Looking Back on July 20, 1999

Early in the morning on July 20, 1999, Chinese officials suddenly arrested the assistants at Falun Gong practice sites and began the public persecution of Falun Gong.

I. The persecution began covertly at an earlier date

Over the three to four years prior to July 1999, Communist agents had already interfered with the practice of Falun Gong. The interferences became more and more fierce. Master had lectured during that time, to guide practitioners how to protect and validate the Fa when it was undermined. It was a process for practitioners to improve and raise their cultivation levels. Due to practitioners' efforts, the persecution was restrained. Following is background information regarding the persecution:

1. In June 1996 officials breached the "Forbidden Three" policy on Qi-gong and Human Body Science ("no promotion, no dispute and no stick-whipping") and had its mouthpiece newspaper, Guangming Daily, attack Falun Gong. Practitioners went to the newspaper office and wrote letters as well to criticize and clarify the facts.

2. At the beginning of 1996 Zhuan Falun became the most popular book in Beijing, panicking the regime. In July 1996, the CCP's Publicity Department and the State Press and Publication Administration issued an internal order to all cities and provinces, prohibiting the publication of all Falun Gong books. Practitioners appealed and wrote letters to clarify the facts. Due to the high demand for Falun Gong books, unofficially published copies were being widely distributed.

3. In January 1997 and July 1998, The First Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security issued the "Notice to Investigate Falun Gong." This notice internally labelled Falun Gong as an "evil cult." The Ministry of Public Security carried out a series of investigations on Falun Gong that were known as "finding [Falun Gong] guilty first, and then collecting evidence." In May and June 1998, twenty-one celebrities wrote to state leaders. In August and September 1998, more than 160 high ranking experts and regime officials in the fields of science, education and the legal community wrote to the CCP Central Committee and the State Council to explain that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security "Notice" was against the Chinese Constitution and law. The letter also clarified the facts about Falun Gong.

In fact, officials at the Chinese Ministry of Public Security found nothing wrong during their nationwide investigation. Practitioners participated in "Ten Thousand Practitioners' Health Investigation" and documented the wonders of Falun Gong for improving health and curing illness. In addition, the investigation concluded that Falun Gong does nothing but good for the people and the country. The Ministry of Public Security's plot failed again.

4. Early in 1998, the Chinese National Sports Bureau had all Qi-gong associations re-register. Many practitioners went to the bureau to clarify the facts. Practitioners from the Beijing Assistance Centre and from the China Academy of Science (CAS) invited researcher Zhang from Institute of Psychology who was a committee member for the re-registration for a discussion meeting. He was also provided with detailed evidence of the miracles happening from Falun Gong practice. In October 1998, the Chinese National Sports Bureau sent a team to Changchun and Harbin to investigate Falun Gong. After the investigation, the team leader confirmed Falun Gong's beneficial effect on health and its positive role in improving social stability and people's spiritual demeanour. Video tapes from the investigation were widely distributed. The stories of Falun Gong practitioners' physical and spiritual improvement moved many people; numerous people began the practice.

5. The regime manipulated the media to frame Falun Gong. In 1998, newspapers such as Nanfang Weekend, The Qilu Evening News, China Youth Daily and others unceasingly published articles attacking Falun Gong. The China Buddhist Association publicly slandered Falun Gong as an "evil cult" in its publications. In June 1998 a religious publishing house distributed Mr. Chen's first book slandering Falun Gong and its founder. In December 1998 Falun Gong practitioners wrote a letter to Li Ruihuan, the Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference "regarding the public attacks of Falun Gong by the China Buddhist Association." The letter demanded identification of the perpetrators of the attacks, and be held responsible for their actions and punished accordingly. My husband Li Baoqing also participated in writing to criticize Chen's slanderous book and to stop the conspiracy of framing Falun Gong.

6. In May 1998, CAS member He Zuoxiu (a relative of the CCP Central 610 Office head Luo Gan) told lies and slandered Falun Gong on Beijing TV. More than a thousand practitioners went to the Beijing TV Station to clarify the facts. Eight practitioner representatives told their own stories of benefiting from practising Falun Gong and pointed out that He Zuoxiu's attack on Falun Gong was unjustified. Shocked by the stories told by the practitioners, Beijing TV officials acknowledged that its previous negative program on Falun Gong was the biggest mistake the station had ever made since it was established. Beijing TV officials later broadcast another TV program with a Falun Gong practitioner's interview to correct the mistake. The producer of the previous program was dismissed. The incident was thus peacefully settled down and the regime's plot failed.

