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A mass appeal, thirteen years of persecution and numerous lawsuits are all culminating in the current political struggle within China's Communist Party. That was the message from a press conference by the Washington, DC Falun Dafa Association on Monday. It marks the 13th anniversary of the April 25th Appeal in 1999, which saw 10,000 Chinese citizens peacefully appeal in Beijing for their freedom of belief. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a traditional spiritual practice that teaches the principles of "Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance."
It grew hugely popular since first being taught to the public in 1992, but certain leaders within the Communist Party began fearing it could compete with its ideological viewpoints. In April 1999, a group of practitioners in Tianjin were beaten and arrested by police when they raised concerns over a magazine article that slandered Falun Gong. This led to the mass appeal on April 25. The appeal was significant for several reasons. It was the largest citizen appeal in China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest. The entire process was peaceful, but became a pretext for a 13-year long persecution. And, according to Jared Pearman, representative of the Falun Dafa Information Center, it ties into the current political struggle within the Communist Party.
[Jared Pearman, Representative of the Falun Dafa Information Center]:
"Also, making today really important is that the people who used that appeal at Zhongnanhai really catalyzed the persecution against Falun Gong to twist the truth and create an architect this persecution that we see ongoing in China today are the same people that are at the center of this political scandal that we see in Beijing."