NEW YORK—More than a thousand practioners of Falun Dafa rallied at the United Nations headquarters at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park Wednesday. They celebrated World Falun Dafa Day, appealed to the world to help stop the brutal persecution of Falun Dafa in China, and supported a growing number of Chinese who are quietly withdrawing from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“The darkness and panic of the 15 years of persecution can’t be described by human language,” said Charles Lee, spokesman for the Global Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party, part of a movement known in Chinese as Tuidang.
Tuidang, which refers to quitting the CCP, is a grass-roots movement that has been growing since late 2004. People may use their real names, or an alias, to declare their withdrawal from the CCP, Communist Youth League, or the Communist Young Pioneers. What is key is the person’s heart. Consideration is used to protect individuals’ safety.
Over 165 million people have now quit, according to the New York-based Tuidang Center, which tracks the statements made by Chinese citizens quitting the party.
Many in China who quit said they did so after understanding the party’s crimes throughout history, and they do not want to have blood on their hands. Many Chinese are forced to join the party from a young age, and many join in order to get ahead in life, as membership makes it easier to get promoted in China.
The two-hour rally took place after a diverse and colorful parade celebrating the 22nd anniversary of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline originating in China teaching truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. This year also marks the 15th year the practice has been banned and brutally persecuted in China by the CCP, which has led to at least three thousand confirmed deaths—although the actual number could be much higher, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
“I want to appeal to all the organizations of the world, including the United Nations behind me, to stop the crimes of the CCP,” said Zhang Peng, who was imprisoned for 11 years for practicing Falun Dafa.
Many Chinese people who learned the truth about the CCP quit on site at the rally. They had seen and joined the Tuidang section of the parade, and expressed their wish that Falun Dafa could be practiced freely.
“The practitioners are passionate and kind,” said 28-year-old Mr. Huang, who withdrew from the CCP at the rally. “It’s different from the information we had in China. I think Falun Gong is good; I think truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance is good. I want more people to know about this.”
Many New Yorkers who passed by stopped to listen to the rally and learn more about the persecution.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people expressing their appeals so peacefully and organized,” said Susan Cergol, who works across the street from the United Nations and watched the rally from her office.