Switzerland: Information Evening at the University of Berne

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

On January 31, 2002 we were able to use a lecture hall at the university on condition that we did not speak about political issues or the persecution, because the university is neutral territory.

Since this was to be my first presentation I did not want to prepare too much, because I did not want to limit myself. I thought that things would take their natural course.

In the evening, half an hour prior to the presentation, Falun Dafa practitioners showed up, bringing with them photographs about the persecution, music CDs, banners with the words “Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.” Others brought transparencies for the overhead projector. I was quite surprised, not expecting things to fall into place this easily. Dafa [Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance] is really like a diamond, sparkling in all directions.

Unexpectedly, ten interested people showed up. I introduced myself and told of my experiences, how I came to know Falun Gong, and then I read “Lunyu” [introductory text in Falun Gong] out loud. The attendees looked friendly and smiled pleasantly. I thought this turn of events could be fate; they did not even ask critical questions, only listened and looked appreciatively. For some reason I could not shake the impression that I had seen these people before. When I had finished reading “Lunyu” I showed the video “The Way back” and sensed an increase in people’s interest.

Following that we demonstrated the five exercises and gave a few commentaries. One older gentleman did not participate much. After completion of the exercise demonstration a few practitioners shared their experiences. Then we were ready to answer questions. One gentleman asked, “How do you fund all these things?” I responded that we all have a job and work and merely want to do something good for others, that’s why we voluntarily spend our own money. Yet another person wanted to know my definition of “Truthfulness.” I then explained the three principles.

A woman asked whether the reasons that none of the [persecuted] practitioners so far had fought back could be found in the principle of “Forbearance,” and she wanted to know more about the persecution. I responded by saying that we are committed not to speak about the persecution in this lecture hall and must do so outside, but we still abide by truthfulness and must correct anything in doubt or which is untrue. I therefore wrote down the details of the Falun Dafa website for her and suggested that she could inform herself further that way. Since she still seemed vastly interested in the situation in China, she waited patiently, took a few newspapers with her and accompanied me out of the lecture hall. Once outside, we discussed the situation in China. She listened patiently and when she heard what I had to say, she was shocked. She could not understand why were not permitted to speak about this at the university. According to her, the Swiss government seems only interest in economic matters and cares very little about Falun Gong human rights abuses, fearing that such interest could infringe upon Switzerland’s business dealings with China.

Another woman told me she would definitely come to the practice site and try and do the exercises. Someone else wanted to give us some money, to support us. I told this man that we never accept money. If he really wanted to support and help us, he ought to tell his colleagues and his family members about the Falun Gong practitioners’ situation in China. We would really appreciate that. As a final act, we distributed evaluation sheets about our presentation, to help us improve for our next presentation. The feedback was altogether positive.

At the beginning of this undertaking I had not been too motivated, because we had the restriction put on us not to speak about the persecution, but we did our best, nonetheless, and the presentation had been a success. All those who did participate showed understanding toward Falun Gong and wanted to read “the book;” others wanted to help somehow and yet others wanted to come to the practice site, where we can talk more about the persecution in China.

Practitioner in Switzerland

(Original text in German)

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