United Kingdom: Parade and Candlelight Vigil Commemorate Ten Years of Persecution

On Saturday 18 July, Falun Gong practitioners in the United Kingdom held a parade through central London to commemorate ten years of persecution against Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The parade began at the Chinese Embassy where Falun Gong practitioners have protested 24 hours a day every day for over 6 years. Since the persecution against Falun Gong was officially launched on July 20 1999, the London Chinese Embassy has seen many protests by Falun Gong practitioners travelling from throughout the British Isles to call for an end to the CCP's human rights abuses against their fellow practitioners in China.

Before the parade began, Mr Halu, a London practitioner who originated from the Czech Republic talked to a reporter about his reasons for attending the event. He said that his home country was once ruled by the Communist Party and people were oppressed and persecuted, similar to how Chinese people are today. Mr Halu talked about the joys of the Czech people when their country broke free of its Communist oppressor and moved towards democracy. "I hope China can also soon see the demise of the Communist Party so that the Chinese people can be free and human rights atrocities against Falun Gong practitioners can come to a permanent end."

The parade passed through central London, including Chinatown and Leicester Square

The parade saw a mixture of banners and placards with messages such as "10 years of torture and killing: the persecution of Falun Gong must stop" and "Justice for 80 million killed by the Chinese Communist Party". Ladies dressed in white carried placards featuring pictures of female Falun Gong practitioners who have lost their life in the persecution in China. One such practitioner was Gao Rongrong, whose face was badly disfigured with electric batons because she refused to give up her faith in Falun Gong and the practice's tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance. The faces of the Falun Gong practitioners in London were solemn and respectful as they commemorated over 3,000 people who have lost their lives for practising the same peaceful exercises that they practise freely in London every day.

As well as commemorating ten years of persecution, the parade highlighted that over 57 million people have quit the Chinese Communist Party and its affiliated organisations and that the CCP's imminent demise is inevitable. As the parade passed through Chinatown, the area fell quiet as people read the banners and reflected on their messages. Flyers were distributed in both Chinese and English and many people were glad to receive them.

The parade continued through the famous and crowded tourist attraction Leicester Square, where a megaphone was used to inform people of the purpose of the parade and help them to stand on the side of justice. One man joined in the chants of "Chinese Communist Party, shame on you" before putting his thumbs up and smiling at the passing practitioners in recognition of their efforts to raise awareness about the CCP's crimes against humanity.

The parade finished in St Martin's Square

The parade finished in St Martin's Square where information stalls were set up so that people could find out more. Many people took photos of the assembled parade formation and their banners. Strong winds were unable to stop the messages of freedom and hope that the banners contained.

Candlelight vigil to commemorate Falun Gong practitioners who lost their lives in the CCP's persecution

In the evening, a candlelight vigil was held at the Chinese Embassy. Practitioners did the Falun Gong exercises and sent forth righteous thoughts. Candles were lit in remembrance of their fellow practitioners in China who have been killed simply for refusing to give up their beliefs in Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance. In July 1999, when jealousy and paranoia swept the CCP leaders to to publicly state their goal of "eradicating Falun Gong in three months", many Chinese people said that Falun Gong practitioners trying to resist the might of the evil regime – with its state-controlled media, propaganda organs, special agents, military, forced labour camps, draconian torture methods and over half a century of experience in persecuting innocent people – was like smashing an egg against a rock. Though the Chinese Communist Party has continued its crimes against Falun Gong for ten years, people at the vigil could feel that the CCP's attempts to use lies, torture and killing to destroy Falun Gong practitioners' spiritual beliefs and try to shake their faith is the real smashing of an egg against a rock.

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