UK: Experiences from Peacefully Protesting Outside the CCP Embassy in London for 20 Years

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The 5th of June this year, marks the passing of 20 springs, summers, autumns and winters since UK Dafa disciples have held 24 hour peaceful protests in front of the CCP embassy.

It is Master's mercy and support and fellow practitioners' selfless cooperation, which has enabled us to get to this day. Included among those who have participated are 80 and 90 year old disciples, and also little disciples who have come along with their parents. There are those who are based in London. There are also practitioners who have come from other parts of the world such as New Zealand and Australia.

As for everyday people’s support for us, there has been feedback from them. One person in the past said that the Queen should give medals to these Falun Gong practitioners who have been quietly sitting in front of the CCP embassy, because their peacefulness and tenaciousness has established an example for the people of the UK. There have also been people who have asked, “at night those who work at the CCP embassy have all gone off work, and there are not many people in the streets, so is there still any reason for you being here so late?”. I have also often asked myself, why do we have to persist with it?
Whilst writing down this sharing, I looked back at the cultivation process of the last 20 years.

Original wish
I obtained the Fa in Beijing in 1997, and came to the UK in 1999. On the 1st of October 2000, a western practitioner Robert started a protest that lasted for 3 days in front of the London CCP embassy. When he came to know that practitioners in mainland China had lost their freedom of belief and the right to practise cultivation, and moreover that some had been persecuted to death, he wanted to act on this and oppose the CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong. After becoming aware of this I was deeply moved, so I took part in the 3-day protest with him and a few other fellow practitioners.

I thought that I couldn’t go back to Tiananmen square in China, however I could do whatever I could to peacefully protest in front of the CCP embassy.

After the event concluded, Robert also suggested whether we could peacefully protest and practice the exercises of Falun Gong every morning in front of the CCP embassy? At that time I was a graduate student, and the university was not far from the embassy, and there was time for it, so I took part. At that time, there were 3 to 4 disciples, and at 7 till 9 am each morning of each working day, we practiced the exercises in front of the embassy, and by the side we set up an A2 sized placard.

Starting the 24-hour protest
In May of 2002 the demon Jiang visited Europe. Wherever he went, there were Dafa disciples taking part in close-range sending righteous thoughts for 24 hours. In the UK, those practitioners who had the circumstances went abroad to take part in close range sending righteous thoughts, and those who didn’t go on such a journey assembled in front of the CCP embassy in London to send righteous thoughts for 24 hours. After the activity concluded, another practitioner suggested that we should persist in sending righteous thoughts in front of the CCP embassy for 24 hours. At that time there were already fellow practitioners doing so like this in other countries.

On the 5th of June 2002, we started peacefully protesting for 24 hours a day in front of the CCP embassy in London.

At that time, I had already completed my studies, and my child was on summer vacation, and for the entire summer I stayed in front of the embassy with my child. After the summer vacation passed, there were fewer fellow practitioners taking part, and there was a need to guarantee that there were people available to take turns during the 24 hours. So, I started to coordinate with other practitioners, and arranged a duty list. At that time there weren’t as many Dafa projects as there are these days, and arranging turns was not so difficult, and the main challenge was dealing with the complaints from the surrounding residents.

Where the diplomatic quarters of the CCP embassy in London are located, apart from the official business building, there were also some upmarket residential buildings. At the beginning some residents wrote complaints stating that the volume of the exercise music was too loud; also, that our exhibited placards and banners were not neat or in good order and that it wrecked the graceful environment here; because we were here, the CCP embassy applied for the protection of police officers for diplomacy. This spending was paid for by British people’s taxes, and British people shouldn’t be paying for a persecution that’s happening in China.

After everybody shared experiences and looked inwards, we improved on the areas where we had not done well. The exercise music was not to be so loud, and practitioners with special skills designed and made an exhibition rack and boards, and after making improvements several times, they became what we have today, and when we were to have large events, we would send out letters to the surrounding residents in advance, explaining why we were organising this event, and expressed our apologies for causing inconvenience. Before Christmas, we posted a thankyou letter to the surrounding residents for their understanding and support.

