The International Book Expo is one of the most important cultural events in Argentina. Sponsored by the Argentina Cultural Foundation, President's Cultural Department, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education and Buenos Aires related governmental institutions, the 31st International Book Expo opened to public at the largest exhibition site in the capital from April 21 to May 9. The Ministers of Education and Culture as well as mayors of various cities, parliament representatives and ambassadors of other countries attended the opening and closing ceremonies. The President of Argentina also came to the expo.
More than 1.2 million people visited the expo, which featured 340 booths including worldwide publishers, bookstores, cultural groups, and religious groups. Falun Dafa also had a booth which attracted many people.
The Falun Dafa booth had a name tag which read, "Falun Dafa" in both Chinese and Spanish. Practitioners displayed the 2004 Spanish version of Zhuan Falun [the main text of Falun Dafa] and 2005 Spanish version of China Falun Gong [A book suitable for beginners]as well as Zhuan Falun and China Falun Gong in other languages. 5000 copies of Zhuan Falun were printed last year, which were soon sold out and the publisher then printed more. Argentina also provided Spanish Zhuan Falun to other Spanish speaking countries such as Spain, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Although practitioners never ran any advertisements, Zhuan Falun is becoming one of the top sellers in Argentina.
The booth was decorated with a 2 meter long and 1.5 meter wide "Lun Yu (the preface of Zhuan Falun). Furthermore, practitioners also displayed photos about Falun Dafa's worldwide spread as well as the ongoing brutal persecution in China. In the middle of the booth, practitioners displayed a huge colourful Falun which could be seen from afar. They also prepared informational materials to explain the origin of the symbol. In the afternoons, schoolteachers brought their students to the expo; group after group, students came to read the posters and take notes. They told practitioners that their teachers requested them to write reports on how the Chinese authorities violate human rights. After learning the truth, some students commented: "In China, the Communist Party tortures people and is very vicious. The Party has even killed many innocent people!"
Since the Expo opened its door for the first time in 1975, it has become one of the largest book expos in South America and even the whole world. It is also a precious opportunity for different countries to promote their own culture. This year, 40 countries delegated their embassies to showcase their culture and present seminars. All the large countries never miss this opportunity. Though China had been a participant of this event for many years, the Chinese embassy didn't attend this expo for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Chinese embassy requested the Argentina Ministry of Education to bar practitioners from the expo after they heard Falun Gong was a participant. The Ministry replied that the expo was a community cultural event and the government could not do anything to influence it. The embassy then pressured the expo organisers; however, their interference ended up in vain. Therefore, the embassy shockingly backed out from the expo and cancelled a scheduled seminar on China. On the other hand, practitioners held three seminars in which they clarified the truth of the persecution in great detail.
This year, there were more people who came to buy books and ask for information about Falun Gong. The people all condemned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after they learned the truth about the persecution. Some said: "This (CCP) is not China, China is a country with a great culture. Chinese people now fear their government and dare not to speak out. However, the party can't last long." Many people told practitioners: "You have done a good job, the persecution is very evil and you have to expose it. They (CCP) are trying get support from other countries and therefore fear people knowing the truth!"
People commented that the CCP is also very lawless, as it even dispatched people to steal practitioners' banners and attack practitioners during Chinese President Hu's state visit to Argentina last year. Some also mentioned that Mao Zedong's theories had influenced people in South America, as some countries now have armed guerrilla groups disturbing social security. Some also asked practitioners where the Chinese embassy's booth was so they could find it. Practitioners told them that the embassy backed out of the expo last year as they failed to bully practitioners. The response was: "They fear Falun Gong and the truth. So many countries and media are trying to flatter the CCP, while only you guys dare to confront it and expose its true face."
This year, practitioners' participation was welcomed again by the public, and Falun Dafa is becoming one of the most notable features of the expo.
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