Editor's Note: To commemorate the ninth anniversary of the April 25 Appeal, this is one of a series of republished articles from years past. The April 25th Appeal was notable not only for its size, but also because it was remarkably peaceful and orderly. Some 10,000 practitioners gathered in central Beijing that day, peacefully protesting for their civil rights. The CCP propaganda machine, however, in its quest to crush Falun Gong at the bidding of then Party Chairman Jiang Zemin, twisted the facts to serve its own motives. To this day, CCP propaganda accuses Falun Gong of "laying siege to the Zhongnanhai Central Government Compound" on April 25, 1999, falsely alleging that the 10,000 gathered posed a violent threat to the nation and its leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as this series of articles documents from various angles.
On April 25, 1999, about ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners went to the Appeals Office of the State Council in Beijing, requesting the authorities to grant them a free and legitimate environment for their practice, which became the well-known "April 25th Mass Appeal". As the petitioning crowds were later led by the police to the vicinity of Zhongnanhai, the office and residential compound for China's top leaders, some also have called it the "April 25th Zhongnanhai Incident." Many people believed that the persecution of Falun Gong would not have happened were it not for the April 25th Appeal. But actually that view does not hold.
First, the suppression of Falun Gong started several years prior to the April 25th Appeal. In July 1996, China News Press, a government news publisher, took administrative measures to confiscate Falun Gong books and ordered that no publishers would be allowed to publish books introducing Falun Gong. While numerous state-run newspapers and journals carried articles slandering Falun Gong, not a single article defending Falun Gong was allowed to be published. In July 1998, China's Ministry of Public Security decided in an internal document to ban Falun Gong. In other words, the suppression of Falun Gong had long been premeditated and was not ignited by the April 25th Appeal.
Secondly, the Chinese communist regime has never needed legitimate grounds to attack and persecute any civil group. The regime did not have any legitimate reasons when it suppressed landlords, businessmen, and intellectuals. Excuses such as "[landlords] took lands, [businessmen] were bursting with wealth, and [intellectuals] had too free a mind" were all absurdities concocted when they did not have any legitimate reasons. The April 25th Appeal was also used by the regime to justify its persecution. Even if the April 25th appeal had not occurred, the communist regime in China could have created other grounds for persecution all the same. The fact is, before the April 25th Appeal, the Chinese communist regime had anticipated that Falun Gong practitioners would resort to petitions after practitioners in Tianjin City were beaten and illegally arrested by police, an incident incited by the authorities. The regime could have stopped Falun Gong practitioners from going to the Appeals Office in Beijing if it had wanted to. Instead the Jiang clique employed the trick of "abetting practitioners" and the Tianjin police even explicitly told practitioners to go to Beijing to "resolve their grievances." So, in a sense, the April 25th incident was masterminded single-handedly by the Chinese communist regime itself.
Thirdly, in any case, the April 25th petition can never be the grounds for persecution. In China, appealing to higher authorities is a legitimate right laid down in law. Falun Gong practitioners went to appeal on April 25, 1999 only after they had been defamed and wronged, so their petition was completely sensible, legitimate, and reasonable. Having a large number of people is not a legitimate reason for persecution. In 2001, more than 20 thousand people from about ten organisations and groups were protesting near the White House when President Bush's inauguration was being held. On September 24, 2005, tens of thousands of protesters were holding demonstrations against the war in Iraq in Washington, DC Besides, in the April 25th Appeal, the peaceful and rational Falun Gong practitioners had been quiet and orderly, and did not disrupt the public order or people's daily life. They dispersed quietly when they received a reply to their requests. In any truly democratic country, such a peaceful and co-operative demeanour would have been appreciated instead of persecuted.
It is true that many Chinese have no way of speaking up for themselves and upholding their rights when their rights are abused. But that is no reason for chiding Falun Gong practitioners for speaking the truth and upholding their legitimate rights on April 25, 1999. It is even less reasonable to approve of the Chinese communist regime for its using the incident as grounds for persecution. If one does not stand up when his right to believe in the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and the right to become a good person are deprived, is he still worth living as a human being? Is there any hope for such a state? And is there any future for such a nation?
During decades of rule by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), fear has been sown deep in the people's minds. Deeply poisoned by the CCP's party culture, many people are afraid of being persecuted and ostensibly show their trust in the CCP. Some people blindly believe that the CCP is definitely correct and whatever the CCP says is true. Others are willing to always be in line with the CCP and follow it in fighting anything that is against the CCP, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. With such a mindset brainwashed by the party culture, many Chinese have lost their own judgement and have become slaves to the CCP and prisoners of the party culture.
From this perspective, the April 25th Appeal not only showed Falun Gong practitioners' peaceful and rational demeanour, but more importantly, it shed light on how people can free themselves from the prison of the party culture, find their true selves and recover their right to be a human being. This is something one should be clear about at a time when people are reflecting more and more upon the CCP's history and China is moving toward a peaceful transition.
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