Falun Dafa, a traditional Chinese discipline of meditation and self-improvement, was first taught in public in China in 1992. Each year, tens of millions of Falun Dafa practitioners around the world celebrate World Falun Dafa Day on May 13, the anniversary of Falun Dafa’s introduction to the public and the birthday of its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi.
This year’s celebration in San Francisco included a parade and rally. Before the parade, practitioners gathered in front of the San Francisco City Hall to do the Falun Dafa exercises to peaceful music.
After taking a group photo and wishing Mr. Li a happy birthday, the parade set off at noon. The participants included a marching band, a float decorated with lotus flowers, and marchers carrying colorful signs and banners in English and Chinese to inform passersby about Falun Dafa.
The parade wound its way through downtown San Francisco and ended in Chinatown, where the practitioners held an outdoor rally with speeches and performances of traditional music and dance.
In addition to celebrating the beauty of Falun Dafa, the parade and rally had another purpose: to inform the audience that Falun Dafa is persecuted in its homeland.
After Falun Dafa was taught to the public in China, it spread quickly through word of mouth. Many Chinese were attracted to its principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, as well as its physical and mental health benefits. By 1999, an estimated 70 to 100 million people were practicing it in China.
However, then-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin felt that the enormous popularity of the practice was a threat to his power. On July 20, 1999, he launched a massive campaign of deceitful propaganda, harassment, imprisonment, and violence against Falun Dafa practitioners throughout the country.
At this year’s parade and rally, some passersby were shocked to learn that the CCP kills practitioners of Falun Dafa by harvesting their organs for profit.
One passerby was Isaka Yoda, who had heard rumors of organ harvesting before and felt that it was sad and inhuman. He admired Falun Dafa practitioners’ positive actions for change.
“It’s good to open to the world, to let the world know they need help,” he said. “Of course it’s a scary situation, but this courage [is] going to help the next generation for sure.”
“It should be stopped immediately,” said Abirami, another spectator. “Human rights, human organs are precious. We should save people.”
San Francisco resident Joyce Yutan thinks people should be proactively educated about what’s going on. She feels that the Falun Dafa event was unlike the many protests and boycotts she has seen in San Francisco.
“Definitely this is very different,” Yutan said. “It’s not violent. So it’s refreshing to see.”