' as in a religion, but 'teaching (jiao)' in preaching (shuo jiao)." The other event was that about 30 great Falun Dafa practitioners, with the wisdom and courage endowed by Dafa and their incomparable steadfastness in Dafa, successfully called a press conference in suburban Beijing while a large number of Dafa practitioners went continually to appeal peacefully in Tiananmen Square. The press conference revealed the lies told by Jiang Zemin, and for the first time provided a chance for the world media to have a direct and positive understanding of Dafa practitioners in Mainland China. After the conference, foreign media reported that the Beijing Falun Dafa press conference was a heavy slap on Jiang Zemin's face.
Starting from July 22, 1999, evil forces began the extensive persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. They were ruthless in arresting practitioners. Yet in order to safeguard the truth, practitioners went to appeal without a second thought. Since there was no channels to express their ideas, they had to practice in Tiananmen Square in order to appeal to people around the world for help.
On September 30, numerous Western journalists, ready to report on the 50th anniversary of National Day on October 1, took rare photographs for the first time of the fearless Dafa practitioners who practiced in the Square.
In mid-October, the National People's Congress (NPC) convened in an attempt to label Falun Gong as an "XX." By that point, the appeal of Dafa practitioners had shifted, on the whole, towards Tiananmen. Millions of Dafa practitioners from across the country gathered in Beijing, ready to appeal. Since October 25, numerous practitioners have gone to practice in Tiananmen Square every day, making known the voices of people to the NPC.
II. A Documentary Report of the Press Conference
Jiang Zhaohui, a Dafa practitioner from Fuzhou, Fujian Province, accompanied by several fellow practitioners who were familiar with each other, arrived in Beijing to discuss contacting journalists and organizing a press conference.
During those days, some fellow practitioners tried to convince Jiang Zhaohui to figure out other ways to get the word out since it was too dangerous to host a press conference. The police might arrive before the journalists. He insisted on holding to the plan. Many practitioners around him also insisted on clarifying the truth of Falun Dafa to the whole world -- that we are not an "XX" and that Jiang Zemin's treating Dafa practitioners like this is a serious violation of the Constitution as well as trampling on human rights, and that we seek a peaceful resolution to the issue.
Several days of swift, intense, and orderly preparation work went on: selecting examples of typical incidents and practitioners, preparing speeches, renting a site, making banners, looking for interpreters... Many practitioners were having a hard time making a living due to their extended stay in Beijing. But in order to safeguard the dignity of Dafa, everyone managed to purchase clean and tidy clothes since they were representing tens of millions of Dafa practitioners. In the process of preparations, some suggested that photographers scramble the facial images. All attendees expressed their determination to use their real given names, real family names, real images, and to speak out for Dafa with honor and dignity.
Thus, the preparations for the news conference went on smoothly with support from many fellow practitioners. Below are journal entries preserved from the chief coordinator Jiang Zhaohui. These letters vividly record the process of this news release conference.
I have discussed this issue with many Dafa practitioners who are in Beijing. They all feel that if done successfully, it would contribute significantly to the overall situation of Dafa.
We have also found a policeman who is a Dafa practitioner. He took off his police uniform, gave up his job, and arrived in Beijing to appeal. There are many good practitioners who deserve to be viewed as the elite among the elite in Dafa in Mainland China. I requested them to finish writing their experiences by the following evening and prepare articles to be used as speeches. Of course, for the conference time, I will only arrange for five people to focus on human rights. Among them, will be those practitioners who have been severely tortured, etc. I have determined the total number of practitioners to attend the conference to be around twenty or so in my consideration.
You can think about this: There are nearly one hundred million practitioners in China, yet there isn't a single right for them to speak out. If we could successfully accomplish this event, I don't know how to describe what we would feel. Although there will only be 20 or so of us attending, we will represent all the practitioners who are genuinely cultivating, especially about a million practitioners who are waiting to appeal in and around Beijing. The implications are quite significant.
Yesterday I consulted with the practitioners who would attend the conference, and they all said that they wanted their true names to be provided to journalists because, they said, "we are of honor and dignity, and what we are saying is the truth. If we were not to attend this conference, we would have gone to appeal."