Practitioners kept writing, calling, and sending materials to clarify the facts to government agencies. Government departments received huge volumes of letters. Many practitioners (including my husband Li Baoqing) went to petition at the CCP Central Committee Appeals Office, the State Council Appeals Office, the CCP Publicity Department, the State Press and Publication Administration, the National Sports Bureau and with the media. The truth-clarification effort made more people understand the truth. A woman met with us when my husband and I went to the Publicity Department's Appeals Office. After she listened to our cultivation experience she said, "If you feel it is good, you can continue to practice." We could see that people's friendly attitude toward Falun Gong at that time. They did not have hatred. Persecuting Falun Gong was against people's will.

7. The regime did not want to easily let go. So they plotted mass arrests in the city of Tianjin. He Zuoxiu again was the one who attacked Falun Gong. Practitioners from CAS went to He's home to clarify the facts to him. He refused to let us in and was very rude. Practitioners at CAS wrote a joint letter to the head of CAS, to report He Zuoxiu's slanderous report of Falun Gong based on false evidence, which is against science ethics. The CCP arrested 45 practitioners in Tianjin, leading to the "April 25" peaceful appeal in Beijing. More than ten thousand practitioners peacefully appealed outside the State Council Appeals Office. This shocked the world and brought widespread international attention to the plight of Falun Gong in China.

8. The April 25 appeal terrified the Communist regime. In his speech on June 7, 1999, the then-CCP head Jiang Zemin decided to persecute Falun Gong.

II. The Communist Regime Preparing for the Persecution Between April 25 and July 20, 1999

Great duress followed the April 25 appeal and the pressure was huge. The CCP was two-faced. Their words did not coincide with their actions. They continued to harass practitioners and undermine Dafa, step by step. Though faced with huge pressure, practitioners continued to study the Fa, practice the exercises, appeal, clarify the facts and safeguard Dafa.

1. Spies were sent to exercise sites. All of a sudden, the number of people at the practice sites increased significantly. Police were monitoring the sites.

2. Orders were given that no workplace was allowed to provide any support or conveniences for Falun Gong activities, including the places for Fa study and practising exercises.

3. Officials at the Public Security Bureau gave orders that copying any materials related to Falun Gong was forbidden. We still managed to distribute the materials we had. We also copied and distributed Master's lectures given in Australia, Singapore and Canada.

4. Falun Gong practitioners' phones were tapped.

5. Some Falun Gong assistants in Beijing and other places were monitored and segregated.

6. The Beijing practice site usually had more than one thousand people practising the exercises together. The regime banned the group exercise site in front of the National Oceanic Bureau building. To prevent additional group exercises, the Public Security Bureau announced a policy that any gathering of more than 500 people was considered an illegal assembly.

On May 18 we had a group exercise at the Zhongguancun Playground. The plain cloth police were watching us closely. Outside the playground police cars were waiting.

In early June, 200 practitioners from our Xueyuan Road assistant centre exercised together. Ten police vehicles and close to 20 policemen surrounded our practice site. Two people carried camcorders to video tape us. No cars or people were allowed to pass through. Many military police and cars were ambushing in nearby forest, the environment was filled with terror.

7. After April 25, 1999, officials at the CCP Central Military Committee issued an order: soldiers or military officials are forbidden to believe in or practice Falun Gong. They are forbidden to participate in any Falun Gong activities. If they disobey, they would be forced to give up on their uniform and be sent back to their home town. Many military officials continued to practice Falun Gong anyway.

8. Rumours spread. In early May, one rumour circulated that Falun Gong practitioners would commit group suicide. Following that, more rumours circulated. It was rumoured that on May 13, Falun Gong practitioners would go to Xiangshan Mountain outside Beijing to celebrate Master's birthday, and then commit mass suicide. The regime's intent in contriving this rumour was to deceive practitioners to go to Xiangshan, so authorities could surround and kill them, making it appear they had committed mass suicide. That would provide the authorities with much-desired evidence of their fabrications, that Falun Gong is an "evil cult." Practitioners didn't fall into the trap, however.

9. On June 7, 1999, Jiang Zemin spoke at a Politburo conference, adamantly declaring that the Falun Gong issue needs to be resolved in a timely manner. The 610 Office was established, to plan and execute a large-scale oppression of Falun Gong. Since this declaration was part of a conspiracy, it had to be kept secret. But the persecution needed to be carried out, the order had to be passed down. An order was issued that no one was permitted to read the original document. The Party secretaries were required to disseminate the order verbally with their own words. In addition, Party and Youth League members were ordered not to practice Falun Gong.

