(Minghui.org) The following article was written on July 20, marking the 21st year of the persecution of Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong).
In July 1999, former CCP (Chinese Communist Party) leader Jiang Zemin initiated the persecution of Falun Gong that is still ongoing. From July 20th onward, Falun Gong practitioners went to Beijing as well as to their municipal and provincial governments to peacefully petition the authorities for their constitutional right to practice their belief. Although decades have passed, the memories of those earliest peaceful protests remain eternally in my heart.
I was 16 years old in 1999, and had just graduated from junior high school. I could never have imagined that during that seemingly ordinary summer, I would face one of the biggest decisions I would ever make–one that would change my life.
On the morning of July 21, 1999, practitioners learned that the CCP had launched a campaign of lies and slander against Falun Dafa in order to ban the practice. To let the government know the truth and to protect Chinese citizens' constitutional right to freedom of belief, several practitioners and I traveled to the provincial Party committee.
We arrived around noon and many practitioners, both young and elderly, were already gathered there. Both sides of Renmin Street were lined with practitioners. Everyone stood on the sidewalk. Some were sharing cultivation experiences, others simply stood quietly. We did not obstruct traffic. Shortly after we arrived, we heard that several practitioners had gone inside and were discussing the situation.
We waited a very long time but there was no news. While we waited, several cars drove up and parked on both sides of the road. Plainclothes police officers came out and began dragging, kicking and beating practitioners. Their attitude was violent and rude. The other practitioners and I were forced into a vehicle.
That first day, we were taken to a police academy some distance from the city. When we got out of the car we noticed that hundreds of practitioners were already there–sitting on the academy training ground. Practitioners kept arriving and by evening, the entire space was filled with practitioners. Every practitioner who came out of a vehicle calmly took a seat on the ground. The atmosphere was very quiet and orderly.
I still remember that sitting not far from me was a young engaged couple. The woman was a teacher and there were also two male high school students sitting close by. The scorching summer sun in Changchun was unbearably hot. We quietly sat on the baking hot training ground but no one complained. Some practitioners started to recite Zhuan Falun. It was very peaceful. A few practitioners went to clarify the situation to those responsible there. But, after several hours they hadn’t returned. In the afternoon armed police arrived carrying guns. They guarded the main entrance. They seemed tense. There were also plainclothes officers patrolling outside the academy.
The tense atmosphere didn’t frighten us. Fellow practitioners continued reciting the Fa. We had no fear. We were all steadfast and calm. Everyone’s thoughts were simple. We just wanted to tell the government about Falun Dafa and why practitioners wanted to practice cultivation. Little did we practitioners know that the brutal persecution of Falun Dafa, orchestrated by Jiang Zemin’s regime, had already begun.
We sat at the police academy the entire first day. The practitioners who were the first to arrive were unprepared. Many people had nothing to eat. By afternoon, a few practitioners used their own money and bought water and bread to share with everyone.
When evening came, the police and armed police gradually left. Although they were very fierce while surrounding us in the afternoon, they did not do anything to us. Thinking back now, I feel it was because our righteous thoughts disintegrated anything negative. Practitioners felt that we shouldn’t just sit there and passively wait, so around 10:00 p.m., we were led out by a practitioner who knew the way. We helped each other through the darkened streets as we walked for hours until we arrived back in Changchun city.
Although we had been under the scorching sun for an entire day and many of us had nothing to eat, we didn’t feel tired. Instead, I felt quite relaxed. With a light breeze blowing, I felt lighthearted in a way that was difficult to describe.
When we arrived back at the provincial Party Committee building, it was after midnight. The practitioners that I'd traveled with agreed that we would rest at a practitioner’s home and return the next day. A few practitioners whom I didn’t recognize decided to sit at the building entrance until morning.
The second day, which was July 22, we were back at the building before dawn. We saw many practitioners from out of town who had traveled overnight to be there. We decided to wait. By morning, the streets surrounding the building were lined with practitioners, many more than the day before; they overflowed onto the sidewalks and alleys nearby.
