Bulgaria: Practitioners Gather for a Parade In Sofia

On May 23 2009, Falun Gong practitioners from the Balkan Peninsula, Austria, Spain, Ukraine, Germany and the USA, gathered in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, for the first ever Falun Gong parade and rally held in the country. Early in the morning they demonstrated the exercises in Boris Garden.

The parade started with a peaceful appeal in front of the Chinese embassy in Sofia. Practitioners unfolded banners and posters protesting the brutal persecution by the Communist regime in China. In China, Falun Gong practitioners are still tortured, detained in labour camps, psychiatric hospitals and prisons, and even killed. More than 3,200 deaths as a result of torture have been confirmed, but according to inside sources the real number of deaths is likely far more.

Ms. Wei Liu, a Chinese practitioner currently living in Germany, participated in the day's activities. She was subjected to torture in a labour camp and a prison in China for almost two years before managing to go to Germany as a student. Ms. Liu revealed her suffering: she was physically and psychologically tortured, and forced to produce products for export. She said that this is one of the big reasons for the cheap products "made in China", which are flooding the market in Bulgaria and other countries. In 2006, an international report by two Canadian experts David Kilgour and David Matas concluded that in China Falun Gong practitioners are used as a live organ bank for transplantation, and that their organs are sold to foreign patients. The practitioners' remains are cremated to destroy evidence of the atrocities.

After the appeal in front of the Chinese Embassy, the procession headed towards the Foreign Ministry. There, a representative from the Bulgarian Falun Dafa Association read an open letter addressed to the Ministry, to the National Parliament and to the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria, appealing to these institutions to support Falun Gong practitioners and to help stop the killings of innocent people in China by the totalitarian Communist regime.

Practitioners hold banners during the rally in front of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia Former MP and democratic activist Mr. Edwin Sugarev speaks in support of Falun Gong in front of the National Palace of Culture

The parade passed through the downtown area of Sofia and was supported by the police. In front of the National Parliament practitioners again stopped and read the open letter. Many passersby – pedestrians and drivers from their cars – were quite interested in the parade and took flyers from the practitioners. The same procedure was held in front of the building of the Council of Ministers situated in the heart of Sofia.

The last leg of the parade was the main commercial street called Vitosha Boulevard. Many people who were out in the sunny and hot day observed the procession and took flyers to learn more about the goal of the parade and about Falun Gong.

Along the whole parade around three hours, practitioners narrated with a loudspeaker the story of Falun Gong, the facts of the persecution, the facts of the CCP's live organ harvesting and the pressure which the Chinese embassy imposes on Bulgarian institutions to not support the practitioners. Everyone was also urged to support the effort to stop the persecution and expose the crimes of the Communist regime in China.

In front of the National Palace of Culture, practitioners organized a rally with several speakers. A victim of the persecution spoke first. Then two addresses were read on behalf of Ms. Maria Kapon, MP and Mr. Dimitar Abajiev, MP and applicant for the European parliament. After them, Mr. Ivan Kostadinov, lawyer and member of the leadership of the political party the Greens gave a speech.

Mr. Edwin Sugarev, who is a former MP and a former ambassador of Bulgaria to India, also supported the rally. For a second time he came to speak in protest of the persecution of Falun Gong. The rally was also supported by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) with the presence of Mr. Emil Cohen. The BHC has helped practitioners of Falun Gong in Bulgaria for several years. Mr. Cohen shared that the rally is a historical point for the civil society in Bulgaria and even more for the future development of Falun Dafa in the country, as for the first time the events of Bulgarian Falun Dafa Association (BFDA) were officially supported by Bulgarian politicians. BHC is also the legal advisor of BFDA in its claim against discrimination in the Strasbourg court. The Bulgarian practitioners were deprived from their rights to peaceful appeal in front of the Chinese embassy. The discrimination was due to diplomatic pressure from the Chinese embassy to the Foreign ministry. The practitioners were denied permission for peaceful appeals for almost two years. It ended when BFDA filed three claims against Bulgarian authorities in court. The claim in Strasbourg is a further measure to the legal proceedings in Bulgaria.

Originally published in Bulgarian at http://bg.clearharmony.net/articles/200905/3851.html

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