(Minghui.org) Few people outside of China know the meaning of April 25, 1999, with the exception of Falun Dafa practitioners. This day a peaceful protest, which was, in fact, completely opposite of the “Tiananmen Square” violence on June 4, 1989, when the police crushed the students’ demonstration that was meant to end the Chinese people’s oppression by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

Archived footage of April 25, 1999, from the Falun Dafa practitioners’ protest in Beijing

On April 25 twenty-one years ago, close to 10,000 followers of the spiritual practice Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) gathered in front of the National Appeals Office in Beijing to demonstrate peacefully for the ability to practice their religious belief freely and fearlessly. They didn’t have banners or posters and didn’t shout slogans. Instead, they quietly did their meditative exercises or read the principal book of the practice, Zhuan Falun.

Those who came to appeal for their human rights were from all walks of life—students, teachers, farmers, and laborers. They lined up in what seemed to be an endless line. There were many families with children. Then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who supported economic and political reforms, was called in to meet with the practitioners. He invited a few of them to discuss their demands. The meeting was brief, and so was the practitioners’s message:

“Release the unlawfully detained practitioners and let us freely promote the book Zhuan Falun.”

(Zhuan Falun is currently banned in China and Russia). 

In a few hours the Tianjin practitioners were released, and later that same day the protestors received assurance that Zhuan Falun could be freely promoted. All the practitioners returned home peacefully, making sure to properly dispose of all the trash, including the security officers’ cigarette butts. 

Unfortunately, this happy triumph was overshadowed by grim events three months later, when the persecution of Falun Dafa was launched, followed by decades of brutal repression. The April 25 appeal became part of practitioners’ continuing efforts to clarify the truth about Falun Dafa all over the world. These efforts started with residents and passersby in cities and villages throughout all the 114 countries where Falun Dafa is freely practiced, all the way to top government officials, including the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev and the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Bulgarian Dafa practitioners in front of the Chinese Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, on April 25, 2019

Bulgarian Falun Dafa practitioners hold a peaceful appeal every year on that date at the Chinese Embassy in the capital city of Sofia, to remind the Chinese officials that Falun Dafa is good and the persecution is unjust and unlawful. This was the first year that such a demonstration could not take place, due to the Wuhan virus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The practitioners instead decided to ask a few fellow Bulgarian practitioners what the significance of April 25 was for them:

Alexandra, from Sofia: 

Every year since I started the practice, I participated in the April 25 peaceful appeal with other practitioners. We all gather in front of the Chinese Embassy in Sofia. We express silently our inner power and pride with the banners “Falun Dafa Is Good,” “Stop the forced organ harvesting of Falun Dafa practitioners in China.”

Today, when the atrocities and the slanderous propaganda of the communist regime have been exposed and the world knows about them, we will appeal again for peace and justice.

I believe that the good people of the world support Falun Dafa and the way of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. I believe that good will conquer evil. 

Ivelina, from Dobrich

For me, April 25 was a peaceful appeal for human rights. But it also showed the CCP’s brutality and disregard for the law and human rights. Unfortunately, this peaceful appeal turned into a genocide. Why did the CCP virus originate in China? Why is China silent about all its innocent victims since 1989? I’m talking about students, teachers, human rights lawyers, Chinese and foreign journalists and writers, intellectuals, and law-abiding citizens. Why is China silent about the 21-year-long ongoing persecution of the meditative practice Falun Dafa, whose followers live up to the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance? The truth has been exposed and the world is waking up to the just how evil the CCP is.

Georgi, from Kavarna:

On April 25, 1999, close to 10,000 Falun Gong adherents gathered outside the National Appeals Office in Beijing for a peaceful plea to their government. With no security guards, the Chinese Premiere personally came out to speak with them and assured them that from that day forward, they could exercise their right to practice their religious belief and cultivate without interference from the government. 

For me, this shows that even in a totalitarian country like China, it is not impossible to stand up for your rights in a dignified manner.

It also shows that when the intentions are righteous, the goal can be achieved.

Vladimir, from Sofia:

For me, April 25, 1999, symbolizes the heart of a person who wants to cultivate. The peaceful appeal shows the tolerance of the practitioners and their passion to remedy the injustice. To this day, Falun Dafa followers continue to expose the CCP’s brutal and reckless nature, and they are doing it peacefully and persistently.

Dessi, from Sofia: 

For me April 25 is full of emotion. I try to imagine what the practitioners in China felt like back then. First, it was probably shock at the news about the arrests: “Why? What happened? We were all practicing together, what has changed?”

Maybe then came the fear - fear about their safety. Then it came the pain – for those arrested. And then - the hope: the hope that all was probably a big mistake and mistakes could be corrected if the facts were rationally explained. “Armed” with that hope and the indestructible faith in Falun Gong, 10,000 practitioners headed to Beijing to prove to the government that Falun Dafa was good. With pure hearts they appealed to the officials to correct the mistake and release the detainees. And they succeeded… for three months only, until July 20, 1999, when the persecution began.

This senseless persecution has lasted for 21 years. But the good always defeats the evil even if it takes a long time. I believe that that day is near!

Kerka, from Chirpan:

What that day means for me personally: How a righteous and responsible citizen should handle the violation of his human rights; an opportunity to continue traditions by following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance; to stand up for the right to follow my own faith and belief in a free and humane way; and mostly to continue doing what I believe is the meaning of life - to follow the Fa of the universe and to return to our eternal home – heaven.

Delcho, from Plovdiv: 

When this day comes, a painting from “The Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren” (Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance) International Exhibition comes to mind. The story behind the painting was that a young lady was one of the 35 foreign practitioners who peacefully protested by sitting in meditation on Tiananmen Square to support the practitioners being persecuted in China. This woman was beaten and arrested. But instead of being scared, she sang all night long in front of the stunned police officers.

On the left is the painting of the arrested practitioner, singing to the policemen.

This painting shows the faith that overcomes the fear of persecution and torture in the name of the highest principles, Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and upholding them firmly and bravely. Remembering that day motivates me not to forget how precious time is when we can practice freely, unlike our fellow practitioners in China. I want to send a message to all people to appreciate their freedom of belief that we have in Bulgaria and to be compassionate toward the unfortunate ones, who don’t have that luxury.