We were just as orderly as the day before and did not block pedestrians or vehicles. We noticed that there were many more police officers than the day before and many plainclothes officers were walking around. Later, the police and the military police put up caution tape on the street in front of the building; some were talking on their walkie-talkies. The atmosphere was much more tense than the day before.
At approximately 8 or 9 a.m., the police started to round up practitioners into the police vehicles and prepared to drive them away. We'd learned from our experience the day before and none of us complied. We told them that we were there to clarify the truth about Falun Dafa, and we would not leave until we had a conversation with the leadership. So we just locked arms with each other. The police then began to yank and drag us into the vans, while kicking and beating us. Some of us jumped out of the vehicles by pushing the doors open while others refused to go into the vehicles by holding onto the doors. In groups of 3-5, the police officers forcibly carried practitioners into the vehicles.
Faced with this police brutality, practitioners did not hit or talk back. Those in front protected those behind. Everyone locked arms and stood shoulder to shoulder forming layers of human shields. At the same time, they called out to the police, asking them to stop the brutality. Later, when the police vans filled with practitioners began driving away, some of us went through the caution tape and sat on the street or simply stood there forming a barricade to prevent the vehicles from moving forward. It was a quite a scene; even the police officers were amazed.
Many practitioners were dragged into the vans in the end. I, along with many others, was taken to Nanling Stadium. As I stepped out, I saw that the stadium was filled with practitioners. Some were elderly, others were children, still others were office workers, there was even a pregnant woman; basically people from all walks of life. It was impossible to tell how many there were. Like the day before, everyone just quietly sat on the ground. I saw many familiar faces–they had been locked up at the police academy with me the day before.
Around noon, an unforgettable scene appeared. A university student pointed to the sky with a huge smile on his face. He said, “Look up there!” We all looked up and many practitioners shouted “Master!” In the middle of the clear sky, there was a white cloud. Many of us saw Master’s Fashen (law body) and the tears streamed down our cheeks...
Later, we were taken to an elementary school near People’s Square. Despite our great efforts over the past two days to reach out to the authorities to clarify the truth, no one came out to listen. Towards evening, having been away from home for two days, I decided that there was no point for us to stay and wait in vain. Thinking that my family might be worried about me, I took a taxi and went home.
From then on, the CCP waged an unprecedented, cruel persecution against Falun Dafa practitioners. Many have been illegally incarcerated and their homes ransacked. They were kidnapped, had money extorted, they were tortured or even killed. Some lost their jobs or were expelled from universities. Some even had their organs harvested while alive! This is humanity's crisis of the centuries. This evil persecution has gone on for 21 years and is still happening.
Morality and courage are the most precious qualities human beings have. Faced with the brutal persecution, Falun Dafa practitioners have been following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance and have responded to the injustice and authoritarian regime with Truthfulness, Compassion, perseverance, peacefulness, and high moral character. They have safeguarded mankind's most precious qualities for everyone. I am honored to be part of this group. Despite the long-term brutal persecution we have endured, we have not been frightened off, nor have we given in or compromised. We are still doing what we believe to be the most righteous – to persistently clarify the truth about the persecution to the world’s people and help them see the true nature of the CCP so they can avoid being implicated for its crimes. We want people to be safe and have a bright future.
For 21 years, with the persistent efforts of practitioners around the world, more and more people have come to realize how evil this persecution is. More and more people are joining in the efforts to resist it, and have come to realize the true nature of the CCP and have chosen to stay away from it. To this date, close to 360 million people have publicly withdrawn from the CCP and its associated organizations. Instead of being cowed by the brutal persecution, Falun Dafa is practiced in over one hundred countries and regions by over 100 million people. It has received over 3,600 proclamations, resolutions, and letters of congratulations.
History has demonstrated that seemingly powerful regimes do not last long. During this persecution, righteousness and evil are in full display. People can choose between right and wrong. We hope that everyone will seize this precious opportunity and make a responsible choice for themselves.