10. The regime plotted other underhanded schemes. They concocted lies and rumours, but on the other hand they turned around and said Falun Gong was spreading rumours; the officials gave Jiang Zemin-issued orders that no one could practice Falun Gong, while their newspapers declared that they never banned the Falun Gong practice. The ruling minions intentionally created chaos - to place Falun Gong in a bad light! Many people later had a chance to listen to Jiang's June 7 speech, and they found out that it was completely opposite what had been published in the People's Daily on June 14, 1999.

11. Police harassing practitioners at practice sites increased constantly in 1999. Many of the Beijing practice sites were disturbed. We heard that practitioners in Xinjiang, Liaonin and Shandong Province were detained, fined or had their homes ransacked. The situation worsened.

III. On July 20, 1999, the Communist Regime Started the Persecution of Falun Gong Openly

On July 19, 1999 Jiang Zemin gave the order to persecute Falun Gong. On July 20, the members of Falun Dafa Association were arrested. To speak the just words for Falun Gong, many practitioners went to appeal and validate the Fa.

1. Appealing on July 21, 1999

In the morning of July 21, I rode my bike toward the State Council Appeals Office. One policeman blocked me at 7:00 a.m. Without showing his identification he searched my purse, attempted to take my tape recorder and Falun Dafa tapes. I resisted. The policeman twisted my arms and hands (bruised on my arm), took my personal belongings and pulled me to the other side of the street. Three policemen were there, he told their boss, "She is Falun Gong!" They then forced me into a police vehicle and took me to the Tiananmen Square Police Station.

Dozens of practitioners were detained there. We were made to enter a large van and taken to the Shijingshan Stadium. More practitioners were arriving; we were more than ten thousand. Many stayed outside of the stadium; inside the stadium, the number was perhaps three to four thousand. Police were all over the place and forbade us to move around. It was the end of July, the middle of summer in Beijing. All windows and doors were shut tight. It was very hot. I asked the police, "We went to appeal to clarify the facts. Why are you locking us up here? Let us go! We need to appeal!" I stood up and walked out. Many practitioners followed. A group of police rushed over to stop us. All practitioners recited Master's articles and Hong Yin together, one poem after another. The practitioners' voices reverberated throughout the stadium. They video-taped the practitioners, to gather evidence for further persecution.

Around 6:00 p.m. a Beijing city official came to speak to us. He brought with him people with the different district name signs and made us follow them based on our own districts of residence. This was a ploy to control us separately, so we did not follow their orders. Many armed police arrived in the stadium later on and forced us to leave. I called practitioners to link hands and arms so they could not separate us. The police then used violence even on women, the elderly and children. It became chaotic. I saw two police officers pulling and pushing an older woman. She cried, struggled and held a copy of "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (ICCPR) tight in her hands. She shouted, "You are violating this International Covenant! You are violating human rights!" The police came up to her, tore the Covenant from her hands and tossed it on the floor and shouted, "What Covenant! Nonsense!"

They did not respect the law. Two policemen twisted my hands and fingers and pinched my arms and pulled my legs. It hurt so much. They pulled me out of the stadium and pushed us into another van travelling toward the Chaoyang District Workers' Stadium. They did not let me go until the middle of the night.

We did not eat and drink for the whole day in this summer heat. We were so hungry and thirsty and mentally and physically suffered for 16 hours.

2. Appealing Again on July 22, 1999

In the morning of July 22, 1999 I went to petition at the State Council Appeals Office in Xianmen. Many police vehicles and policemen were already on the street, preventing me from getting close to the office. Several hundred practitioners were gathered at the east side of Xisi T-type Street and requested to appeal. More and more practitioners eventually joined in. Many were from other provinces. Some had brought their children. We made sure we were not blocking store entrances and the pedestrian crossings. We waited patiently for an opportunity to clarify the facts with the officials at the Appeals Office. At the same time many practitioners gathered at Liubukou on Changan Street to appeal.

Without warning, around 9:00 a.m. many armed policemen emerged from a bus and surrounded practitioners in segments. They stood closely in front of us. Immediately a feeling of terror filled the air. Obviously, they were ready to start something evil, but the practitioners remained unaffected. To encourage all of us I shouted loudly "By remaining unmoved you can handle all situations."