After several years, the environment changed and became much better. Often residents from the vicinity would give us a warm coffee in the early morning winter, or give us a box dinner in the evenings.

The tests we were faced with
In the second half of the year 2007, Shen Yun began performing in the UK. At that time everybody was trying to find out how to promote it and advertise it. More or less all the practitioners took part, however it seemed there were never enough people. At that time some practitioners asked me, could we possibly change the 24-hour protest into just protesting during the day, because the manpower needed for arranging turns to sit during the whole 24 hours was too much, and impacted promotion of Shen Yun. It was also said: Wasn't I being too selfish that I still persisted in holding the 24-hour protest?

After the attending practitioners shared experiences, everybody agreed that they would like the 24-hour protest to continue, and at the same time complete the activities of promoting Shen Yun. I was also rethinking: Was I too selfish in persisting with this project? Had I not made Shen Yun my first priority? What was Master’s wish? I thought that it must be that Master would want us to complete our tasks with Shen Yun, and at the same time not to suspend the other projects that need long term support. If we were not intimidated by the surface difficulties, we would certainly come to see Master’s arrangements.

There were several occasions when we all felt we could not continue, and really there were not enough people taking turns to sit in front of the embassy, but it was always the case that as Master said in Lecture Nine of Zhuan Falun: “After passing the shady willow trees, there will be bright flowers and another village ahead!"

In 2010 Shen Yun was held in a city outside London in the UK. Every weekend I had to go outside London to take part in Shen Yun promotion activities, and I couldn’t go on duty protesting in front of the CCP embassy. At this time a practitioner who had just come from mainland China filled in my place for all the empty slots of the duty.

In another year, a practitioner from Hong Kong came to England to accompany her child’s studies. She was living in a place not far from the embassy, and she was not familiar with getting anywhere else, but just knew how to get to the embassy. In this way she filled up all the empty slots in the duty list.

After I calmed my mind and examined my own thoughts and actions: Did taking part in promoting Shen Yun and also persisting with this project at the same time here cause a clash? I can affirm: no it didn’t. Actually it was arranged well, and they spurred each other on mutually.

I remember once I came to the outskirts of London to sell tickets in a shopping centre, and after finishing at 10pm, I took a bus to return to the city centre to take on the night shift at the embassy. At the shopping centre I had been presenting and introducing people to Shen Yun without stopping for the entire day, and upon sitting in the bus I started feeling tired. After taking on the shift, I immediately sat down to meditate, and at once I felt that energy penetrated throughout my whole body, and that the fatigue of the body was washed away in a twinkling, like having a shower, and in my heart and mind I was permeated with gratitude.

When I further went to find out about other practitioners’ situations, everybody also didn’t feel that because of this it had affected their taking part in the promotion of Shen Yun. If any practitioners handed out Shen Yun leaflets outside a theatre close to the embassy, in most cases when handing them out, the time for the performance to conclude would not take long. When the time was up, upon finishing handing out flyers they would come back and continue to practise the exercises and send forth righteous thoughts in front of the CCP embassy, although there was a slight gap in time between them, however, they dealt with the two projects. There were also some practitioners who took on the morning shift, and after practising the five exercises, they went to do door to door leafletting, enabling them to “charge their batteries well” before setting off.

After carefully sorting things out, we could see more clearly what to do. As long as we, as one body, put more effort into communication and coordination, and got rid of more attachments to comfort, we could indeed continue on.

A symbol of Falun Gong practitioners opposing the persecution
In order to oppose the persecution, we had started to peacefully protest in front of the CCP embassy, and more so because of the escalation of the persecution, it changed into a 24-hour protest.

As long as the CCPs persecution of Falun Gong had not stopped, then our peaceful protest had to continue. This was also the unanimous first thought of all the practitioners who were participating at the time.

At nightfall a few years ago, we were changing the poster that was on the exhibition board. A car passed by, and the person in the car wound down his window and asked: “Are you guys leaving? Has the persecution ended? You should keep persisting!”

