PHILADELPHIA—The idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might create a chain of events in the atmosphere that ultimately sets off a tornado in Texas is called "The Butterfly Effect." Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. Was a recent meeting in Philadelphia that butterfly?
Gary Wood, a 20-year-old arts major at Camden County College, and his friend Raf Andino, 31, a civil servant in Philadelphia, were glad that they became part of events that may ultimately bring a change of climate in Beijing.
On the afternoon of July 25, when the two men were hanging out in the center of the city, they happened to see dozens of Chinese people holding a public rally at 10th and Arch Street in Philadelphia China Town.
Men, women, seniors and children, stood holding banners and posters saying in Chinese and English "Quit CCP" (CCP stands for Chinese Communist Party), "China is not the CCP," "CCP Doesn't Represent China," "Celebrate 58 million withdrawals from the CCP," "God Bless China—God Condemns the CCP" and "Spread the Nine Commentaries."
Finding the scene curious, Wood and Andino stopped and listened to what these people had to say through a loud speaker.
Dr. Jing Fang, 43, a Chinese American and psychiatrist in Philadelphia hosted of the event. She said, "Today we came here to celebrate another milestone in Chinese history—in July, the birth month of CCP, nearly 58 million Chinese people have publicly abandoned the Party as we speak. China and Chinese people have suffered enough from communism. It is time to stand up and say no to the Party."
Dr. Fang reviewed a history of violence and killing. Since the CCP came into power in 1949, between 65 and 80 million Chinese people have been killed or died unnatural deaths at the hands of the CCP.
The figures read out by Dr. Fang were found appalling and shocked Wood and Andino.
1950-1952: 2.4–5 million were killed in the Land Reform, Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries Campaign
1959-1961: 30–40 million died from CCP’s Great Leap Forward Movement
1966-1976: 7–8 million killed or driven to suicide during the Great Cultural Revolution
1989: Tiananmen Massacre: thousands in the student-led pro-democracy movement were killed.
1999-2009: Persecution of Falun Gong: more than 3,000 deaths have been verified by international human rights groups. The actual number may be much higher and difficult to verify due to CCP's secretive inner working and information blockage. Three million have been imprisoned.
"I was shocked to hear this. You don't get to see or hear this kind of story in the news, TV, newspaper, radio," Wood said.
"You hear people talking about China all the time—business, trade, currency, Olympics, but very few put China in the right context. It is still under communism," said Andino.
The friends decided to stay and join the event after they heard a personal account from a young couple who recently escaped from China.
Jason Wang, 36, was a university lecturer in China. He held a poster saying "I have been arrested six times and tortured for practicing Falun Gong".
Wang said he began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. "After practicing Falun Gong, I quit smoking and drinking. My chronic stomach disease got healed. My quick temper disappeared. I become a healthier, happier and more compassionate and tolerant person." Wang said he was jailed and tortured because he didn’t want to give up practicing Falun Gong.
Touched by Wang's story, Andino took Wang's poster and began rallying support for the "Quit CCP movement" on Wang’s behalf. "I want to support them. It is a good cause. They are good people."
Wood held a poster from Wang's wife, Tina. The poster reads "Please help my mother, who has been arrested for practicing Falun Gong."
Her mother is still in a Chinese labor camp. "My mother is a kind and unselfish person. She quietly donated money (set aside from her limited pension) to a local orphanage to help poverty-stricken kids to go to school."
Tina said Falun Gong changed her mother, a once pessimistic person who had lost hope in life due to poor health, tragic personal life. "Falun Gong gave my mother the hope and renewed strength to live and become a good person. CCP forced her to give up practicing Falun Gong. She refused. CCP sent her to jail."
"Hearing the plight of Tina’s mother, I feel communism is not a remote and distant evil. I want to join the fight with those brave Chinese who have stood up against CCP. I join them because I didn't see many westerners in the rally – I want to put myself there to show this is not a Chinese event, but an event for everybody, regardless of your nationality or race. Communism shouldn’t be allowed in this world," said Wood. He talked to people passing by and collected many signatures to support the Global Quit CCP Campaign.
Similar events are being held in many cities around the world according to Dr. Fang.
"Public events and forums like today’s rally in Philadelphia are part of the Global Quitting CCP Campaign, the most peaceful, yet powerful way to end communism in China. History has shown the power of conscience and discipline of non-violence in the example of Velvet Revolution, a gentle and peaceful revolution that dissolved communism in Czechoslovakia" said Dr. Fang.
“We are glad to see more people like Gary and Raf coming to support this cause in the city of Brotherly Love.”