Peaceful appeal that made history


In the days of New York-Beijing, it was always a little dusty and gray in the memory of Zhang Yi Jie. That day was no exception.

A section chief of the Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, she has just returned from a month-long business trip in Germany. It was the afternoon so I didn’t have time to lose. Instead of having lunch, she unloaded her luggage and answered the phone straight. She was eager to learn the teachings of Falun Gong and get in touch with a group of friends and bass practicing meditation every day.

But no one was found.

Then her director, Shi Guangsheng, made an emergency call to her husband, who also worked in the province. He sprinted to another room and closed the back door.

All of this made Zhang uneasy. She stood on her toes outside the door and heard that a group of Falun Gong practitioners went to Zhongnanhai, a compound of the highest leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

I went to the demonstration and told all the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Trade attending the event to leave immediately, the director told her husband.

On April 25, 1999, the red wall surrounding the Falun Gong Government Building on Falun Boulevard, eventually about 10,000 followers from all over the country, to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa Gather along.

The spiritual training, which was first opened to the public in 1992, spread nationwide by word of mouth, and by 1999, 70 to 100 million people had practiced. Believers could see a slow meditation exercise every morning in parks throughout China. Nonetheless, practitioners have begun to feel more and more pressure from authorities in recent years, banning the distribution of practitioner books, state-owned programs spewing out publicity condemning discipline, and the Public Security Bureau ordering a thorough investigation of practitioners. ..

The Chinese administration later described the April 25 event as a provocative protest to justify a full-scale persecution campaign targeting Falun Gong, which began in July of the same year.

However, Zhang, who immediately rode his bicycle to the Zhongnanhai, saw nothing that threatened the attitude of his followers that day. Proudly, she and many others there recall a long, straight line of practitioners lined up neatly along the street. Many were sitting on the ground to read books or meditate. Some people took plastic bags and patrolled to collect trash from the demonstrators.

Epoch Times Photo
Falun Gong practitioners gathered around the Zhongnanhai and quietly and peacefully appealed for fair treatment on April 25, 1999. (Provided by Minghui.org)

In such a peaceful crowd, people simply feel different, Zhang said.

“When did you see such a petition?” Zhang, who is currently in the United States, said in an interview with The Epoch Times. “The pedestrian roads and trunk roads were all clear. There was no scream at all because there was no piece of paper on the ground.”

Shi Caidong, who had a master’s degree from the state-owned Chinese Academy of Sciences at the time, was one of three representatives who met with Prime Minister Zhu Rongji that morning and explained their requirements.

Zhu reaffirmed his support for their religious freedom and arranged for four officials to meet with them, including his deputy secretary and the state petition director. The three representatives made three major demands: releasing dozens of practitioners from nearby Tianjin, which was beaten and detained two days ago, allowing the publication of a Falun Gong book, and Publicly without fear of restoring an environment in which they can exercise.

Authorities accepted some copies of the main teaching book of practice, Zhuan Falun, and promised to inform the CCP’s top leaders of the situation.

In the evening when the news that Tianjin practitioners were released, the masses gradually dispersed.

“If the’siege’was real, would Zhu Rongji look very calm when it came out?” She argued against the characteristics of the case by state media.

According to another representative, Kong Weijing, tensions increased in the afternoon when the riot police appeared with rifles, but none of the demonstrators were upset.

Zhang stayed until dark and left quietly after most of the petitioners withdrew.

Some insider-informed practitioners later told her that the administration was originally preparing to violence the demonstrators that night. She acknowledged the extraordinary tranquility of the crowd by avoiding the possibility of repeated Tiananmen Square incidents. This is the administration’s bloody repression of student protesters 10 years ago.

“They couldn’t find an excuse for the crackdown,” Zhang said.

Stick to the right thing

Two days after the appeal, official orders were sent to businesses across the country warning the general public what had happened.

It was the first time that Luang Shuan, the director of human resources at a transportation company in Shenzhen, heard about Falun Gong.

A few years ago, Luang, who was still a college student at the time, was shocked to learn how the Chinese administration shot down an unarmed young man at Tiananmen Square. The brutal killing was still fresh in her memory, and she was impressed by the bravery of Falun Gong practitioners.

Like any other political movement, Luang, like everyone else, must submit a written promise to his boss who declares that it is wrong to protest or parade in Beijing away from the case. It didn’t become. “No one will go,” she said.

“If they gave me a bonus, I wouldn’t go. Wouldn’t that put an end to your own career?” She recalled her thoughts at the time.