One night more than 10 years ago, I was speaking with a poet who had just finished a program with the BBC. We had quite a deep chat, and I left the meditation spot, and stood with him behind the poster board. A little while later, a young cyclist stopped in front of us. I asked him if he would like to sign his name on the petition, and he replied: I have already signed, and I stopped to see why no one was sitting here today? Had the persecution ended? If so, he wanted to tell this good news to the people he knew. If the persecution had not ended, he wanted to sit here and support the sit-in here for a while, until someone else arrived and he would leave.

In the hearts and minds of English people, this spot has become the symbol of Falun Gong practitioners opposing the persecution.

A window for spreading the truth
In front of our poster boards, there is a busy road, and the cars pass by without pause. There are also some tour buses that pass through here. I would often hear the whistling sound of people in vehicles passing, or people winding their windows down to show their thumbs up. We also would often hear the tour guide in the tour bus explaining to the tourists: this is the Falun Gong protest.

The large building behind us is the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and they often hold academic meetings, exhibitions and all sorts of evening parties. Those entering and leaving pass by in an endless stream.

When it’s our shift, practitioners are usually practising the exercises, sending forth righteous thoughts, collecting signatures, or handing out leaflets to those passing by. Also, many pedestrians take the initiative to stop and have a look at the display boards, and sign their names in the petition, or converse with practitioners to come to a further understanding of the true situation. As a long period of time has passed, many British citizens, passing by here, have come to understand the truth about Falun Gong.

Those who come to know of the true situation will tell others about it. I would often hear pedestrians explain to their companions: this is Falun Gong, and opposite in front of them is the CCP embassy, and they are here peacefully protesting.

One weekend 3 years ago, I was on duty during the day, I saw that a western man had come directly in front of our display boards, encircled it once, and then took a look seriously at the display boards. After I had finished practising the exercises, he asked me: Have you been here for over ten years? I asked him, how did you know? He said it was because it was written in this book. After which he showed me the book he had in his hand, which was a book showing sightseeing places to visit on foot in London. In it, it mentioned our 24 hour peaceful protest.

At nightfall several weeks ago, I was sitting in meditation, whilst in the building behind me there was an event going on. I heard a young man speaking on his phone. In his conversation it seemed he was giving instructions to the person on the phone on how to get here: You should get out of the car in front of the Falun Gong display board, Falun Gong has been here for 18 years already. After hearing that I thought, he most certainly said 18 years, it must be that he had gained some understanding of us already and had only miscounted by two years. After a while, I once again heard him say to his daughter: This lady is a Falun Gong practitioner, she is sitting in meditation here in opposition to the persecution. The young girl said “just sitting here meditating, how boring!”. I was eager to hear how her father would respond. But the father didn’t say anything. The young girl stopped in front of the display board and started to read it, and after a while she said to her father: Look here, such a beautiful woman was electrocuted like that, and in the end she was persecuted to death, that’s so cruel!”

At that time I realised that it most certainly was the energy field here, which disintegrated the matter that was obstructing sentient beings from understanding the true situation, giving lives an opportunity to understand the truth.

My personal understanding is that with all the Dafa disciples around the world doing things to oppose the persecution, with every project, and each portion of effort, although perhaps we cannot see an obvious result, however all are transforming people’s hearts and minds, and it’s accumulating righteous energy in this trial of strength between the righteous and the evil.

A good environment for improving personal cultivation
I can’t remember how many times, upon passing Xinxing trials, it has always been that I have come to enlighten to Fa principles or to undo the knots in my heart when I was on my shift duty.

