Candlelight Vigil in Los Angeles Marks 25 Years Since 10,000-Person Appeal in China

Candlelight Vigil in Los Angeles Marks 25 Years Since 10,000-Person Appeal in China

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

4/26/2024

Updated: 4/26/2024

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Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles April 21 for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who have faced severe persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The event also marked the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China.
Attendees wore yellow shirts featuring the words “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance,” the core principles of the spiritual practice, and peacefully sat in rows holding candles and portraits of individuals who lost their lives under the Chinese communist regime.
Li Youfu, president of the U.S. Southwest Falun Dafa Association, said the demonstration in China 25 years ago had a profound impact, showcasing the peaceful demeanor of Falun Gong practitioners.
On April 25, 1999, 10,000 people gathered silently in Beijing, China’s capitol, marking the largest protest in recent history under communist rule in China.

Eyewitness Accounts

Li Shuying from Beijing spoke at the candlelight vigil, recounting her firsthand experience of the peaceful appeal.
On April 24, 1999, after finishing her Falun Gong exercises in the park, Ms. Li learned about the CCP’s defamation and attacks against the practice and the unlawful detention of 45 practitioners from Tianjin, a city near Beijing.
Upon hearing the news, she and her fellow practitioners were deciding whether to go to Beijing to appeal, she said.
“At that moment, I decided I must go,” she told The Epoch Times.
The next day at the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, where citizens can file public complaints, she found the streets lined with Falun Gong practitioners from different regions.
Although they were strangers to each other, they all shared the same beliefs, she said.
“No one chanted slogans or held up any banners, and there was no loud noise. Everything was calm and peaceful,” Ms. Li said.
She recalled that thousands of people stood quietly throughout the day until evening. When officials told the group the detained practitioners would be released, everyone dispersed quickly. As they left, the ground was left very clean, with even the cigarette butts discarded by the police picked up.
Several months after the appeal, the CCP abruptly launched its nationwide persecution of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, on July 20. At the time, the practice had drawn an estimated 70 million to 100 million adherents in mainland China, and its popularity was perceived by the CCP as a threat to its authoritarian control over society, according to New York-based nonprofit Falun Dafa Information Center.
Since July 1999, millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in prisons, detention centers, labor camps, and other facilities across the country. Inside these facilities, they reportedly face torture, forced labor, indoctrination, and even forced organ harvesting.
According to the Information Center, there have been over 4,900 documented cases of Falun Gong practitioners who lost their lives due to torture and abuse while in police custody since the persecution began. However, the actual number is likely much higher, given the challenges of verifying information in China.
Falun Gong practitioner Li Shuying attends a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioner Li Shuying attends a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Atrocity Continues

The persecution has continued for over two decades and persists to this day, leaving many overseas practitioners deeply concerned about the safety of their family members in mainland China.
At the gathering, Karen Kang, a Falun Gong practitioner from Rowland Heights, recounted the ordeal of her nephew, Hou Lijun.
Last year, on April 25, Mr. Hou was arrested by the police in Taiyuan, a city in Northern China, for practicing Falun Gong. During his detention of one year, Mr. Hou endured brutal torture in the detention center, including force-feeding, sleep deprivation, assault, and attempts to make him renounce his beliefs.
Ms. Kang’s sister and another nephew were also arrested last year for practicing Falun Gong. They have been detained for nearly a year and a half, and the Chinese Communist Party has consistently denied their family the right to visit them, she said.
Zheng Cunzhu, a Los Angeles democracy activist and chairman of the Chinese Democratic Party, attends a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Zheng Cunzhu, a Los Angeles democracy activist and chairman of the Chinese Democratic Party, attends a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Call for an End to the Persecution

Chen Weiming, the director of California’s Liberty Sculpture Park and a sculptor, specifically brought several park volunteers to the scene to show support for the Falun Gong practitioners.
“The peaceful appeal by Falun Gong practitioners shocked the world with their actions. Their courage, steadfast commitment to truth, kindness, and fearless endurance resonated in China, around the globe, and particularly rattled the Chinese Communist Party,” he said during the vigil.
Many other Chinese residents also attended the event to show their support.
Zheng Cunzhu, a Los Angeles democracy activist and chairman of the Chinese Democratic Party, told reporters, “The peaceful appeal was a large-scale event where people spontaneously sought to uphold their basic civil rights and protect their right to practice. It was completely legal.”
Mr. Zheng said that the unwavering belief of Falun Gong practitioners has deeply moved him.
“Falun Gong practitioners have persevered for 25 years, whether through peaceful meditation, reaching out to Chinese communities, or exposing the evil nature of the Communist Party in mainland China, all because they have a steadfast belief,” he said.
Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on April 21, 2024. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark the 25th anniversary of a peaceful appeal by 10,000 people in China in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Linda Jiang/The Epoch Times)

Quitting the CCP

Helen Li, the head of the Quit CCP Center in Los Angeles, said that in 1999, the CCP falsely portrayed the peaceful appeal as a “siege on Zhongnanhai”—the compound for the top CCP leadership—escalating it into a political event and using it as a pretext to begin the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. However, when they learned the truth, people around the world witnessed the peacefulness of Falun Gong practitioners and saw through the evil nature of the CCP.
“More and more Chinese people are recognizing the evil nature of the CCP and are choosing to withdraw from the Party, Youth League, and Young Pioneers organizations they once joined,” she said.
According to statistics from the Global Service Center for Quitting the CCP, over 429 million people have renounced their affiliation with the CCP, also known as the “three withdrawals.”
Additionally, Ms. Li added that due to the CCP hiding information about the pandemic and more of its inhumane crimes being exposed, “the global outcry against the CCP is growing louder.” As of today, nearly 4.25 million people have signed a global petition website to end the CCP.
Linda Jiang contributed to this report.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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