Normally, practitioners of the Chinese meditation discipline known as Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong) hold a parade on or around July 20, the anniversary of the day in 1999 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to violently persecute Falun Dafa.
The persecution has continued for the past 21 years, and so have practitioners’ efforts to raise awareness of it.
This year, because of the pandemic, they raised awareness by gathering in smaller groups in their local areas.
Over a span of three days, practitioners in San Leandro, San Jose, and San Francisco set up information tables at their local parks and did the five exercises of Falun Dafa together. The exercises involve gentle movements and meditation.
“All of these people are kindhearted because of the principles [of Falun Dafa]—truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. And yet they are so brutally persecuted, and we want to bring this up to everybody’s attention,” Samuel Zhang, a systems engineer, told The Epoch Times.
He has been practicing Falun Dafa since 1999, and he feels that it has benefited his mind and body.
Vijay Kumar, an app developer at Clara Analytics, Inc., started practicing it a few months ago. He recently learned about the significance of July 20.
He felt that his interest in other types of movement and exercise come and go. “But if you really learn about Falun Dafa and if you do the exercises—do it for one week, and I don’t think you’ll go back, ” Kumar said.
He also learned about the CCP’s crimes against practitioners. In China, the CCP has persecuted practitioners by subjecting them to harassment, imprisonment, torture, and even death.
“Someone told me about [the persecution]. I looked into it and then saw how kind of gross it was. Until then, I don’t know if it’s just me, out of my ignorance, but I never really heard about it,” Kumar said.
With signs on top of their cars, Falun Dafa practitioners created a car parade from Townsend Park to 99 Ranch Market in San Jose, California. They visited Costco, H Mart, Ocean Supermarket, Safeway, Marina Grocery, and Lion Supermarket on the way.
Practitioners both old and young came out to join the activities. “I think it’s important because it’s a way to remember the people who were persecuted for something that they believed in,” 16-year-old Kaitlyn Li told The Epoch Times.
Daren Chou, a student at San Jose State University, told The Epoch Times he’s been attending the July 20 anniversary events for 17 consecutive years.
He has been to events in Portsmouth Square in San Francisco, and he asked, “Why is the Chinese Communist Party doing this to good people?”
Chou visited China once when he was younger, but he has not gone back since.
“I do hope, one day when the persecution ends, that I’m able to go back—visit my relatives in a more different kind of environment,” he said.
The practitioners said they hope to expose the CCP’s lies. Ever since the persecution began, the CCP has been spreading propaganda against Falun Dafa in an attempt to garner support for the persecution.
For instance, multiple investigations, including those by Washington Post reporter Phillip Pan, have found the CCP staged an incident at Tiananmen Square in which several people set themselves on fire. It claimed that those people were Falun Dafa practitioners.
The CCP used the incident in China and abroad to negatively portray Falun Dafa. Those who spoke up about it were allegedly silenced.
“That’s what’s happening in China. People [are] scared to say the truth,” said Zhang.
He recalled the CCP’s attempts to silence doctors and other people who tried to warn others about the CCP virus (commonly known as the novel coronavirus) early on.
“That’s why COVID-19 [went] spreading to the world,” he said.
“We came out here today to tell everyone the truth about Falun Gong. It teaches people how to be sincere and compassionate, living according to truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance to be a good person,” Huimei from the East Bay said.
“Do you think a society without truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance is normal?” Zhang said.