(Minghui.org) With the 17th anniversary of the April 25, 1999 peaceful appeal by Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing, it is important to analyze all factors, such as what it was, why it happened, and what it means to the world.

Peaceful Appeal

Despite the popularity of Falun Gong and its benefits to society, Jiang Zemin, the former head of the communist regime, decided to ban it in July 1999.

In fact, attacks on Falun Gong began several months earlier, with one being a defamatory article published by a magazine in Tianjin, a major city near Beijing. When practitioners went to the publisher to clarify the issue, riot police attacked, injured many, and arrested 45 practitioners on April 23, 1999.

When practitioners asked Tianjin City officials for a clarification of the incident, they were told that it was on an order from Beijing's Ministry of Public Security.

“If you want those arrested practitioners to be released, you have to go to Beijing,” said officials to the practitioners.

This led to the April 25 appeal in Beijing, in which about 10,000 practitioners participated. Then-Premier Zhu Rongji met with practitioners, and the issue was peacefully resolved. It went so smoothly that many western media viewed it as an improvement in China's political environment.

Even police officers were surprised by the practitioners' character. Because practitioners picked up garbage on the street and even cigarette butts left by police, one officer said to another, “We sometimes talk about virtue. What we saw today is virtue!”

Fundamental Rights: Practicing One's Belief

Some outsiders were unclear why practitioners went to appeal. Some even questioned whether it was worth the effort, especially since the Party showed no mercy during previous political campaigns.

For practitioners, the answer was simple: since they and society benefited from Falun Gong, they did so to safeguard their fundamental rights granted by the Chinese Constitution—freedom of belief.

During the 1999 appeal, practitioners asked the government to 1) release practitioners arrested earlier in Tianjin, 2) permit the printing of Falun Gong books, and 3) stop interfering with practitioners doing the Falun Gong exercises. These were issues that practitioners had faced in different cities.

Many years have passed, and practitioners still have no hidden or political agenda.

Since last May, hundreds of thousands of criminal complaints have been filed against Jiang Zemin for persecuting Falun Gong. They ask that the government 1) apologize to Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, 2) release detained practitioners and restore their reputation, 3) permit the printing of Falun Gong books and produce audiovisual materials, 4) stop interfering with practitioners doing the exercises, 5) hold Jiang and other key perpetrators responsible for the persecution, and 6) remedy practitioners' losses.

That is, Falun Gong practitioners simply ask for their fundamental right under the Constitution to practice their faith.

Key Issue: No Personal Interest

Since the onset of the suppression in July 1999, all that Falun Gong practitioners were asking for were not for personal interest; rather, everything focuses on the general well-being of society.

During the appeal, practitioners did not call out slogans. They even voluntarily cleaned the site before leaving. When Jiang banned Falun Gong in July 1999 and practitioners were held in stadiums, it was raining in some cities, and some police officers did not have an umbrella. Practitioners gave their umbrellas to the officers.

Many times, practitioners thought only about and acted on the needs of others. From the peaceful appeal to opposing the persecution, from raising awareness of the human rights violations to suing Jiang, Falun Gong practitioners acted only in the interest of society. Many practitioners sacrificed a lot. They lost their jobs, were arrested and detained, and saw their families broken apart.

All of this is because practitioners know that, by improving their health and moral character, they have become role models for a sustainable society and the betterment of mankind. For this, they do not give up their belief, even when facing the harsh persecution.

Justice Will Prevail

A communist party secretary told me, “Because the Party is too corrupt, Chinese people have lost hope, and it has led to the moral degradation of society.”

It is quite obvious that the communist regime is against the common good and traditional values. Thus, it suppresses Falun Gong, whose practitioners follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

When the Party banned Falun Gong in 1999, many people thought Falun Gong would not last long under the totalitarian regime. However, 17 years have passed, and a large number of people inside and outside of China have learned the truth because of the efforts of practitioners.

This peaceful meditation is practiced by people in more than 100 countries; Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, has been published in more than 30 languages.

Many top Party officials involved in the persecution have recently been investigated, arrested, and incarcerated. More than 230 million Chinese people have now renounced their membership in the Party and its affiliated organizations.