WASHINGTON—The melodic voice of Sara Effner drifted on the cool breeze in front of the World War II Memorial, Washington D.C. on Friday evening July 13. Effner is a practitioner of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. She and other performing artists sang to remember fellow Falun Gong practitioners who have been killed in China for their beliefs.
Falun Dafa involves living according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and practicing five gentle, meditative exercises. Because of its popularity, and because of fear that its teachings were competing with communist ideology, the then-head of the CCP Jiang Zemin launched a campaign on July 20, 1999, to eliminate the spiritual practice.
The performances at the World War II Memorial occurred one week before the 13th anniversary of the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong.
Along two of the walkways that lead to the memorial fountain was an exhibition of photographs that chronicle the history of Falun Dafa, including its popularity inside China and how the practice has spread widely around the world.
Amongst the exhibits was a photograph of a candlelight vigil on July 20, 2004, in front of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial in Taipei, Taiwan.
There was also a photograph of the teacher of Falun Dafa, Mr. Li Hongzhi, lecturing in Guangzhou, China, in 1993. This was the second of 54 lecture series on Falun Gong Mr. Li would give throughout China, with the last lecture series coming in 1995.
“I have a few friends that were persecuted in China,” said Hsinling Hsieh, Associate Professor of Economics at Northern Michigan University. Ms. Hsieh, a practitioner of Falun Dafa for fourteen years, travels to Washington D.C. every year for the events commemorating July 20.
Illuminated streams of water from the WWII Memorial fountain were the source of gentle splashing sounds that mixed with the soft hum of crickets to create a backdrop for the performers.
Ms. Courtney Dowe performed her song “Tuidang,” calling for the end of the Chinese Communist Party.
Twelve year old Borong Tsai performed a song on the guzheng, also called the zither, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument.
Canadian musician, Drew Parker, performed his song “Mother China” which received honorable mention in the Billboard World Song Writing contest.
“We perform here in front of the WWII memorial, a place that symbolizes the end of tyranny,” said Jamil Lawrence, a local hip-hop artist, who also practices Falun Gong. He performed his original song “Unshakable Faith.”
Sinnikka Suontakanon traveled from Finland for the events with her friend Tuula and seven other Falun Gong practitioners. They were among the many that had come from as far as Australia, Asia, Europe, and Russia to attend the week long rallies, parades, and vigils commemorating July 20.
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