Falun Gong practitioners in Toronto, Canada held a "Falun Gong Press Conference" on March 3.

At the press conference, practitioners first read "An Appeal Letter to the National People's Congress (NPC) from Falun Gong Practitioners in North America". The letter stated that " On the occasion of the convening of the Third Session of the Ninth NPC, we, Chinese Falun Dafa practitioners in North America, would like to especially report to you the severe situation of illegal persecution of hundreds of millions of Falun Dafa practitioners in China. .... We sincerely appeal to you, the deputies to the NPC, to urge the Chinese government to peacefully resolve the crisis from an objective and impartial standpoint. Please instruct the government departments concerned to promptly rescind the arrest warrant for Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa, and to stop persecution against Falun Gong practitioners. Please value the righteousness of the nation and the future of mankind. Please return Falun Dafa's innocence and bring benefit to future generations of the Chinese people."

During the conference twelve practitioners delivered speeches on various issues of the current situation. The topics included the escalated persecution of Falun Gong practitioners by the Chinese government since mid February, Chinese people's expectations with regard to the convening of the NPC, the human rights issue that will be discussed at the UN Human Rights Conference in Geneva on March 20, objective and impartial ethics to be followed by media reports, and attaining noble-minded manners through cultivation.

Upon learning about the press conference, a practitioner from Montreal immediately sent a letter about the situation in her hometown Shanghai. When visiting China, she was forced to leave the country within stated time. Up to now her husband is still under detention. Her brother's family members were all detained because of practicing Falun Gong. Her sister-in-law, a young lady, was handcuffed to the window for three days and three nights, simply because she did the exercise in the detention center. This is one of the true stories happening around us overseas practitioners. The practitioner provided her name and social security number. She welcomes the press to investigate and verify.

One practitioner expressed his opinion that as a human being, everyone should have the right to live and the freedom of belief, which are natural rights of human beings. Chen Zi-Xiu of Wei-Fang city, Shan-Dong province, was a lady close to sixty years old. Her initial idea of cultivating Falun Gong, he said, was to keep fit, as everyone wishes for. Through cultivation, she not only genuinely attained healthy body and mind, but also understood further the principles of being a good person. To think that such a good person, an ordinary citizen, was tortured to death! Heaven forbid!

Practitioners told the attendees that in the past few days they had been sending the true stories of persecutions to nearly 40 foreign consulates in Toronto. Several consul generals met with our practitioners in person. During the conversation, the diplomats showed great concern over series of persecutions against Falun Gong practitioners in China. They will hand over the appeal letter and the true story package to their government leaders, so as to express the views of their counties at the UN Human Rights Conference later this month.

The practitioners indicated that in addition to informing the central government leaders of the aspirations of overseas practitioners, we should also spread the truth to provincial, municipal, and other government officials accordingly. For instance, there have been several tragedies in Shan-Dong province where Falun Gong practitioners were brutally tortured to death. Many local government officials may not know the truth of the facts. They did not formulate the crackdown policy, why should they be the scapegoats? We shall send information directly to the governor of Shan-Gong province, and to the mayors of Wei-Fang, Zhao-Yuan, and Ji-Ning cities.

A reporter covered the entire process of the press conference. She expressed her view when the conference was drawing to an end. As a human being, as a person with conscience, by no means can one feel indifferent to the series of human rights violations in China, she said. Whenever she read or heard about the inhumane persecutions suffered by Falun Gong practitioners, she felt very sad. All these were unimaginable. She stressed that the freedom of press and speech are so important to a nation and its people. Based first and foremost on the basic ethics of a journalist, she reported Falun Gong several times. She vowed to report Falun Gong truthfully and justly, and expressed her admiration for Falun Gong practitioners. Practitioners warmly applauded her speech.

The press conference was held in a warm and peaceful atmosphere. We told the truth to all kind-hearted people, enable them to genuinely distinguish righteous from evil, good from bad, and to arouse people's conscience. We practitioners will never regard any people as enemies. Others may mistreat us, but we do not fight back. Instead, we simply express our views, concerns, and facts for the attention of the world with our hearts. We would like to pay great respects to fellow Falun Dafa practitioners in China, who displayed great kindness and tolerant hearts under extremely harsh cultivation environments. Our hearts are always with them.

(Translated on Mar. 14, 2000)