(Minghui.org) April 25, 2023, was the 24th anniversary of the peaceful appeal by 10,000 Falun Dafa practitioners in Beijing. Around 4,000 practitioners gathered in Flushing, New York, on April 23 for a rally and parade to call on people to stop the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of Falun Dafa. Local residents and tourists from all walks of life stopped to watch the parade.
The parade consisted of three sections. The first section theme was “Falun Dafa is good.” Holding banners that read “Falun Dafa” and “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance,” practitioners marched along Main Street, the busiest section in Flushing. The second section focused on the CCP’s brutal persecution and crimes of organ harvesting, calling for an end to these atrocities. The third section featured the “Quit the CCP movement,” which was sparked by the publication of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. To date, over 400 million Chinese nationals have withdrawn their memberships in the CCP and its affiliated organizations.
Mr. Li, who came to the U.S. a month ago, said it was the first time he’d ever seen a Falun Dafa activity, and said he wondered why the practice appeared to be so different from how the media reports in China portrayed it. The people in the parade looked calm and friendly. He said that life was not easy for people in China and the CCP’s totalitarian rule should come to an end.
Ms. Li (no relation) from Hubei Province, China, was with her children who are studying in the U.S. She had also never seen a Falun Dafa event before, and wondered why it was different from what she heard about it in China. There were so many practitioners in the parade, and it was so long that you could not see the end of it. When she learned that practitioners were being tortured for refusing to give up the practice, she said the right to one’s own belief is a personal choice, and should not be persecuted. She hoped to learn more about Falun Dafa.
Ms. Wang took her granddaughter to see the parade. The girl was excited to see the float and celestial maidens. Ms. Wang said that she had many friends who practiced Falun Dafa, so she knew that the persecution was just another example of how terrible the CCP is.
Another Mr. Li, who is elderly, said he moved to the U.S. from Taiwan many years ago. He does not practice Falun Dafa but comes out to watch the April 25 parade every year. He said he loved the event, especially the songs played by the Tian Guo Marching Band. They struck a chord with him because the music was so good and the energy field is strong. He often reads the Epoch Times newspaper and knew about the CCP’s state-sanctioned forced organ harvesting. He was shocked initially and could not believe such terrible things were actually taking place. But he followed the news reports over a period of time and realized it is true. He thought the CCP was extremely evil. A woman from China standing next to him said she’d joined the Young Pioneers (a CCP organization) in the past but did not think it was necessary to withdraw her membership since she was living in the U.S. Mr. Li kept encouraging her to renounce her membership.
Mr. Zhu, who came to America a few years ago, said he was influenced by the CCP’s propaganda and indoctrination, and once had narrow views on patriotism and nationalism. However, he continued to search for the truth and thanked the Falun Dafa practitioners for inventing the Freegate software that helped him break through the Internet censorship in China. He was able to read news that was censored by the CCP, and realized that Falun Dafa practitioners were innocent but oppressed. He said he would try his best to expose the CCP’s evildoings.
Mr. Wan from China observed that the CCP’s usual tactic is to deceive people. It encourages people to care for the elderly and the young, but in reality many elderly people in China cannot afford medical care. School fees are exorbitant and many children cannot afford to go to school. In the same way, he noted, the regime fabricates lies to vilify Falun Dafa in its persecution campaign. If Falun Dafa was so bad in China, why was it popular overseas? This was a grand parade, and so many people saw it, took photos, clapped, and took video recordings. In his opinion, the truth is that the CCP is afraid of Falun Dafa’s increasing popularity.
Ms. Yang, who came to the U.S. three years ago said she’d heard of Falun Dafa before and knew that the practice helped people improve their health and wellbeing, so she’d always had a good impression of it. However, she never found out more about the practice. When she was told of the extent of the cruelties faced by practitioners in China, she said the CCP was wicked. She said its behavior went against God’s will, and that everyone should stand up to stop it. She praised Falun Dafa for being a virtuous faith and admired practitioners’ strong conviction in the face of such brutal treatment.
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, and Forbearance, as well as five gentle exercises—and experienced improved health and well-being.
On April 23 and 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 appeal 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.
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