Falun Gong Practitioners Commemorate April 25 Around the World (Photos)
Falun Gong Practitioners Commemorate April 25 Around the World (Photos)
Falun Gong practitioners gather in New York on April 25 for a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate. The day, 14 years ago, marks an historic, peaceful appeal in China that was later used as justification to launch a state-sanctioned persecution against the meditation practice of Falun Gong. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners gather in New York on April 25 for a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate. The day, 14 years ago, marks an historic, peaceful appeal in China that was later used as justification to launch a state-sanctioned persecution against the meditation practice of Falun Gong. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner lights candles in New York on April 25 for a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate. The day, 14 years ago, marks an historic, peaceful appeal in China that was later used as justification to launch a state-sanctioned persecution against the meditation practice of Falun Gong. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner lights candles in New York on April 25 for a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate. The day, 14 years ago, marks an historic, peaceful appeal in China that was later used as justification to launch a state-sanctioned persecution against the meditation practice of Falun Gong. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners stand opposite the PRC Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 25, 2013. The practitioners are holding floral-wreathed photos of individuals who lost their lives as a result of the Chinese regime's persecution of Falun Gong. (Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners stand opposite the PRC Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 25, 2013. The practitioners are holding floral-wreathed photos of individuals who lost their lives as a result of the Chinese regime's persecution of Falun Gong. (Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on April 25, 2013, to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Falun Gong appeal in Beijing on that same day in 1999. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on April 25, 2013, to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Falun Gong appeal in Beijing on that same day in 1999. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners demonstrate the first exercise during a rally to commemorate “April 25” in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. More than 10,000 practitioners gathered in central Beijing on April 25, 1999, to protest the discrimination of their practice in the largest demonstration since the Tiananmen Square protests. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners demonstrate the first exercise during a rally to commemorate “April 25” in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. More than 10,000 practitioners gathered in central Beijing on April 25, 1999, to protest the discrimination of their practice in the largest demonstration since the Tiananmen Square protests. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners during a rally to commemorate ‘April 25’ in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners during a rally to commemorate ‘April 25’ in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners during a rally to commemorate ‘April 25’ in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners during a rally to commemorate ‘April 25’ in San Francisco’s Chinatown on April 21, 2013. (Alex Ma/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold a candle light vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. on April 24, 2013. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold a candle light vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. on April 24, 2013. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner meditates during a candle light vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., on April 24, 2013. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner meditates during a candle light vigil outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., on April 24, 2013. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

In front of the PRC Consulate on April 25, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden two young men stop to hear about what happened to Chinese Falun Gong practitioners on April 25, 1999. Meanwhile, Falun Gong practitioners are seen practicing one of the discipline’s exercises. (B. Plogander/The Epoch Times)

In front of the PRC Consulate on April 25, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden two young men stop to hear about what happened to Chinese Falun Gong practitioners on April 25, 1999. Meanwhile, Falun Gong practitioners are seen practicing one of the discipline’s exercises. (B. Plogander/The Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner meditates, on April 25, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, outside the PRC Consulate. He came there to commemorate the events of April 25, 1999, when 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners protested in Beijing. (B. Plogander/Epoch Times)

A Falun Gong practitioner meditates, on April 25, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden, outside the PRC Consulate. He came there to commemorate the events of April 25, 1999, when 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners protested in Beijing. (B. Plogander/Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold a candlelight vigil opposite the PRC Consulate in Chicago to commemorate the April 25, 1999 appeal of practitioners in Beijing, China. (Courtesy Minghui.org)

Falun Gong practitioners hold a candlelight vigil opposite the PRC Consulate in Chicago to commemorate the April 25, 1999 appeal of practitioners in Beijing, China. (Courtesy Minghui.org)

Individuals line up to sign a petition opposing the persecution of Falun Gong, in Milan on April 25, 2013. (The Epoch Times)

Individuals line up to sign a petition opposing the persecution of Falun Gong, in Milan on April 25, 2013. (The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners protest on the Jannowitz-Bridge outside the People’s Republic of China Embassy on April 25 in Berlin, Germany, as they do every day for about two hours each day. (Franz Broeker/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners protest on the Jannowitz-Bridge outside the People’s Republic of China Embassy on April 25 in Berlin, Germany, as they do every day for about two hours each day. (Franz Broeker/The Epoch Times)

On April 25, 1999, ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners from across mainland China made their way to Zhongnanhai, the base and living quarters of the Communist Party leadership in Beijing, to make an appeal.

Although the Chinese regime had a policy of not commenting on or interfering with qigong, a type of slow-motion form of exercise that gained immense popularity in the early 1990s, local officials in the city of Tianjin in east China had beaten and arrested about forty practitioners of Falun Gong, a type of qigong, on April 23. A couple of days earlier, a magazine from a Tianjin college ran an article that criticized Falun Gong.

The ten thousand petitioners were thus hoping that central authorities would release the detained practitioners, and make a guarantee that Falun Gong would not be harassed in the future.

Former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji eventually spoke with practitioner representatives and promised to release the Tianjin practitioners. Zhu also said that the Party didn’t oppose Falun Gong. The petitioners then quietly made their way home, picking up litter and cigarette butts dropped by the policemen on their way.

To Falun Gong practitioners, the issue was largely over when they left—given the assurances made by the country’s premier—and they went about their daily exercises in parks and schools. But Party boss Jiang Zemin, however, declared the peaceful protest in Beijing an example of Falun Gong “laying siege to Zhongnanhai,” and launched a campaign to “defeat Falun Gong” three months later.

Jiang declared “no measure is too excessive” in the persecution, according to contemporaneous accounts of his orders, relayed through the security apparatus. He also set up the 610 Office, an extralegal body whose sole mandate was to persecute Falun Gong, and officials seeking rapid promotion had a new political campaign to engage in.

Over 3,000 practitioners are documented to have been persecuted to death, and hundreds of thousands more languish in prisons and labor camps across China at any given time, according to Minghui, the official website of Falun Gong. Independent researchers have compiled extensive evidence that Chinese hospitals, including military hospitals, systematically harvest the organs of Falun Gong practitioners for transplantation. Tens of thousands of practitioners are estimated to have lost their lives in China’s profitable organ trade, though exact numbers are difficult to obtain given the restrictions on information in China.

Each year on April 25, practitioners of Falun Gong around the world gather together to remember the peaceful demonstration of 1999 and to honor those who have been killed during the persecution.

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