Once a western practitioner who often took part, gave me a suggestion: The embassy protest project helps with the cultivation of all those who participate, so you should get all the coordinators to line up, and allow them to participate, and in this way it will have a good effect on the improvement of the one body of UK practitioners. I thought: OK, this suggestion is not bad. That week there happened to be a night shift that was empty, consequently I gave him a phone call, and asked him whether he could come and help out. He said that he couldn’t. In my mind I started to complain: everyone was just saying with their mouths that this project is important, but I wasn’t seeing them act on it. As a result, I took the night shift myself. Whilst carrying all these emotions, after a little while I felt very tired. So, I opened the tent up and thought of lying down for a little while. Just as I lay down, I felt that someone was pulling and trying to drag the tent, and this was something that had never happened before. After I got out to see what had happened, as soon as I got out of the tent, an egg hit my head. At the time I felt very disheartened in my heart. Why were things going so un-smoothly today? After thinking about it again, I thought that it must have been my fault, otherwise I wouldn’t have met with this matter. It was because I myself had complaints about other practitioners and coordinators, which led to all of this happening. So, I sat down and sent righteous thoughts, and my mood calmed down very quickly.

In the early morning upon returning home, I told this to my husband. Originally, I thought that he would comfort and console me, but unexpectedly he said: You have to look within to find the problem within yourself. When I heard this, I felt so wronged that I wanted to cry. After calming down, I once again thought about the questions that I had been thinking about all along that night: Originally why did I take part in this project? Why did I want to persist with it? As for those practitioners who could take part I should treasure their efforts, and as for those who couldn’t take part, I shouldn’t have any thoughts of complaint. I should put effort into achieving this, and I should share with other practitioners about the significance of persisting with this project with a clean and selfless mind without a show off mentality, and only then can more practitioners come to take part, and then the project can continue.

Cultivate with the heart you once had
From the 1st of October 2000 till today, more than twenty years have passed by. It has been a long time, and there has started to be some slackness. Sometimes I feel it is like fulfilling the duty of an ordinary person's work, the same as going through routine business. Day after day, year after year, everyday we meet with the same scene, and do the same sorts of things, and we can’t see the scene of a surge like a tidal wave, and there aren’t many experiences that are soul stirring.

I have often been asked, persisting for so many years has not been easy, how did you all manage this? I often also asked myself why I still want to persist with it?

Wasn’t our original wish to persist until that day when the persecution stopped? The CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong is still continuing, for what reason would we stop? Is it because the difficulties are great, and that we can’t overcome them? Can’t we continue onwards?

During every one of these seemingly ordinary days, this project allows us to seriously do the three things that Dafa disciples should do. Whilst practising cultivation in Dafa, our minds and bodies are continuously being purified and raised to higher levels, enabling us to endure trials and tests that our bodies encounter, whether it be during the scorching hot summer, and the freezing cold of the winter or during the uninterrupted rainy season, none of this can make the conviction and wish to persist onwards that everyone has waver.

In arranging turns for taking on the shifts there had also been some difficulty, and it was because I hadn’t done well, and in addition in recent years I had myself also taken part in media projects as well as promoting Shen Yun. If I could communicate more with fellow practitioners and share with them the history and meaning of this project, there would surely be more practitioners taking part. The reason why we haven’t yet accomplished this is because I have been afraid that fellow practitioners would say I had a mentality of showing off, or the vanity of being afraid of refusing to take part, or the fear of something troublesome. I realised, as long as one can improve oneself unceasingly, one can achieve “cultivate with the heart you once had”.

Master said in the “Fa Teaching at the 2019 New York Fa conference”:
“But as I just indicated, having made it through to the final phase, we should do even better at what we are supposed to do, for things are all the more critical toward the end. You made it through the earlier days when circumstances were so difficult and things were so evil, so there is no reason not to do still better now, in the final phase. When the persecution first began, the world’s media were passing on purposely misleading stories from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) state-run media, and it was hard for people to figure out what was really going on. But even in those trying circumstances, Dafa disciples around the world managed to change people’s views by explaining the truth to them, and overcame those challenges. So now, when we are at the end, you should cherish all of what you’ve accomplished and not—definitely not—let up in your own cultivation.”

Thank you Master. Thank you fellow practitioners. Please point out anything inappropriate in my sharing.

(Selected to the European Fa-conference 2022 in Warsaw)

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