(Minghui.org) More than 1000 Falun Gong practitioners held a candlelight vigil on July 16, 2021, at the U.S. Capital, Washington DC. As night fell, practitioners quietly gathered in front of the Washington Monument. They raised their candles in solemn remembrance of practitioners who were persecuted to death for refusing to give up their spiritual belief. 

On July 16, 2021, approximately 2000 Falun Gong practitioners participated in a candlelight vigil in Washington D.C.

Practitioners did the exercises in front of the Washington Monument before the candlelight vigil.

As night fell, practitioners lit candles to mourn practitioners who were persecuted to death for their faith.

Among those who attended the activities, many personally experienced the persecution while others had family members who were victims of the suppression. They said despite the ongoing brutal persecution, their faith in Falun Gong remains unwavering. They all feel a great responsibility to tell people about the atrocities and they wish to offer humanity hope.

Young Woman Who Lost Father to Persecution: A Chance to Speak Up

Xu Xinyang, 19, attends school in another state. She drove more than two hours to join her mother in Washington DC so they could attend the candlelight vigil together. She said, “My father was killed for his belief. I came here today to remember him.”

Xu Xinyang (left) and her mother Chi Lihua (right) hold photos of Xu Dawei who was tortured to death for his belief.

Xu Xinyang’s father Xu Dawei was sentenced to 8 years in prison for producing Falun Gong materials. By the time he was released from jail he suffered a mental collapse and was emaciated. He died less than two weeks later at the age of 34.

“Other people have fathers, but not me. When I look back, it makes me proud that my father did not give up his belief despite being imprisoned and abused for such a long time,” she said. 

Looking at the portraits of other practitioners who were tortured to death held by practitioners around her, Xu said, “I always thought I had suffered the most from the persecution. Today, seeing so many practitioners holding photos of the victims, there is a story behind every face—all of them were brutally tortured. Perhaps they suffered even more than me except that today I have a chance to speak out and do something about it.”

Faith in Dafa Helped Woman Endure Darkest Moments

“I would bring my father’s portrait to candlelight vigils held every year,” said Stephanie Zhang, a practitioner as she looked at her father’s photo with tears in her eyes.

Falun Gong practitioner Stephanie Zhang held a portrait of her father Zhang Shouren.

Ms. Zhang’s father Zhang Shouren was a factory supervisor before he retired. After he started to practice Falun Gong in 1997, his hereditary high blood pressure and heart problems disappeared.

On July 20, 1999, Jiang Zemin who was the CCP head at that time, launched a campaign to persecute Falun Gong. Zhang Shouren, 65 and his wife went to Tiananmen Square in October 2000 to appeal for Dafa. He was arrested and spent over 3 months sleeping on the floor in the harsh Northern winter. During his detention, he was beaten and his body collapsed. Several months later, his wife was arrested again. Zhang Shouren passed away in August 2001 from the tremendous mental pressure. 

Ms. Zhang's mother was arrested, her father died, and the university where she taught in China kept pressuring her to write a statement renouncing her faith. Every day she lived under great stress. “This persecution made me see clearly the true nature of the CCP. The CCP resorted to all means to persecute a group of people who live by the principles of ‘Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance.’ It goes to show how evil the regime is.” 

It was her faith that helped her make it through the toughest moments in life. “One cannot endure such hardship. I had only one thought: there is nothing wrong in believing in God and having a spiritual belief.”

Tsinghua University Graduate: I Want to Safeguard Hope in Humanity

Wang Xin, a Tsinghua university graduate was sentenced to 9 years in prison in China.

Wang Xin, a Tsinghua university graduate was 25 when he was incarcerated by the CCP. He went through inhumane torture for 9 years in prison and his PhD was revoked.

He was constantly tortured physically and mentally in prison. He was slapped in the face, his chest was pierced with bamboo chopsticks, his hair pulled out, he was shocked with electric batons and made to read materials vilifying Falun Gong. He went on a hunger strike to protest the persecution for more than 300 days.

One day, while he was on a hunger strike, guards shocked him with electric batons and force fed him salt water. He recalled, “The electric batons made a loud sound when they struck my body but I did not utter a word. The guard thought the baton was faulty and struck the bed with it. When they found that it was working properly, they continued to electrocute my hands and legs. The whole room was exceptionally quiet. One could only hear the crackling sounds of the baton. The convicts were frightened. Then they fed me strong salt water and forbade me from spitting it out. If I vomited it out, they would continue to force feed me.”

A week later, Wang Xin’s lungs had two holes from the electric shocks. He became unconscious and could not control his bowels or urine.

During his 9 years in jail, 500 Falun Gong practitioners around Wang Xin were tortured to death by prison guards. One of them died from the severe beatings.

Wang Xin said, “Many practitioners paid with their lives. Now, there are still many who are tortured in the CCP's prisons in China. But we know that one day light will appear and it's not far away.”

“Only Mr. Li Hongzhi has been able to help such a large group of people improve their moral standards and physical health within a short period of time. Dafa has brought hope to humanity. Whether it is for ourself or for those who have benefited, we must safeguard this hope.” 

“More and more people have become Falun Dafa practitioners. As more realize the truth about the persecution and sign the petition to oppose it, this suppression will end. However, we must persist in the process and put in effort, someone has to walk in front.”

Calling on the U.S. Government to Stop the Persecution

Hunter Mackay a university student said he witnessed the CCP’s tyranny while he lived in China for 3 years.

Hunter Mackay a university student from Utah heard about Falun Gong for the first time when encountering this event. He was immediately very interested to know more and explained that he lived in China for 3 years with his father who is a foreign diplomat. He said, “We had the opportunity to witness the CCP’s oppression firsthand. We saw how Communist ideology destroyed the whole country and people are begging for freedom.”

“The CCP has not been punished for brutally suppressing its own people. America needs to adopt a tougher stance as a beacon for the entire free world and stop the CCP from treating its people like this. They are violating the rights of their own people and this must be stopped.”

Barry Liberon a doctor who treats severe illnesses learned about organ harvesting for the first time. 

Barry Liberon from Texas is a doctor who treats severe illnesses. This was the first time he’d heard that the organs of Falun Gong practitioners are removed without consent. He said he would research the topic when he got home and said the organ harvesting is a very serious problem.

Background: What is Falun Gong?

Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) was first introduced to the public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China in 1992. The spiritual discipline is now practiced in over 100 countries and regions worldwide. Millions of people have embraced the teachings—which are based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance as well as five gentle exercises—and experienced uplifted health and well-being.

Jiang Zemin, former head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), perceived the spiritual discipline's growing popularity as a threat to the CCP's atheistic ideology and on July 20, 1999, issued an order to ban the practice.

Minghui.org has confirmed the deaths of thousands of practitioners as a result of the persecution over the past 22 years. The actual number is believed to be much higher. More have been imprisoned and tortured for their faith.

There is concrete evidence that the CCP sanctions the harvesting of organs from detained practitioners, who are murdered to supply the organ transplant industry.

Under Jiang's personal direction, the CCP established the 610 Office, an extralegal security organization with the power to override the police and judicial systems and whose sole function is to carry out the persecution of Falun Dafa.

Chinese version available

Category: July 20 Events