Bearing Witness to History: Secret Press Conference in Beijing on the 28th of October 1999

Going to Dalian

I arrived by air in Beijing in August 24th 1999 from Sweden and the next day I went on to my intended destination, Dalian (a city in the northeast of China). Was it the correct decision to leave my home country and come to China after the persecution of Falun Gong began? After all, what could I do in China to help? Before leaving I had discussed this issue with fellow practitioners and most of them suggested that I stay at home or, if I did go, not to make contact with fellow practitioners. But could I last a year without trying to contact any practitioner? I promised myself to first wait and see, then try to find out what was really going on in China.

Meeting fellow practitioners

Nearly one month had passed before I first made contact. I had a phone number that a practitioner in Sweden had given me. I found the phone number and dialled it. A lady answered and I introduced myself to her by saying I got her number from friends in Sweden. We arranged to meet in a restaurant. When I saw her my eyes filled with tears for the suffering she and other had gone through. I was so happy to meet her. Although we had never seen each other before, we had a lot to share. She told me that practitioners had gone to Beijing to appeal to the Chinese Government, and ask them to rescind the arrest warrant for Master Li, to release all Falun Dafa practitioners and to restore the reputation of Falun Dafa.

We met once more at her place and decided that the following weekend we would study together. However when I called to make arrangements, she didn't answer. I didn’t know what had happened. Later I learned from her friend's daughter that she had gone to Beijing.

Going to Beijing to validate the Fa

I often thought that I also should go to Beijing, but worried that I wouldn't be able to find anyone. One night three weeks later my dream came true. That night I couldn't sleep the entire night. In the early morning the phone rang and I was little surprised, but when I heard who it was, I was very glad. The practitioner from Dalian called me and said she was in Beijing and I should also go. I had been longing to go there and finally I had the chance.

I told my roommate that I wouldn’t be attending that day’s lesson and instead left for the train station to buy a ticket. It was the first time I had bought a ticket in Chinese and I had a hard time understanding the lady behind the till. But I understood that there where no tickets for the night train. One man heard I was looking for a ticket and he offered to sell me his ticket to Beijing. I wasn’t sure that the ticket was real but decided to buy it anyway. I bought the ticket and the man repeated many times which time the train would leave. We parted and suddenly the man was behind me and said, "please don’t miss the train tonight." He again showed me what time it was leaving and from which gate, and I thanked him. That evening at the train station I saw a lot of policemen, probably trying to find practitioners. I even heard some of the staff making jokes that perhaps I, as a foreigner, was a practitioner. They let me board the train.

I brought only a little clothing with me and the next morning when I arrived in Beijing, the weather had turned very cold (when a practitioner saw I was cold she gave me a jacket she had bought for practitioners who didn´t have enough clothes. I knew someone needed it more than me but she didn´t want to listen to that and gave it to me). I took a cab to the meeting place and there was another practitioner with her. We went for breakfast and I was told we would join a secret press conference at noon time. She wanted us to look nice so we all went to a hairdresser.

The Secret Press Conference

That day, around thirty practitioners had gathered in a suburb of Beijing. International media were invited to attend the press meeting and the practitioners would speak at the meeting about Falun Dafa, the severe situation of Falun Gong practitioners in China and the persecution they were facing.

At the meeting I saw an eleven year-old boy. I approached him and asked where he came from. He told me he was from Heilongjiang province, and he had come here to rectify the Fa together with his parents (who were farmers). He also told us that he couldn’t attend school, because he didn’t want to give up Falun Gong. He looked so brave; he even told me he was not afraid of being arrested.

Many of these practitioners had remained in Beijing for a long time waiting for a chance to appeal and to say that Falun Dafa is good. Most of them had lost everything and they even had a hard time supporting themselves, but a glow of purity and harmony surrounded them. Some of them hadn’t been able to take a shower for weeks, so fellow practitioners had rented a room and bought some clothes so they would look nice and tidy when the reporters came. This moved my heart.

During the press conference, I had tears in my eyes many times. I looked at these practitioners who had lost everything. They never gave up their belief in Falun Dafa. Even in this evil environment, their first thought was to help more practitioners in Mainland China and overseas wake up and step forward, and to help people all over the world learn the facts of the evil persecution in China. These practitioners had come here from far away just to tell the world about Falun Gong. What a solemn moment to witness.

When the media arrived (seven reporters), we began the conference. Jiang, a practitioner from the south-eastern city of Fuzhou, read our press statement, in which we asked for help from International human rights groups, governments and people of conscience at home and abroad to help stop the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The statement ended with asking the Chinese government to rescind a warrant for the arrest of Master Li Hongzhi, release detained Falun Gong practitioners, clear the name of Falun Gong and allow practitioners to continue their peaceful practice.

Qu, the eleven-year-old boy from Heilongjiang, held a picture of Master Li and said that his teachers didn’t let him attend school because he practised Falun Gong. One practitioner told that us that he was a policeman but lost his job when he didn’t want to give up the practice. He had to choose between the communist party and Falun Gong. Another practitioner, also a policeman, told us he couldn’t just watch silently, he wanted to tell people about the brutal persecution. Ding Yan, a hairdresser from Shijiazhuang city, showed how they had tortured her by handcuffing her wrists, one arm over her shoulder and the other behind her back, when she was detained in Beijing on October 17th. The reporters were also told that practitioners had been tortured to death, what methods were used to torture practitioners, like electric batons, kicking, beating and other methods. In the end practitioners demonstrated the five exercises and the press conference was successfully concluded. We cleaned up and left the place separately.

I stayed two more weeks in China and had a chance to meet more practitioners who had gone to Beijing to appeal. Even if the pressure was hard on them, they gave some more interviews to international media groups. A little girl around five-years-old, whom I met after the press conference left a deep impression on me. Her mother was detained, but she knew what a Dafa practitioner should do. She followed her father to Tiananmen.

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