[Early morning of October 28]
Notice on Press Conference Hosted by Falun Dafa Practitioners in China (Chinese and English Bilingual)
When: 12PM (Noon), October 28, 1999. (Firm)
[Detailed contents of this notice omitted by editors]
[In the Afternoon of October 28]
Our press conference has successfully concluded!! Journalists from Reuters, Associated Press, New York Times, etc. attended the conference.
On the morning of October 28, at about 9:30AM, I asked a fellow practitioner to drive me to the conference site. It took about an hour to drive from the Beijing urban area to the conference site, which was in a suburban area. It was nearly 11AM when I arrived at the conference site and most of the attending practitioners were already there, reading books or materials. I discussed a few necessary points with several practitioners who were scheduled to give speeches. According to my initial plan, I would make an opening address, which would be followed by the speeches to be given by the other five practitioners' representatives. Quite a few practitioners suggested a change in this arrangement. Because the practitioners were not familiar with the situations outside of their own provinces, they thought it better for each practitioner to just talk about his or her own experiences. Moreover, if the reporters raised questions, the practitioners would be better prepared in this way to answer them. Later on, I also felt that it was necessary to change the schedule of the conference.
I had asked some other practitioners to reserve the conference room, and they may have acted a little mysteriously. They did not allow the waitress to enter the room, and insisted on decorating the room with banners themselves, etc. As a result, the management of the hotel was suspicious of our group. A practitioner who had coordinated the arrangements with the hotel came to me and told me that the hotel staff wanted to talk with the director of the conference. I thought this must be a test arranged by Teacher and I along with two other practitioners went to see the members of the hotel staff. I apologized to them, explaining that we had made our arrangements excessively meticulous because we had some foreign guests and the coordinator was not familiar with the practices of the hotel. I assured them that we would try to finish in less than an hour and asked their waitresses to serve tea and fruit for the time being.
After I returned to the conference room and told fellow practitioners this situation, they were all quite calm, not in the least scared. I said, "Let's try our best to not go back and forth ourselves. Let's open the door and wait for the attendants to serve tea and fruit. Maybe the police will come, maybe the reporters will come." At this point, the hotel manager with several waitresses entered the room and I asked them to play some light music.
At about 11:30AM, the practitioner in charge of meeting the reporters called and said that three reporters from Reuters had arrived, and they wanted to come to interview us immediately instead of having lunch first. I asked another practitioner to go and drive them here. At around 12:30PM, the associate chief reporter of Reuters, along with another reporter and a photographer, arrived at the conference room. I immediately let practitioners hang up the banners and brought out the picture of Teacher, two Falun emblems, and a picture frame with "Lunyu" ("On Buddha Law" by Mr. Li Hongzhi). The three reporters started the interview right away. An 11-year-old boy surnamed Qu, held the picture of Teacher with both his hands, and the Reuters reporter interviewed him without waiting for my opening declaration. The boy's mother, holding a Falun emblem, stood beside him. The boy's father was also present. In less than half an hour, the reporters from Associated Press and The New York Times together with a photographer also arrived in a hurry. I then officially opened the conference and read my address. Immediately, several reporters asked me a few questions about the persecution I had suffered. I replied briefly and then told them that I wanted to allocate more of the precious time to other practitioners who had suffered much more serious persecution than I.
The three interpreters we invited for this press conference were all very young. One was a graduate advisor at a university in Dalian (Liaoning Province). One was an English instructor at a university in Wuhan (Hubei Province) who had once translated "Hong Yin" (Teacher's poems). The other was an English instructor at a university in Beijing. The practitioner in charge of meeting the reporters had also graduated with a Master's degree from the English department of a university. They all, disregarding their own safety, came to Beijing for this event and met together at this hotel.
The reporters interviewed approximately 10 practitioners. They spent more time on interviewing a practitioner who was a policeman, asking about the details of his experiences. Because the three photographers were all female, they showed great sympathy for the torture Ding Yan suffered, and took many pictures of her.
After about an hour and 15 minutes, the reporters stopped the interview even though there were still some practitioners who wanted to speak. I lowered my voice and asked the Reuters reporter for the reason. He told me that we should finish quickly; otherwise it could become rather dangerous. I then asked practitioners to do the third exercise "penetrating the two cosmic extremes" together. We did it only once and then we did Heshi (pressing the hands in respect) toward the picture of Teacher and recited Teacher's poem "To Be a Human" in Hongyin (Teacher's poem collection).
