(Minghui.org) Over 10,000 Falun Dafa practitioners gathered outside the National Appeals Office on April 25, 1999, near the Zhongnanhai government compound in Beijing.

The Public Security Bureau had begun harassing practitioners as early as in 1994. Luo Gan, then head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), had been looking for excuses to ban the spiritual practice since 1997, but his efforts were unsuccessful until April 1999.

Luo’s brother-in-law, He Zuoxiu, was a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Science and a close follower of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He published an article in Science and Technology for Youth (a magazine published by the Tianjin College of Education) in April 11, 1999. In the article, he fabricated stories about Falun Dafa, claiming the practice led to mental illness, and implied that it could become an organization similar to the Boxers, who led a rebellion in the 19th century that wreaked havoc across China.

Because they benefited so much from Falun Dafa, practitioners in Tianjin wished to clear up the slander. They went to the Tianjin College of Education between April 18 and 24 to talk to the magazine editors and tried to dispel the negative influence of the article. However, the Tianjin Public Security Bureau dispatched over 300 riot police on April 23-24, who beat the practitioners and arrested 45 of them.

When other practitioners went to the Tianjin city government to seek their release, they were told that the Ministry of Public Security was involved, and that they could not release the practitioners without approval from Beijing. Tianjin police told practitioners, “Go to Beijing. Only Beijing can solve the problem.”

On the night of April 24 other practitioners and I decided to go to Beijing the following morning. My husband shook his head solemnly when I told him my decision. “You should reconsider this. The Communist Party is not forgiving. What about those college students (on Tiananmen Square in 1989)? They only asked for anti-corruption, not anti-Party, but they were bloodily suppressed!” He said.

I knew the consequences of speaking up against the CCP but my decision was made. I quietly got up shortly after 2:00 a.m. the following morning. “You’re still going?” my husband asked. Obviously, he didn’t sleep well. “Yes, I think it’s my responsibility to go,” I said.

I joined the other practitioners, and we rode to the center of Beijing on our bikes. We merged into a stream of people riding and walking in the same direction, all Falun Dafa practitioners.

We didn’t know where the appeals office was but we knew there was a large parking lot at the entrance of Beihai Park. The road was lined with police patrol cars with their lights flashing. The police organized people into groups and then one police officer would lead one group.

We followed a police officer for a while, making left and right turns, until we came to a place. He told us to stand there, and then he left. Behind us was a somewhat damaged ancient blue brick wall, in front of us was a wide street, and on the opposite side of that street was the red wall of Zhongnanhai. Practitioners stood along the wall and left the sidewalk open so pedestrians could pass by.

Everyone stood silently. After a long time, the practitioners began to take turns standing in front. During the rotation, the practitioners in the back pulled the back of the clothes of the practitioners standing in front, and the practitioners in the front silently retreated to the back to meditate or read the Fa. The practitioners who stood in the front read Zhuan Falun or silently recited the Fa.

I didn’t have breakfast, but I was neither thirsty nor hungry. I forgot to bring my watch, so I didn’t know what time it was. Eventually a message came from the east: Premier Zhu Rongji returned and ordered to bring in a few practitioners to meet with him. Everyone silently waited for the result.

Not far to the west, there was a narrow alley on the north side. Entering the alley, there was a large number of private houses. All the doors and windows were closed, and no sound could be heard from them. It was obvious that they had received notification beforehand. There was a public toilet near these houses. I saw a few practitioners were cleaning and flushing the toilets, and keeping the toilets clean. A short distance to the left of the toilet was a simple canteen. The door was open and there were a few people inside quietly eating. We bought some food and ate there, and then hurriedly returned to the line.

After returning to the line, a loudspeaker began urging practitioners to disperse quickly. We ignored it and kept standing silently. A fellow practitioner told me in a low voice that a convoy had just passed by, and one practitioner who was in the army recognized a bulletproof vehicle in the motorcade. One of the vehicles was recording video footage or taking photos. I later learned that the motorcade belonged to Jiang Zemin who hid in the bulletproof car and observed us.

Suddenly, some practitioners exclaimed, “Look, Falun!” We all looked up at the sky. I saw many colorful Falun emerging from the sun and landing on the trees, walls, roofs, and streets. The police officers standing opposite us also looked up. They obviously didn’t see anything, so they curiously looked back at us. This wonderful, extraordinary, and spectacular sight lasted for only a few minutes, but it will remain in my memory forever.

After a while, the negotiators came out. I learned that Tianjin had released the practitioners.

As night fell, the practitioners left quickly. Before leaving, we checked the surroundings carefully. We picked up any trash, including the cigarette butts thrown down by the police, and took the trash away with us. We reminded each other: It’s late at night, don’t go alone, we must go together.

Quickly, thousands of Falun Dafa practitioners disappeared into the darkness, leaving behind only clean streets.

Background: What Is the April 25 Appeal?

Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) 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 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 improved health and well-being.

On April 23 & 24, 1999, police officials in Tianjin, a city near Beijing, assaulted and arrested dozens of practitioners who had gathered outside a magazine office to discuss errors in a recently-published article attacking Falun Dafa. As word spread of the arrests and more practitioners inquired with officials, they were told they had to take their appeals to Beijing.

The following day, April 25, some 10,000 Falun Dafa practitioners spontaneously gathered at the Central Appeals office in Beijing, as they had been instructed by Tianjin officials. The gathering was peaceful and orderly. Several Falun Dafa representatives were called in to meet with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, and members of his staff. That evening, practitioners’ concerns were answered. The arrested practitioners in Tianjin were released and everyone went home.

Jiang Zemin, former head of the CCP, perceived the spiritual discipline's growing popularity as a threat to the CCP’s atheistic ideology and issued an order to ban Falun Dafa on July 20, 1999.

Minghui.org has confirmed the deaths of thousands of practitioners due to the persecution over the years; the actual number is suspected 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.