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Falun Gong practitioner Luang Shuan in New York on April 19, 2021. (Jung Yi Ho / The Epoch Times)

Deciding to find out why people take such risks, she asked a colleague who happened to be a practitioner for a book on Falun Gong. After reading once, she decided to practice.

She described the values ‚Äč‚Äčemphasized in the book as a beam of light into her “confused” life.

“I now know that everything can be evaluated using the criteria of’truth, compassion, and tolerance’,” she said, referring to the core beliefs of practice. “As long as something is right, I will stick to it until the end.”

Retaliation

Despite the reconciliation of officials on April 25, the administration saw the popularity of this practice as a threat and launched a state-wide campaign just three months later with the aim of eradicating it. Since then, millions of practitioners have been detained for their faith. Estimate An unknown number of believers were killed from the Falun Dafa Information Center and using various forms of torture.

After meeting with the Prime Minister during the appeal, the city became the target of a party committee at work and began monitoring his activities. Law enforcement officers did not find any problems, but that night examined files about his past.

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Shi Caidong, a Falun Gong learner in Flushing, New York, April 18, 2021. (Jung Yi Ho / The Epoch Times)

Trade official Zhang paid a considerable amount of money. She has been arrested seven times in seven years and spent 28 months in a labor camp. There, he was beaten, hungry, forcibly fed, and deprived of sleep. The longest stretch was non-stop for 42 days. At the end of the harsh session, her hair was white and her teeth were loose. “The fact that I survived was a mysterious proof of Falun Dafa,” she said.

This was in stark contrast to her pre-persecution life when she held a lucrative government position and had a perfect family with both her daughter and son going to college.

“Many people were able to work for the rest of their lives without getting to where I am,” she said. “At that time, if I had agreed to stop practicing, I wouldn’t have lost anything.”

Luang, who is not yet accustomed to practicing, faced a similarly tough choice. At the age of 34, she lived a white-collar success story and enjoyed a life that many of her ages never dreamed of. She recently moved to a 4,300-square-foot seaside mansion and was ready to enjoy the fruits of her efforts.

She was able to practice secretly in the house without telling anyone. Or she could speak her mind and endanger it all.

Luang chose the latter.

In 2001, the Human Resources Manager went to Tiananmen Square to protest the persecution. That’s exactly what she said two years ago. [her] Bonus for protesting “.

Luang was thrown into various detention centers and endured three months of pain. She slept on a blanket she suspected was never washed because of the strong odor. She wasn’t beaten, but after the shift was over, she worked long hours without rest to make a Christmas light whose fingers couldn’t be straightened.

She managed to come out almost unscathed, but others weren’t so lucky. The detainee told her that another Falun Gong practitioner, a foreign language teacher in the same city as Luang, was madly driven there.

The party also expelled her from her membership and cut off the economic and political privileges associated with her affiliation. Her company organized a “blame meeting” to announce the expulsion. During the meeting, Luang was forced to endure a stream of endless criticism of her beliefs from senior company officials.

Luang Shuan
Luan Shang in his 20s at Jilin University in Changchun, Jilin Province, China. (Provided by Luan Shuang)

Luang maintained a bright smile when her boss announced her decision in front of dozens of colleagues.

“This evil party can’t tolerate the good people. If you don’t expel me, I’ll have to get out of it anyway,” she recalled telling herself at the time. It was.

Luang’s company did not completely dismiss her, but she was assigned the lowest job. She finally submitted her resignation.

No regrets

Looking back on their journey long after resettled in the United States, the followers exuded a calm atmosphere that was inconsistent with their past suffering.

They said they made the right choice.

“When the belief in truth is raised from an emotional level to a rational level, it transcends any suffering,” said Zhang, who left Thailand in 2006.

Zhang Yijie-work
Zhang Yijie (C) was painted with big shaded glasses when he was the secretary of Chen Muhua, who later became Vice Chairman of China. (NTD TV)

Zhang regarded her life as a “legendary” life. “In any trial or situation, I saw them all and experienced them all,” she said.

On April 18, they commemorated a historic demonstration of peaceful resistance, and about 1,000 others in New York for parades and rallies to “say no” to the continued suppression of their faith by the CCP. They said they had gathered with a practitioner.

“If everyone did so at the April 25 appeal, Chinese society would be better,” Luang laughed as he said 20 years ago. “From April 25th … I’ve finally become one of the good people who support justice. That’s what I’ve wanted since I was young.”

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