After I made some arrangements and was ready to leave, some other reporters arrived in a hurry. I asked some practitioners to lead the reporters to their residences for an interview. The three reporters who had already interviewed the practitioners then left with me and some other practitioners. I knew the three reporters were in a hurry to file their stories.
I asked the practitioners attending the press conference to leave Beijing quickly, but I didn't know if they had all left.
As the practitioner drove the three reporters and myself from the hotel, the reporters said, "You're really brave." I asked them with a smile what would happen if police got to know that they had attended this conference. They said, "The worst case is just that we'll not be able to continue as correspondents in China. The police definitely will call us in for interrogation. This is just a little trouble for us, but big trouble for you!"
When they got out of the car, they all said goodbye and shook hands with me, seeming somewhat reluctant to leave.
One thing I forgot to mention: we played the music of "Pudu" (Offering Salvation to All) and "Jishi" (Helping the World) continually during the whole press conference.
According to some sources inside Shijiazhuang Public Security Department, the police have obtained the videotape of the press conference and are trying to determine the whereabouts of Gu Linna and Ding Yan with all means at their disposal.
III. After the Press Conference
On October 28, the reports of Associated Press and Reuters had already spread all over the world. The next day, The New York Times published the photos and story about this conference on the front page. At that time, practitioners in the United States were introducing the situation of Falun Gong in China to the U.S. Capitol and government officials in Washington D.C. When the officials read these reports, they voiced admiration at the courage of the practitioners in China.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most influential English paper in Asia, covered the news about this press conference with big photos filling a whole page. Many major newspapers in Europe also gave prominent coverage to this story.
This press conference greatly inspired fellow practitioners and touched people all over the world. In those dark days, this was the strongest voice that upheld the truth fearlessly in the face of evil. Since then, Jiang Zemin and his accomplice's evil deeds, which attempt to reverse the tide of history while persecuting benevolent people without reason, started to become known by people all over the world. The steadfastness and fearlessness of the practitioners in China when facing brutal forces, as well as their great benevolence and forbearance displayed in peaceful disobedience, began to become widely known all over the world.
The practitioners who attended the conference were successively arrested afterwards. Here we briefly introduce a few practitioners' experiences:
Jiang Zhaohui, male, 36 years old, came from Fujian Province. He was the principal organizer of the conference and also the Guangzhou Fa conference later in November of 1999. He was not even a site assistant but merely one practitioner among millions of Dafa practitioners. Once Dafa practitioners began suffering persecution at the hands of Jiang Zemin, Jiang Zhaohui spontaneously communicated with fellow practitioners and frequently submitted messages to Dafa websites overseas. These messages helped the world to know the truth about Falun Dafa in China. After the conference, he left Beijing and continued to safeguard Dafa. One month later he gathered with nearly 100 fellow practitioners in Guangzhou and planned to hold a Fa conference. On November 25, he was arrested along with many other practitioners. When police broke open the door at midnight and entered the room, he calmly told the police, "I am Jiang Zhaohui. The press conference was organized by me." Later, he took all the responsibility on himself in order to reduce the pressure on his fellow practitioners. He was sentenced to five years in jail and is now being held in a jail in Fujian.
When he was preparing for the Guangzhou Fa conference, Jiang once said, "Even if I were a deity at a very high level today, I would still come down to this world, not fearing becoming an ordinary human, to uphold Dafa standing in front of Teacher." ---Maybe this was his initial sacred oath and he has fulfilled his oath with his actions.
Gu Linna, female, 38 years old, director of the program on economics at the People's Broadcast Radio Station of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. She was also a reporter. Her articles and reports frequently won prizes. She was one of the ten "Outstanding Youths" in Shijiazhuang. She was fired on April 23, 1999 for broadcasting a special program on Falun Gong entitled "People's Hearts Have Been Purified." She went to Zhongnanhai to appeal to the leadership of the central government about the arrest of Falun Gong practitioners in Tianjin on April 25. On June 18, she and four other practitioners' representatives went to Beijing to hand in a letter to the leaders of the central government signed by 13,764 Falun Gong practitioners in Shijiazhuang. On July 20, after the Dafa assistants in Shijiazhuang were arrested and their homes searched, she went at 8AM to the provincial government to report the situation and demand the release of the assistants. The official at the Appealing Office replied: "This is a national action, you have to go to Beijing to appeal." She then went to Beijing that afternoon.
