(Minghui.org) Falun Gong practitioners in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, held activities in front of the Cologne Cathedral on April 22, 2023, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the April 25 Peaceful Appeal. People expressed their support for the practitioners’ effort to raise awareness about and call for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of the spiritual practice.

Cologne Cathedral is located on a pedestrian street in the city center, next to the Cologne Railway Station, a major transfer station in Europe. Many passersby and tourists walk through the square in front of the church. On Saturday, practitioners set up tables, unfurled large banners, demonstrated the exercises, and collected signatures.

They also asked people to hold up a placard that read “Stop the persecution of Falun Gong in China” and “Commemorate April 25” for photos. When the people learned that these photos would appear on social media to help Falun Gong practitioners spread the word, many willingly held up the signs and had their photo taken.

Practitioners demonstrate the exercises in front of the Cologne Cathedral on April 22.People read the display boards.Listening to practitioners explain

The practitioners also prepared a signature display board to commemorate the April 25 Appeal. After people signed the petition, they could then use colored pens to sign the display board. The colorful signatures on the display board caught the attention of many passersby. Many people stopped to learn more about Falun Gong.

People sign the display board to mark the anniversary of the April 25 Appeal.

People Sign the Display Board

Aslan with the signature display board after she signed it

When Aslan saw the event, she signed the petition. She said, “I often see Falun Gong activities, such as in Dortmund, Bochum, and Frankfurt. I have seen them meditating, so I know something about Falun Gong and the persecution.”

Gudrun stopped by on her bicycle and hung three small lotus flowers with the words “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance” on her handlebars. When a practitioner asked her if she would take a photo with a placard that read “Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong,” she readily agreed. A practitioner explained that practitioners live by the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and Gudrun said, “I think these principles are very good. I hope I can also practice them.”

After learning about the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong, three young women from Duisburg who were visiting Cologne held up a placard and took pictures. One of them said, “Knowing that such a cruel thing is happening, of course we will do something [to help].”

Timo with the placard that reads “Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong”

When Timo came by, it was raining, so the practitioners asked him to step into the tent while they talked to him about the persecution. He said, “I was surprised to see that you still do the exercises so calmly when it rains, so I came over to have a look.” After learning about the CCP’s persecution, he said, “What is happening in China is so terrible. If I can do something [to help], of course I will.”

Signing the Display Board to Support Falun Gong

A woman drew a big heart in the middle of the autograph panel commemorating the April 25th Appeal and said, “When I heard that those who are being persecuted are good people who follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, I felt very sad. I thought, what better way to express my sympathy for those people than drawing a heart on the display board. Although we are far apart, our hearts are connected.”

A Chinese man from Vietnam signed the panel with his Chinese name Ming and said, “I have heard of many tragedies under the CCP’s rule, so, although I can speak Cantonese, I rarely go to China. I think you have done a good job. I hope my signature can help you.”

A young mother pushing a stroller told a practitioner, “When I think of the CCP’s persecution and the many parents who have lost their children and the many happy families that have been torn apart, I feel sad. More people should come here to sign.”

More People Should Know About the Persecution

Michel takes photos of event.

Michel stayed at the event for more than half an hour and took many photos from different angles.

He told a practitioner that his dream was to be a photojournalist: “I want to major in that at a university in Cologne, and I came to see the school today. After visiting the university, I wanted to stop by the Cologne Cathedral. I think your exercise music is very nice, so I came over to take a look.”

He told the practitioner that, although he had never heard of qigong, he could feel the tranquility when practitioners were doing the exercises, so he took many photos.

Michel explained why he signed the petition: “I’ve heard of this kind of human rights abuse, and I think I should sign to express my view.” Before he left, he said, “I will build my own website and put today’s photos on the site to let more people know about this.”

“I Know What Life Is Like Under Authoritarian Rule”

Llona with the placard

After Llona, who lived in the former East Germany, learned a little bit about Falun Gong and the persecution, she immediately expressed her willingness to hold up a placard and take a photo. She said, “I have relatives in Taiwan. so I am concerned about what happens in China. I have seen information about Falun Gong and the persecution on the Internet.”

When she learned that the event was to commemorate the April 25 Peaceful Appeal, she said, “I am from the former East Germany, and I know what life is like under authoritarian rule.”

She said that it was important to speak up for those who are being persecuted, “Some people will turn a blind eye to the suffering of others and think they are doing well, but they may become the victims one day.”

She expressed her admiration for the way that Falun Gong practitioners in China have peacefully protested the persecution and tried to clarify the truth for 24 years: “I know how much courage it takes to resist autocratic rule. When we participated in a march [in the former East Germany], I dared not even tell our relatives, for fear that they would be implicated. I hope my photo can help [end the persecution]. I am willing to have photos taken to support you.”

Practitioners said they were encouraged by how kind people were in actively cooperating with raising awareness about the persecution and hoped that more people could see the power of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance on social media platforms.