NEW YORK -- "On this day, thirteen years ago, in a humble school house in a corner of northeast China, a teaching was first introduced to the public that has since transformed the lives of tens of millions of people the world over," said Levi Browde, the New York Area Falun Dafa Association spokesperson, "That teaching was Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong."
At City Hall Park last Friday, May 13, Falun Dafa practitioners celebrated World Falun Dafa Day, commemorating the 13th anniversary of the public teaching of Falun Dafa.
Falun Dafa is an exercise and meditation practice with roots in ancient Chinese culture. The slow-motion exercises are reported by practitioners to improve health and decrease stress. The core teachings of Falun Dafa are the three principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance.
"Falun Dafa Day is a celebration of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance," said Vivian Song a student at Carnegie Mellon University who has been practicing Falun Dafa for three years.
"It has been really beneficial for my mind and body," said Song.
Several hundred practitioners and passersby stopped to watch a graceful exercise demonstration, listen to songs sung in Chinese, watch an elegant dance performance, and hear news of Falun Dafa, both about the practice, and of the ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners that is now happening in mainland China.
Greetings were read in Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, Korean, French and Russian. Several proclamations from state and local officials were read, including those from Congressman Ed Towns, State Senator Carl Andrews, and State Assemblyman Nick Perry.
Similar celebrations took place in all corners of the globe, from Tokyo to Rome, Latvia to California. According to Falun Dafa Web sites, Falun Dafa is now practiced in over 70 countries around the world. Only in China is the practice illegal.
Browde summarized the persecution in China "tragically, beginning almost six years ago, a few Chinese Communist Party members saw Falun Dafa's emphasis on high morals and clean living as a threat to their political power, which thrives on corruption, suppression and killing."
According to Browde, over 42,000 cases of severe abuse or torture of Falun Dafa practitioners in Chinese prison camps and detention centers have been documented. Thousands have died, and hundreds of thousands languish in labor camps and detention centers across China.
Many of the abuses and deaths have also been documented and condemned by the U.S. government and human rights organizations like Amnesty International and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
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