Next to me was a woman practitioner from the Northeast who had her four or five-year-old daughter with her. Sensing danger, she immediately wrote a note with her address on and put it in her daughter's pocket with some money. She tearfully pushed the girl out and said, "Hurry up and go to the train station! Show people this note and beg someone to buy you a train ticket to go home! Mom has to stay here!" The girl held onto her mother, crying, and did not want to leave. How could a young child like her go home by herself? I cried as well. I stood before them to block the policemen saying, "The police can't take you! Hurry up and run!" But just then the police rushed toward us and attempted to arrest practitioners. We did not strike back. We held hands together. Two policemen twisted my arms and hands, pull me and hit my head. A few practitioners shouted, "Stop beating people! Stop beating people!" But the police completely ignored us. While struggling with the police I saw the police taking mother and her daughter away. They did not even let go of the young child!

Many people at Xisi were shocked by the police violence. We were forced into a bus. We shouted to the people, "Falun Dafa is good! Falun Dafa is the righteous Fa!" We recited Lunyu and Hong Yin. People tearfully waved goodbye.

The bus took us to a far Beijing suburb. No one knew where they were taking us. When we got to a yard I saw the sign reading Haidian District Yongfeng Township Police Station. We were detained in an auditorium. There were about a thousand practitioners. They compelled us to register. The police abused us, made us suffer from heat, hunger and thirst. As mentioned, this was hot summer weather that made people feel suffocated from the heat. In the afternoon police officials said, "The CCTV and radio station broadcast a ban on the Falun Dafa Association and announced 'Six Clauses for Public Security.' Stop making troubles!"

This was to persecute Falun Gong openly, we should immediately appeal to stop it. But we were detained there. I was so anxious. Officials from various districts took practitioners to the relevant police stations. No one from the Chaoyang District's police station had arrived by the middle of the night. The police had to release the last of several practitioners and me and let us go home by our own. The 14 hours of physical and mental tormented had severely hurt me.

My husband and daughter were in the United States then. I was by myself. They tried to call me and could not reach me. My daughter called her friend to help look for me, but no one could find me. My daughter worried so much she cried and was scared. My husband was anxious as well. They worried about my safety. Citizens in Communist-governed China could get arrested at any time and could go missing any time. People's safety is threatened and their families will suffer as well.

Many practitioners were detained in the Fengtai Stadium.

IV. Peaceful Appeal

After July 20, 1999, practitioners continued to appeal and clarify the facts and later went to Tiananmen Square to validate Dafa.

We also hosted many practitioners who came to Beijing to appeal.

Each time practitioners went to petition with the Appeals Office there was a chance they could get arrested. But practitioners still kept going there fearlessly to validate the Fa. Once back from the united States my husband Li Baoqing attempted to hand a letter to officials at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, to clarify the fact that Falun Gong is a great practice from which society can greatly benefit and should not be persecuted. He requested officials at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to abide by the Constitution and initiate an investigation on the persecution of Falun Gong. The security person at the gate not only refused to accept the letter, but also called the police to arrest my husband.

The CCP has made the Appeals Office into the Public Security Bureau. Practitioners have the rights to appeal, but were arrested and persecuted.

Practitioners exposed the persecution to the international community during the Guangzhou Fa Conference and the Beijing Press Conference. That greatly encouraged many practitioners. Overseas practitioners also came to Beijing to share experiences with Beijing practitioners.

I had by then been detained and interrogated five times in the Public Security Bureau. I was also detained in my own workplace and was monitored at my home. But I still participated in many experience-sharing meetings and offered overseas practitioners to stay in my home and also organized experience-sharing meetings in my home. On February 2, 2000 I organized an experience sharing conference with practitioners from Australia, the United States, other provinces in China and Beijing. We shared our thoughts on validating the Fa at Tiananmen Square in the Chinese New Year.

On February 4 and 5, 2000 (the eve and first day of the Chinese New Year), more than one thousand practitioners went to Tiananmen Square to validate the Fa. The number of practitioners and their righteousness terrified the evil. Practitioners' action were a clear announcement that the CCP's attempt to "eradicate Falun Gong within three months" had failed miserably. It also encouraged practitioners to continue to validate the Fa at Tiananmen Square.

In the meantime, information about this Fa-rectification activity became disseminated on the Internet and had a great impact internationally. This irritated Jiang Zemin who called this the "Tiananmen Square Incident" and demanded a "complete investigation," to find all of the organizers. Under the directory of 610 Office, this incident was designated as the "204 case," the regime officials commenced massive arrests, detentions and interrogations and sentencing of practitioners. Eight other practitioners and I were determined to be the "organizers" of this incident. I was sentenced three years in prison where I was force-fed, injected with unknown substances, deprived of sleep and brutally tortured and mentally tormented. I was compelled to have physical exams, do slave labour overtime and had my blood drawn. Looking at this financially, so far I have not been paid my deserved retirement benefits.

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