SYDNEY, Australia—Falun Gong practitioners got in early on May 7 to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the practice’s introduction to the public, one-week before World Falun Dafa Day on May 13, 2016.
The events included exercises and meditation in Sydney’s Hyde Park in the morning, followed by an impressive parade from Town Hall to Belmore Park in the afternoon. More than 500 Falun Gong practitioners and supporters participated in the parade. Bystanders experienced the beauty of the practice and were reminded that it continues to be persecuted by the Chinese regime in China after 17-years.
Craig Kelly, Member of the Australian House of Representatives and Liberal Federal Member for Hughes in South-West Sydney, attended the events where he spoke in support of the Falun Gong community.
“The principles of Falun Dafa: Compassion, forbearance, tolerance — these are values that all of us should celebrate. All of us are better as humans if we follow those values,” said Mr. Kelly.
Among the various eye-catching sections of the procession, including the Falun Dafa Celestial Marching Band, the lion dancers, Falun Dafa exercise demonstrations and the waist drummers, were banners and signs that highlighted current human rights violations that Falun Gong practitioners face in China, in the 17-year ongoing persecution, including that of forced organ harvesting.
Local city councillor for Parramatta, James Shaw, participated in the parade holding a banner to raise awareness about forced live organ harvesting in China.
“I support everyone’s rights to be free of persecution,” he said on the day.
“Falun Dafa is highly visible in the Parramatta community. You are liked and respected throughout the community. My hope is that the Chinese government and all nations throughout the world will afford you the dignity and respect that you deserve into the future,” Mr Shaw wrote in a message of support ahead of the celebrations.
Misaki Ohashi, a university student from Macquarie University, attended the parade to find out more about Falun Gong practitioners’ efforts to end the persecution.
“I am from Japan. I was very shocked to find that tortures and executions are still happening in countries very close to Japan,” Ohashi said.
“I see Falun Dafa events about once a month in Sydney. When I got my assignment, which is about social campaigns, I thought ‘this is perfect for my assignment, I’m interested in this and this is something I want to change as well’,” she added.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa is a spiritual practice that involves meditation exercises and living according to truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Gong is now practised in more than 100 countries around the world.
“After practising Falun Dafa, I learnt that true freedom comes from within ourselves and it comes from giving up all sorts of notions and attachments,” said 25-year-old retail manager Amy Duncan, a parade participant who has been practising Falun Dafa for the past 6 years.
“The first time I did the Falun Dafa exercises, I felt a warm energy flood through my whole body and I felt true contentment. The world was bright and full of wonder,” she added.
With reporting by Rona Rui, Nina Yan