Sterling Campbell is a professional drummer. He travels around the world throughout the year for performances, and on his drums, he has printed the Chinese characters of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance", to help more and more people hear the beautiful message.
Sterling has been the drummer for Duran Duran and Soul Asylum. In 1992 he started working with David Bowie, and since 1999 he has been the professional drummer for David Bowie's band, travelling around the world for concert tours. What many people don't know is that Sterling is also a Falun Gong practitioner.
Hitting rock bottom, then having the good fortune to find Falun Gong
During our interview, Sterling emphasized that Falun Gong was a precious gift for him. Seven years ago, Sterling experienced the worst period of his life. At that time, he smoked two packs of cigarettes every day, took drugs and was addicted to alcohol. He felt he had no purpose in life. One day he passed by a park and saw a group of people practicing a gentle exercise which was very attractive, so he started to learn the practice. That gentle and beautiful exercise was Falun Gong.
Sterling said to us with a smile, "It has been seven years, I have quit smoking, no longer take drugs or alcohol, and I am very healthy. But this is not all. Falun Gong has not only brought me great physical health, but what's more important is the change in my spirit. I'm now a happier person. I strongly believe in 'Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance'." On the drum that Sterling uses for his performance, the three Chinese characters of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance" are very clearly printed so that all the people in the crowd can see them.
Going to Tiananmen Square to appeal for an end to the persecution
On July 20th, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) started to persecute Falun Gong. From then on, news of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners kept coming out of China. As the CCP controls the media and broadcasts false news, the large scale brutal persecution and the cruel tortures went unnoticed by the international community. In 2002, Sterling and dozens of other western practitioners went to Tiananmen Square to appeal for an end to the persecution, and hoped to draw the attention of the international community.
Sterling said, "I've travelled to many countries, but this trip to Beijing was very special. We were arrested in Beijing and beaten. Those policemen were still teenagers, and in ignorance they tried to force us to read materials that were fabricated by the CCP. Sometimes they tried to appear to be "nice" by offering us water and food, but just behind their shoulders, a video camera was set up to take footage to show how "nicely" they treated us!"
"Later I got a chance to talk to a policeman about Falun Gong and why the persecution is wrong. The policeman afterwards sent me an SMS message to my mobile phone, telling me that he was very sorry, what they had done was wrong, and that he did not like how his profession had been used for persecuting good people, and how there was not much he could do. I was glad to know that this officer had examined his own conscience and come to understand the truth about the practice."
When asked why he took the risk of going to China, Sterling said, "I was encouraged by Falun Gong practitioners in China. They have bravely stepped forward to appeal fro a stop to the persecution of Falun Gong to people under such a tough situation. As western practitioners, going to Tiananmen was to draw more attention to this."
Sterling said with a sigh, "I was incarcerated for 24 hours, and experienced mental trauma for a day and a night. I was able to endure a day of such torture, but it is indeed hard to imagine what kind of physical and mental tortures that practitioners in China are suffering every day and every moment in prisons, forced labour camps and detention centres!"
When asked if he regrets that trip to Beijing, Sterling said, "I don't. I hope that, in the future, I will still have chances to visit China."
Planting the seeds of truth in people's hearts
After the trip to Beijing, Sterling talked about Falun Gong to his friends and family. He found that some westerners still had misunderstandings about Falun Gong. "We are actually not against the Chinese government. We merely request that practitioners in China have the same right to practise Falun Gong as we do. We also want to bring the criminals who persecute Falun Gong to justice. The persecution of Falun Gong is not an isolated incident; it will eventually affect each of us. In January 2004, the policemen in Paris were misled by the former CCP head Jiang and his criminal group and arrested Falun Gong practitioners for no reason. This is an example. It is damaging the foundation of our democratic system."
While on tour, whenever he arrives at a destination, Sterling often invites Friends of Falun Gong, a non-profit organisation, to hold an information table in the performance hall. He also invites Amnesty International. Sterling said, "I hope to draw people's attention to the persecution of Falun Gong this way. They may not pay close attention at the time, but the seeds are planted in their hearts. Later the seeds will grow, and in the future they will spread the news about the persecution of Falun Gong."
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