On the Fifth Anniversary of the "April 25 Appeal" - Remembering April 25, 1999

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Clearwisdom correspondent Gu Anru reports: Five years ago on April 25, 1999, approximately 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners went to appeal to the State Council's Appeals Office on Fuyou Street in Beijing. The world stood still as the Falun Gong practitioners appealed in a peaceful, rational, trusting, tolerant and highly self-disciplined manner.

Nevertheless, on July 20 of the same year, Jiang Zemin's cohorts began a rigorous persecution of Falun Gong, using the government machinery to slander and attack Falun Gong. The Chinese Nation and the entire world were covered under huge lies. Falun Gong has suffered injustice for that. For a time, many people thought Falun Gong practitioners who went to appeal had political motives, and that the "April 25 Appeal" triggered the persecution.

When the "April 25 Appeal" comes for the fifth anniversary, I will try to review the stories, cause and effect about the "April 25 Appeal," as well as to restore historic facts in order to further expose the truth about the "April 25 Appeal," and help people look at the catastrophe that is happening in China and the appeal itself, and to make informed conclusions.

The Falun Gong incident of April 25, 1999 was neither a sudden, accidental event, nor was it the kind of political demonstration surrounding the important government compound as claimed by Jiang Zemin's group. From the written attacks that began during the July 1996 Guangming Daily incident to the mobilisation of police and using violence in Tianjin in April 1999, the development and escalation of the persecution happened over a period of three years.

Historic Background for the Peaceful "April 25 Appeal"

1. The Wide Introduction of Falun Dafa to the Public

On May 13, 1992, Mr. Li Hongzhi held the first Falun Gong workshop in Changchun, and began to publicly introduce Falun Dafa to the society. Since then, Falun Dafa has spread throughout China, benefiting millions of people. People who practised Falun Dafa become healthy both in mind and body, and their moral standard improved. The Chinese government supported and promoted Falun Gong, and issued awards for Falun Gong.

The Qigong Research Association of China (QRAC), which was administrated by the government, awarded Mr. Li Hongzhi a Qigong Master certificate. In 1993, QRAC also issued the Falun Gong Research Association Beijing a "QRAC Accredited Qigong School Registration Certificate," officially indicating the classification of the Falun Gong Research Association as an "academic organisation." Its range of operations was "theoretical studies and research, promoting the practice; consultative services" and the scope for these activities was all of China.

On August 31, 1993, the China Jianyi Yongwei Foundation (CJYF) [a foundation under the administration of the Ministry of Public Security for awarding the people who voluntarily combat criminals out of conscience and morality] wrote a letter to QRAC to thank Mr. Li Hongzhi for offering free healing and rehabilitation treatments to the delegates at the "Third National Outstanding CJYF Individuals Honouring Conference." The People's Public Security Newspaper, published by the Public Security Ministry, even featured this event on September 21, 1993. On December 27, CJYF conferred on Mr. Li Hongzhi an honorary certificate.

In 1993, Mr. Li Hongzhi was honoured by the Beijing Oriental Health Expo with the highest award in the conference, "The Award for Advancing Frontier Sciences," as well the "Special Gold Award." He was also given the title of "Most Acclaimed Qigong Master."

In January 1995, the book Zhuan Falun, written by Mr. Li Hongzhi, was published by a government-run publisher, China Broadcasting and Television Publishing House. The book became one of Beijing's best sellers listed in the Beijing Youth Daily in January 1996.

By early 1999, based on a Chinese government survey, at least 70 million people of all walks of life all over China were practising Falun Gong.

2. Undercurrent of the Persecution

In several years, the number of Falun Gong practitioners rapidly increased, reaching tens of million. Some leaders in the Chinese Communist Government worried that this would become a political issue. Some individuals then used this circumstance to unceasingly create disturbances in order to gain individual political capital. Thus the incidents including many kinds of investigations, wrongful propaganda and unfair treatment that were intended to continuously damage the reputation and image of Falun Gong.

On June 17, 1996, Guangming Daily, the mouthpiece of the State Council, published an article by a columnist denouncing Falun Gong. On July 24, 1996, the Chinese News Publication Bureau issued a nationwide circular, banning the distribution of all Falun Gong publications nationwide.

In early 1997, the Public Security Bureau began a nationwide investigation to gather evidence in the hopes of casting Falun Gong as an "evil cult." However, all of the police departments around the country finally reported after much investigation, "no evidence found so far." The investigations thus came to an end.

At the end of May 1998, He Zuoxiu denounced Falun Gong in an interview at Beijing Television Station, saying it was harmful. After that, when showing an interview at a Falun Gong practice site, the program claimed that Falun Gong was "feudalistic superstition." After the program was broadcast, practitioners who actually knew the individual who had been brought up as an example by He Zuoxiu in the program immediately pointed out to He Zuoxiu and the Beijing TV Station that the program was contrary to the fact because that individual wasn't even a Falun Gong practitioner. In the ensuing days, based on the central government's policy of "Three No's" regarding Qigong - "No Criticism, No Argument, No Reporting," some practitioners visited or wrote letters to the TV station to clarify the truth by telling their own personal experiences of practising Falun Gong. Later, the TV Station executives said that broadcasting that program had been the most serious mistake ever made since the startup of the TV Station. So, as a correction, the TV station very quickly broadcast a positive program on Falun Gong, showing practitioners peacefully practising Falun Gong exercises along with other people practising their morning exercises in the park.

On July 21, 1998, the First Division of the Public Security Bureau issued a circular - No. 555 - "Notification Regarding Starting an Investigation of Falun Gong." The notification adopted the procedure that first determines guilt, then makes investigations. The notification claimed that Mr. Li Hongzhi was spreading rumours and evil teachings and that some core practitioners were engaged in illegal activities in the name of Falun Gong. The notification also mentioned that the departments of police, politics and security in each area should begin a thorough investigation to get inside information on Falun Gong activities and find evidence of crimes committed by core practitioners of Falun Gong.

This notification trigged local police departments in a number of areas around the country, without the evidences, to illegally raid Falun Gong practice sites, forcibly disperse practitioners, search homes, break and enter into civilian residences, confiscate people's private property and so on. Because the national media took the attitude of "no reporting" towards this notice or its consequences, the majority of the Chinese public at that time was not aware of what was happening.

3. Positive Government Appraisal from Official Investigation

In the latter half of 1998, a group of retired National People's Congress officials led by Qiao Shi [the former Chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress] conducted a detailed investigation and study over a certain period of time on Falun Gong, because so many members of the public had sent letters mentioning the Public Security Bureau's illegal treatment of Falun Gong practitioners. The conclusion of the study was that "Falun Gong only benefits and does no harm to the nation and the people." This report was delivered to the Politburo headed by Jiang Zemin.

Prior to this, in May of 1998, the National Sports Commission had also conducted a comprehensive investigation and study into Falun Gong. In September, in order to correlate with this study, a team made up of medical experts did a questionnaire survey of a sample of 12,553 Falun Gong practitioners in Guangdong Province. The results clearly indicated that the rate of effectiveness for improving health and fitness was 97.9%. On October 20, the head of the research team sent to Changchun and Harbin by the National Sports Commission said, "We feel that both the Falun Gong exercises and their effectiveness are quite good. The impact on the stability of society and the strengthening of the spiritual culture are all quite evident. This deserves to be fully recognised." During this time, non-governmental studies into the efficacy of Falun Gong in Dalian, Beijing and elsewhere also produced consistent results. (Source material: videotape: 1998 National Qigong Review and Investigation Group speak at a conference in Changchun)

(To be continued)

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