Despite recent bouts of rain and grey skies, Saturday 26th April was beautifully sunny. UK Falun Gong practitioners held a parade through central London to commemorate April 25th. During the parade, some practitioners handed out leaflets to passers-by that told them what Falun Gong is and why the Chinese Communist Party is persecuting such a peaceful and beneficial practice.
The parade began at the Chinese Embassy and moved down through many of central London's main tourist areas, lasting over an hour. The parade was headed by banners introducing Falun Gong, reading "Falun Gong" and "The World Needs Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance". These banners were followed by a team of practitioners who were playing traditional Chinese waist drums. Although these drums are not part of Falun Gong practice, they – like Falun Gong and self cultivation – are rooted deeply in Chinese culture. Many people who saw the parade enjoyed the display as the drum sounds resonated off London's tall and grand architecture.
Another section of the parade exposed the persecution that Falun Gong practitioners have suffered for the last nine years. April 25th is a date that Falun Gong practitioners commemorate every year. Nine years ago, on April 25th 1999, in order to appeal for justice for Falun Gong, around 10,000 practitioners went to peacefully appeal and clarify the facts to the Chinese government in Beijing. Unjust persecution against Falun Gong was already taking place and they requested the government to stop the unfair treatment of practitioners by those who had ulterior motives.
Banners in the persecution section of the parade revealed that Falun Gong practitioners are being tortured in China. This section also had a group of practitioners dressed in white carrying placards with pictures of people who have lost their life at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party because they refused to give up their belief in Falun Gong. The pictures were surrounded by rings of commemorative flowers.
The parade finished in Trafalgar Square. Practitioners lined up the banners for the crowds of tourists and then a press conference began. The speakers included Chairman of the European and UK Falun Dafa Associations Peter Jauhal, Vice-Chairman of the non-governmental organisation Friends of Falun Gong John Dee, and Annie Yang, a Falun gong practitioner who was subjected to torture, wrongful imprisonment and other types of persecution in China before escaping to England. Annie talked about the human rights abuses that she suffered at the hands of the communist regime in China and listeners were touched by her suffering.
Many people took leaflets and signed petitions calling for an end to the human rights atrocities against Falun Gong practitioners. After the speeches, the practitioners demonstrated the five sets of Falun Gong exercises and many people took pictures or shot videos on their cameras and phones. The splendid sunshine lasted the whole day and many people got the chance to learn more about Falun Gong and make their voice heard in calling for an end to the persecution against the practice.
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