After the press conference she also participated in organizing the Guangzhou Fa conference in November. She was arrested in Guangzhou on November 25 and she persisted in practicing cultivation in jail. She wrote a letter in jail, saying, "Now it is really necessary for more practitioners to step forward and the practitioners who have already stepped forward also need to do more. While stepping forward to validate Dafa we also must cultivate ourselves diligently and firmly. As Dafa cultivators in this human world, we must exhaust all we have to participate in rectifying the Fa in this world. Teacher has said, 'If anyone can harm you, he or she would be able to harm me. Put simply, that person would be able to harm this universe.' This was what Teacher told us disciples. But as disciples, are we able to say that, 'If anyone wants to harm Teacher or the universe, he or she must first harm us?' This is not an issue of enlightenment, no matter in which realm or at which level you are." Gu Linna was sentenced to four years in jail.
Ding Yan, female, 31 years old, hairdresser, from Shijiazhuang, Heibei Province. Since April 25 and July 20, she, among those practitioners who stepped into the breach, threw herself into the process of safeguarding the Fa and that of the Fa rectification. On Oct. 17, 1999, she was arrested when she was practicing in Tiananmen Square and never yielded to severe torture. She was the focus of media coverage at the press conference. She attended the Guangzhou Fa Conference again in November. Her speech "Let Life Glorify in Honoring the Fa" greatly encouraged practitioners from all over the world to safeguard Dafa and strive forward with efforts. She said, "I feel that it is no longer important as to how high I can cultivate. Only because I am assimilated with the Fa has my life become meaningful..." She was arrested on Nov. 25, together with Jiang Zhaohui and Gu Linna. She was once detained in Jiaqiaole Street detention center in Tianping, Guangzhou, and then transferred to Shijiazhuang detention center. She has now been sentenced to three years of imprisonment.
Cai Mingtao, male, 27 years old, one of the interpreters at the press conference, teacher at the Wuhan Education Institution. He obtained the Fa in 1994. He was universally acclaimed as a good teacher who used to take over a class for an absent teacher without compensation. When he learned that the government was going to crack down on Falun Gong on July 20, 1999, he flew to Beijing on July 21 in order to appeal. At the end of October, he attended the press conference held in Beijing and acted as the interpreter. After the conference, unwilling to leave Beijing, he, with a heart toward Dafa like one of a newly born baby, went to appeal to the office that handled letters and calls. He was then sent back to Wuhan and lived at home under surveillance. At the end of April 2000, he was sent to a "610" [re-education] Class in Qinglin, Wuchang, where he was frequently beaten and kicked, handcuffed and shackled. Yet, he never changed his belief, instead, he pointed out publicly several times to the instructors that they were doing something wrong. In September, 2000, his family members took him home. On October 4, Cai Mingtao decided to go to Beijing again in order to safeguard Dafa. His family tried very hard to prevent him from doing so and locked him in a room. In the early morning of October 5, he tried to get out through the balcony so that he could go to Beijing. Unfortunately, he fell and died instantly. He devoted his young life to Dafa.
Lei Xiaoting, female, one of the interpreters at the press conference, a graduate from the Foreign Languages Department, Beijing University, a teacher at the Industrial and Commercial University. After the press conference, she was determined to face the government and to touch the hearts of people of good will in the world through her own suffering. A few days later, she was taken away by force from her dormitory room by police from No. 7 Branch, Beijing Public Security Bureau, and has rarely been heard of since. Occasionally, practitioners being released from the jail have said of her, "She's very firm and has revealed nothing." By April 2000, her parents learned that she was secretly sentenced to two years imprisonment. When her parents, who regard her as their pride and joy, went to see her in jail, she, facing the pressure of parental sentiment, said calmly that "If I felt like telling them, I would have told them before the sentencing... I won't say anything." The university asked her mother to change her mind. When her mother asked her: "Aren't you afraid of imprisonment?" She replied: "No." She doesn't have many brave words; however, she's harmonizing Dafa with her quiet but firm righteous thoughts.
