NEW YORK—New York City hosted a candlelight vigil on April 25 to mark the day 14 years ago when over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners gathered at China’s central government in Zhongnanhai, Beijing.
The historic, peaceful appeal for the freedom to practice meditation and study a teaching based on truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, captured the attention of the world at the time.
Unfortunately, the true reasons for the appeal—the banning of Falun Gong books, media attacks, and harassment of meditators—were twisted by the Chinese communist regime to turn public opinion against the practice and later to “justify” a state-sanctioned persecution of Falun Gong.
Just a few months later, on July 20, 1999, the persecution against Falun Gong began with a roundup and jailing of practitioners across the country. That was just the beginning of a systematic campaign of arbitrary arrest, forced labor, brainwashing, and torture that continues to this day. At least 3,457 practitioners have died in police custody, or from other forms of persecution, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Rong Yi, a Falun Gong practitioner in New York who has been practicing for 16 years, said she organized the New York City rally because “The legal rights for all the Chinese citizens by the Chinese constitution [have been violated].”
Yi says that Falun Gong practitioners have suffered from arbitrary arrest, torture, brainwashing, and murder during the past 14 years of persecution.
“We’d like not only the Chinese Government to stop the persecution, but [we’d also like] to urge the international community to be concerned,” said Yi.