The April 25 Appeal Was an Attempt to Prevent the Persecution
This article was first published in April 2010.
On April 25, 1999, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners appealed for justice in Beijing. The appeal was an opportunity for the Chinese regime to get to know Falun Gong, what kind of people the practitioners were, and what they wanted. Far from being a cause for persecution, the appeal was an attempt to prevent the persecution from taking place. The practitioners initiated this large-scale event spontaneously, without any organization.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has intentionally hid the answer to the key question about the "April 25" incident: Why did the Falun Gong practitioners appeal? The practitioners requested three things during their conversation with government officials: 1) the release of the innocent Falun Gong practitioners who had been arrested two days earlier in Tianjin, 2) the assurance of a fair and just cultivation environment for Falun Gong, and 3) permission for Falun Gong books to be published through normal channels.
From these three requests, one can see the Falun Gong cultivation environment had been interfered with before April 25 by the CCP Central Propaganda Ministry and the Public Security Ministry. In fact, the first stage of the persecution of Falun Gong had already begun. If the Falun Gong practitioners did not step forward to safeguard their cultivation environment, the situation would have quickly deteriorated.
Tens of thousands of practitioners joined the appeal. Some might ask if that was too many people? At that time, there were seventy to one hundred million Falun Gong practitioners in China alone, so it is not surprising that tens of thousands of practitioners would show up. If this event had been organized and promoted, it is very likely that a million would have gone. In the face of so many people from mainstream society, the persecution may have never been started. But Falun Gong practitioners did not use an organized method to encourage more to go because all Falun Gong activities are voluntary; one is free to come or go as one wishes, and there are no registration rosters or name lists.
Many practitioners were retired citizens who had been through the Cultural Revolution. Even the younger practitioners had lived through the 1989 June Fourth Tiananmen Massacre. Yet they calmly walked out amidst the storm, clearly knowing the consequences of dealing with the CCP. Exactly what enabled them to step forward?
The answer is simple: after cultivating Falun Gong, these practitioners genuinely wanted to be good people and discipline themselves according to Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. Many practitioners would think, "We are only trying to be good people, this should not count as being political, right?" Based on this pure thought, the practitioners put down their fear of the CCP's political movements and went to Beijing to appeal in an open and dignified manner. They requested that the government give them an environment to cultivate according to their principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance, and stop the situation from becoming worse.
Apparently, under the CCP's totalitarian rule, such a reasonable request was too much to wish for.
Look at the integrity crisis in today's China. The past ten years have witnessed a rapid decline in morality, as more and more people have put their faith in money. This is the direct result of the persecution of Falun Gong. Faith has become a controversial subject. On the surface, activities at temples are open and popular, but the activities there have deviated from the fundamental nature of religious activities. Ending the persecution of Falun Gong and allowing people to freely be good and have the right to believe in Truth-Compassion-Forbearance is China's only way out.