(Minghui.org) At about 5:00 a.m. on July 20, 1999, Falun Gong practitioners from all over the neighborhood gathered in front of the rock garden at Hengshui City People’s Park in Hebei Province.

Practitioners lined up in neat rows as the serene exercise music began playing. Arms rose and fell smoothly according to the exercise movements, and the entire park was bathed in peace and tranquility.

The atmosphere in the park then suddenly changed, as uniformed and plainclothes police started dispersing the practitioners, yelling at the top of their lungs, “Falun Gong has been banned by the central authority. You are no longer allowed to do exercises here.”

We couldn’t believe our ears. How could this be possible? Falun Gong teaches us to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, to be good people. How could that be wrong? Countless people have been freed of their illnesses, and improved their behavior through practicing Falun Gong.

We believed that there must be a misunderstanding, and that we needed to tell the central government about how we have personally experienced and benefited from the practice.

With these thoughts in mind, we rushed to Beijing, but before we could get out of the Beijing train station, we were intercepted by police and taken to Fengtai Stadium.

The stadium was filled with practitioners from all over the country. They greeted our arrival with loud applause, which warmed our hearts and raised our spirits.

We settled down and joined them in studying the Fa.

The sound of our reading was sweet music to my ears. It drowned out all the other noises and reverberated around the stadium. I felt tall and proud.

Our reading was interrupted by an undulating applause. I followed everyone’s gaze and looked up at a sky full of colorful rotating Faluns!

The police came to find out what the commotion was all about. When they couldn’t see anything, they returned to their posts, leaving us alone to continue clapping and reading.

Truckload after truckload of practitioners continued to arrive, and soon there was no more room in the stadium.

The police separated practitioners into groups according to the provinces they were from, and lined us up at the entrance, ready to move us to other locations.

Some practitioners took the opportunity to leave by dispersing in different directions. It took a while for the police, waving their batons and cursing, to round them up and return them to the stadium.

I was put on a truck heading to a school in Langfang. It was getting dark as the truck sped up the highway.

A practitioner started to tell the police guarding us about Falun Gong. Others joined in to relate their personal stories about the benefits they had received from the practice.

One of the police told us in earnest, “When the situation improves, I’ll join the practice.”

The Langfang schoolyard was heavily guarded, and practitioners were treated as criminals. “Why aren’t you lined up?” a police officer shouted.

A female practitioner sitting on the ground replied calmly but firmly, “I’m doing the meditation.” Several officers came over and started to man-handle her.

A voice called out, “Fellow practitioners, we should stand with our practitioner!” Other practitioners moved quickly to surround the female practitioner.

Someone started reciting Master’s poem, then others followed:

“In life, nothing sought,In death, regretting naught;Washing away all wrong thought,Buddhahood, with less      adversity, is wrought.” (“Nothing Kept” from Hong Yin)

The verse was repeated, over and over, drowning out all other sounds, sanctifying the night air.

Some dormitory windows opened, and shadows moved. People were watching and listening.

A voice rang out, “I am a Langfang Falun Gong practitioner. I was riddled with all kinds of illnesses before practicing Falun Gong. After I started practicing all my illnesses disappeared.”

Voice after voice continued to ring out. Story after story was being told with feeling and sincerity, of how lives were positively affected and ultimately changed, of how fame and gain were abandoned, and replaced with civil mindedness.

Peace and tranquility descended on the schoolyard. It was as if heaven and earth were quietly listening to practitioners pouring their hearts out.

Another voice rang out, stating that he was a Falun Gong practitioner from Henan Province, and also the county police chief. A police officer yelled, “You are a police chief? You are shaming the entire police force!”

Commotion ensued. A group of police raised their batons and rushed towards the speaking practitioner. The other practitioners nearby quickly formed a protective shield around the speaker, standing shoulder to shoulder.

The police violently struck practitioners with their batons, and kicked them with their heavy boots. But no one felt any pain, and the attackers couldn't break the practitioners’ human shield.

The unrehearsed testimonials continued. Tens of thousands of resonating words fused together to pay tribute to Falun Dafa as the righteous law of the universe, and to pledge adherence to Dafa to the end.

A new moon slid slowly down the horizon. The sky was shrouded with a thin patch of rainbow-colored clouds. Darkness descended.

In the depth of night, Dafa practitioners lay down on the bare ground. Their faces had a look of tranquility and determination. They slowly fell asleep one after another.

Practitioners with their celestial eyes open told us afterwards that the ground was covered with a thick, purplish-red, downy carpet. That could explain why we didn’t feel the hard ground, nor did we feel cold.

On the morning of July 21, the police were rushing back and forth among practitioners, pulling away those that had spoken out the night before.

Each was carried away by four officers and thrown into an awaiting van.

“Don't forget her as well!” someone yelled, pointing to a female practitioner about 30 years old. By her side was a young boy of about seven or eight.

Several officers rushed over. The female practitioner calmly held the hand of her child, saying to him softly, her voice a bit shaky, “Come child. Let’s go! We’ll follow Master home!”

Her heroic demeanor is forever imprinted on my memory.

The sun rose higher in the sky. Practitioners sitting on the burning ground under the scorching sun felt no discomfort, even though we had had no food or water for close to two days. Besides not feeling the heat, we felt no hunger or thirst.

Several children later came from somewhere, carrying parasols, cane sugar, soda, and bread. They walked among us, distributing them to the elderly and female practitioners with children.

The police looked on without interfering. The children went about silently, with sweat streaming down their faces, back and forth, over and over. It was a very touching scene.

That was people’s show of their sympathy and support toward Falun Gong. That was Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance having already been planted in the hearts and souls of everyday people.

Police vans from different locations arrived late in the afternoon, to take us back to our hometowns.

This was 17 years ago, an experience stored deep in my mind. I have often wished that I could meet up with those practitioners to reminisce over these precious memories.