Liu Dongmei, female, one of the interpreters at the press conference, a teacher from the Dalian Foreign Languages Institute. She stayed in Beijing after the press conference, exchanging cultivation experiences with practitioners from all over the country and further contacting western reporters. When a reporter asked her why she came to Beijing, she replied, "Long ago Jesus Christ knew quite well that he would be nailed on the cross; he still walked to Jerusalem." Later on, she realized that she should go back to her hometown in order to bring along the practitioners there, resuming overall Fa-studying and practice. Her fellow practitioners failed to persuade her to stay in Beijing, knowing that it would be very dangerous for her to go back. She resolutely got on the train to Dalian, and has never been heard of since. It is said that she was arrested as soon as she got off the train.
At present, most of the practitioners who attended the press conference are firmly cultivating Dafa in jail. During those darkest days, in the most crucial moments in the process of Fa-rectification, their courage and wisdom woke up countless fellow practitioners and everyday people. The poem they wrote during the Guangzhou Fa Conference, expressed exactly the realm they had achieved in cultivation:
To Fellow Practitioners
Feeling grateful to Teacher with the spreading of Dafa yesterday,
Due to the complete purification of my body with the chronic illnesses gone.
Obtaining divine fruit status by upgrading our xinxing,
And determined to reach consummation through diligent cultivation and learning of the Fa.
The wind and clouds suddenly changed--- the true was made to be the false and the false in turn became the true.
Whether we studied the Fa diligently all along can be gauged by today's examination room.
It isn't that Teacher didn't tell us clearly before---how can we pass the test leaning on a walking stick?
Everyone says it is good in peaceful days, yet sincerity is revealed at the crucial point.
Where am I when Dafa is suffering an injustice? Can I become a God hiding at home?
Regardless of Dafa, where can one find his own position and where is his life going?
The human world is actually created by the Gods, and there are no sentient beings without Dafa.
The everyday people in the maze have slandered the heavenly Fa, but why do we, clear in mind, keep silent?
If the son were not around when the benevolent father is being slandered, he would be blamed for inhumanity.
When the day of Fa-rectification ends, how could we face our Benevolent Teacher?
Hard to abandon reputation, self-interests, and feelings today, we will have nothing left when the mists and clouds scatter.
Maintaining the degenerated society will only please the demons, yet sadden oneself.
There's no example to follow in cultivation, and Buddha fruits cannot be enjoyed through sitting idle.
Genuine upgrade can be reached only after a complete sacrifice, and a God is a real God only when he attains the righteous enlightenment of selflessness and altruism.
Unwilling to leave a single practitioner behind, Teacher has endured so much for us.
As long as we stay at home, not awakening even one day, the release of fellow practitioners from the jail is nowhere in sight.
Having difficulty in taking a step, thinking over again and again, and stepping back means slipping towards the gate of hell.
"Fear" is an attachment that we will abandon ultimately, and let us join hands and step forward, appealing for redress.
There are lots of practitioners ahead of us, going to Beijing and appealing, with sincerity and a heart of kindness.
Never complain of the bitterness of sleeping in the open air, cold and hunger, and never be afraid of severe torture.
Regarding the Fa as Teacher, cultivating themselves towards non-omission, they got enlightened to the Fa one level after another.
Giving up the human mentality and supporting justice, their boundless benevolence impacted people in this world.
One steps into the breach as another falls so as to awaken all fellow practitioners, taking the responsibilities of spreading and safeguarding Dafa.
Trying our best to clarify the truth of Dafa to people around the world, as safeguards of the Fa in the new universe.
Mighty virtues exist wherever the Buddha-light illuminates, eternity is achieved whenever one's blood is shed.
Firmly cultivate Dafa with the heart unmoved, while the Wheel of the Law turns forever to settle the universe.
Falun Dafa Practitioners
Oct. 28, 2000
Press conference held by Falun Gong practitioners shocks the world.
Cai Mintao who gave his life to Dafa