World

Hundreds of Falun Gong Practitioners Hold Rally and Parade in San Francisco, Commemorating 24 Years of Anti-Persecution Efforts

SAN FRANCISCO—More than 300 Falun Gong practitioners and supporters rallied at Harry Bridges Plaza in San Francisco on July 15, followed by a grand parade through the city, all to commemorate the upcoming date of July 20 which marks 24 years of anti-persecution efforts in China.

On July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its persecution campaign against Falun Gong. The spiritual practice, also known as Falun Dafa, is based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and teaches a set of slow-moving meditative exercises. By 1999, the practice had spread by word of mouth to reach an estimated 70 million to 100 million adherents in mainland China.

The parade headed north along The Embarcadero, passing Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf before ending at Maritime Garden.

Falun Gong parade
Falun Gong practitioners walk along The Embarcadero in San Francisco during a grand parade held on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Just a couple days before, Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.) expressed his concern regarding Meng Zhaohong, mother of one of his constituents Doria Liu, in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Mr. Kiley urged Secretary Blinken to contact authorities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to insist on the release of Ms. Meng.

Ms. Meng was subject to two terms in forced labor camps and one unjust imprisonment, resulting in a total of over eight years of illegal detention.

In his letter Mr. Kiley wrote: “Throughout her captivity, she has reportedly endured electric shocks, beatings, and forced feeding. These inhumane practices have resulted in a broken ring finger on her left hand and permanent disability, rendering her unable to lift her left arm.”

During the rally Ms. Liu said, “This persecution has torn my mother and me apart, leaving us separated for most of our lives. The pain of being apart from our loved ones is unbearable.”

Doria Liu
Doria Liu calls for help to rescue her mother Meng Zhaohong who has endured more than eight years of illegal detention in China for practicing her faith. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

She’s worried about her mother’s safety after Ms. Meng and a fellow practitioner Yuan Xiuhua were arrested again in Qinhuangdao City of China on May 9.

Ms. Liu came to the United States eight years ago and hasn’t seen her mother since. She is now married and has an eight-month-old son.

“When the persecution began in 1999, I was only 10 years old. Now, at the age of 34, I reflect on the 24 long years that have passed,” Ms. Liu said.

Falun Gong practitioner Linda Campbell, a resident of Sonoma County, told NTD, sister media of The Epoch Times, “More and more I find out about the way the persecution in China is actually affecting us here in the United States; it’s coming to our borders now.”

“[The persecution] is something we should know about, care about, because it’s not only a human rights issue, but it’s just notoriously still going on,” Ms. Campbell added.

Wang Longbiao, 32, was among the many undocumented Chinese immigrants flooding into the United States in recent months; he is also a Falun Gong practitioner.

Wang Longbiao
Wang Longbiao (L) looks on as a translator tells his story of escaping persecution in China at a rally in San Francisco on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Wang said he was thrown in a forced labor camp for two years after he and his father started practicing Falun Going again in 2009. Years later, Mr. Wang managed to escape the PRC to Europe, and from there traveled through dozens of countries in South America before finally making it to the United States.

Alameda resident Liu Zhitong also spoke at the rally. She is unable to eat or sleep well, as she constantly worries about her mother Kong Qingping, who was detained in China on Oct. 22, 2022 for practicing her faith Falun Dafa.

“Would she be subject to the brutal persecution suffered by so many? It pains me deeply when I imagine this possibility,” said Ms. Liu Zhitong.

Liu Zhitong
Liu Zhitong worries about her mother’s safety after she was detained in China on Oct. 22, 2022. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Liu Zhitong said her mother was put through a “show trial” on April 10, 2023. Family members were not allowed to be present during the trial. The court has yet to announce a verdict.

Practitioner Kerry Huang told The Epoch Times that the events were held to raise awareness of the 24-year-long persecution against Falun Gong in China. “The persecution has not diminished, on the contrary the brutal persecution is still ongoing today,” she said.

According to the Falun Gong website minghui.org, in the first half of 2023 at least 120 Falun Gong practitioners were killed due to the persecution.

“Because of the censorship of information, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms. Huang added.

women in white
Women dressed in white commemorate people who lost their lives during the persecution of Falun Gong in China in a grand parade held in San Francisco on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

Suzanna Sanchez, who was already aware of the persecution against Falun Gong, told NTD that it’s important to spread the word. “I think it’s critical for people to open up their minds and be more aware.”

“People are sometimes not mindful of the realities, of what’s going on around our immediate world that doesn’t surround us,” said Ms. Sanchez. “It’s really important to be sensitive and compassionate towards all the people as a whole.”

Amrita Dhar, who brought her son to visit the aquarium, was curious when she saw the parade. “I found out this is about Falun Dafa, which is meditation related. What I was horrified to know is that it was banned in China; people were tortured, imprisoned, and apparently their organs were harvested. It’s just shocking to me!”

Ms. Dhar said the parade was very colorful, and she will try to learn more about the practice when she goes home.

Falun Gong exercise
Falun Gong practitioners perform the second exercise before a rally held in San Francisco on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

French tourist Manon Gepuygt said she hadn’t heard about the persecution from other media, and she felt “disturbed” upon learning what was going on in China. She said it is important for more people to learn about it.

Falun Gong exercise
Falun Gong practitioners perform the second exercise before a rally held in San Francisco on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)
grand parade
Falun Gong practitioners walk along The Embarcadero in San Francisco during a grand parade held on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong exercises
Falun Gong practitioners demonstrate exercises during a grand parade held in San Francisco on July 15, 2023. (Lear Zhou/The Epoch Times)

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