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Back in 1999, China witnessed one of the largest movements by its citizens appealing for the protection of their rights. More than ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered near the main Communist Party compound in Beijing. But the authorities labeled their peaceful gathering as a "political incident"--and used it to justify a massive crackdown. Now, twelve years later, Falun Gong practitioners are calling for an end to ongoing persecution.
In Europe, Asia and the United States over the weekend, Falun Gong practitioners marked the 12th anniversary of the largest peaceful demonstration in China in 20 years. That demonstration, on April 25, 1999, was followed three months later by a violent crackdown—when the Chinese Communist Party launched a campaign to arrest and torture Falun Gong practitioners.
On Saturday, practitioners like Xu Yan in Brussels used the anniversary to call for an end to the ongoing persecution.
[Xu Yan, Falun Gong Practitioner]:
"Many Falun Gong practitioners are still being persecuted, and this in fact poses a test of conscience for people everywhere."
During the appeal, five practitioners met with then-premier Zhu Rongji. They asked for a lawful environment to continue their practice.
The April 25th appeal ended peacefully, after Zhu seemed to reach a resolution with Falun Gong practitioners. But the leader of the Communist Party at the time—Jiang Zemin—declared war against the spiritual practice. A few months later, the communist regime launched an extensive persecution—one that continues today. The Falun Dafa Information Center has documented more than three thousand deaths from abuse and torture.
But for these Falun Gong practitioners around the world—there's hope. Hope that by raising awareness, the persecution will end soon.