On April 25, 2018, a Wall of Courage was constructed across the Princes Bridge in Melbourne, Australia. In doing so, the participants remembered the Chinese Falun Gong practitioners who protested in Beijing on that day in 1999. Elsewhere across the globe, people participated in similar rallies to remember this act of courage.
On April 25, 1999, over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners bravely stood in protest on Fuyou Street in front of the Appeals Office in Beijing. They appealed for the release of 45 Falun Gong practitioners being held in detention and the correction of a false magazine article. Many who stood on Fuyou Street that day knew the danger of their appeal and the potential reaction by the communist government.
Practitioners came from the countryside and locally. Many arrived before 7 a.m. looking for the Appeals Office because no one knew exactly where it was. The police told them to stand at the gateway to the Zhongnanhai building on Fuyou Street. No one disrupted people working and living in the area, no banners were held, and no one shouted. They didn’t even eat because that would cause a disruption. They simply stood in silence and waited. If anyone spoke to them, they would be ignored, even foreign news reporters.
What did the practitioners want?
The Falun Gong practitioners wanted to communicate with Tianjin University about a magazine article that defamed their practice. The University was going to issue a correction, but changed their minds. The practitioners arrived at Tianjin University to express their concerns, but the police soon arrived and told them to leave.
The practitioners who went to Tianjin University went to speak up for something good, Falun Gong. Despite this, the police at the university took 45 practitioners away and told the remaining ones to go to the Appeals Office in Beijing, as the matter was not a local issue anymore. The orders had come from the Ministry of Public Security.
On April 25, the Falun Gong practitioners continued to wait patiently outside the Appeals Office when China’s State Council, Zhu Rongji, emerged from the building at 9 a.m. The practitioners greeted Zhu Rongji with applause and one, acting as spokesperson, followed him inside.
After a while, a notice was sent out to the practitioners that read that their concerns were noted, but nothing was mentioned about the release of the 45 arrested practitioners. The practitioners stayed and waited calmly.
The Communist Party’s Chairman of the time, Jiang Zemin, drove by a few times in a black limousine and stared at the practitioners grimly. The practitioners were not moved by his presence and kept their composure. At 9 p.m., the spokesperson came out of the building and told the gathered crowd that the 45 practitioners would be released. The practitioners cleaned up the area and left quietly.
This is an important act of bravery by the practitioners as they all came together with the courage to appeal a decision by the Chinese Communist Party. The massacre of students at Tiananmen Square in 1989 is an example of a cruel response that could have been repeated on April 25, 1999.
A few months later in July 1999, a ban on the practice of Falun Gong was issued by the Chinese Communist Party with no valid reason. The government soon began to arrest practitioners in an attempt to stop them from practicing. Still, many practitioners continued to practice in spite of the crackdown.
Practitioners who were arrested were submitted to unfair, or no, trials and imprisoned in jails, labor camps, or mental institutions, where they were put through an inhumane brainwashing program, tortured, or killed for their organs. Surviving practitioners have since spoken up about their treatment. Their experiences read like a nightmare, but their stories were investigated and found to be true.
More in-depth information on the events of April 25, 1999 can be found at Minghui.org and through a book entitled The Slaughter by Ethan Gutmann.
In Melbourne, Australia on April 25, 2018, we stood on the Princes Bridge forming a wall like the one made by Falun Gong practitioners on April 25, 1999. The banners that we held informed people of our cause. We come from all walks of life and different cultures, and most of us are Falun Gong practitioners. We talked to passes by about the events on April 25, 1999, human rights in China, the practice of Falun Gong, and the crimes committed by the Chinese Communist Party.
In the evening, a candlelight vigil was held to remember and meditate on the innocent practitioners who died holding onto their beliefs of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance.
The candlelight vigil began at 6.30 p.m. when practitioners meditated on the hour for 15 minutes until 8.30 p.m. Between the 15 minute meditation times, they sat quietly holding a candle.
Passers-by were grateful to be informed by the peaceful display. They learned of the beautiful practice, Falun Gong, and the Chinese communist government’s wrongful ban. Onlookers were touched by the candlelight vigil for the individuals who died because of their beliefs.