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Los Angeles Vigil Mourns Those Killed in China’s Persecution of Falun Gong

Los Angeles Vigil Mourns Those Killed in China’s Persecution of Falun Gong

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

7/21/2023

Updated: 7/21/2023

Over 200 followers of the spiritual practice Falun Gong gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18 for a candlelight vigil to mourn fellow practitioners who had endured brutal persecution in China that has been ongoing for 24 years.
Wearing yellow shirts printed with “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance”—the core principles of the spiritual practice—attendees peacefully sat in rows, holding candles and portraits of those who lost their lives under the Chinese communist regime.
The vigil, two days prior to the July 20 persecution commemoration, marked 24 years since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched its nationwide persecution of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa.
“Looking back at the past 24 years, it feels like the blink of an eye,” said Li Youfu, president of the U.S. Southwest Falun Dafa Association, at the event. “Over the years, the practitioners of Falun Dafa never fear the evil persecution, always persevering in their faith in ’truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance' and sharing the beauty of the practice with the world.”
Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

By 1999, 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 the society, according to New York-based nonprofit Falun Dafa Information Center.
Millions of followers have been incarcerated in prisons, detention centers, labor camps, and various other facilities throughout the country since July 1999. Within these confines, they reportedly endure 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 started. However, the number is likely significantly higher, given the difficulty in verifying information in China.
“The madness of the CCP has become a laughingstock; meanwhile, it has led many kind-hearted people around the world to … break away from the CCP and oppose the persecution,” Mr. Li said.
Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong adherents hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate to mark 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Rescuing Family Members

Countless Falun Gong practitioners have their families torn apart because of the persecution.
One of the speakers at the rally, Lei Yingqun, a local resident, said her family was targeted after her husband and she refused to give up the practice.
“I was once illegally sentenced to four years and was tortured in prison, through forced labor, sleep deprivation, standing for long periods, and electric shocks,” she said. “My husband was subjected to hanging by his wrists, violent beatings. When he fainted, they would wake him up with cold water and continue the torture.”
Lei Yingqun, a local Falun Gong practitioner, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Lei Yingqun, a local Falun Gong practitioner, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

She and her husband almost died in prison, she said, and her non-practicing younger brother suffered from depression and later died—after being abducted by the CCP twice because of Ms. Lei’s faith.
Another speaker, Kang Shuzhi, of Rowland Heights, called for the immediate release of her three family members who have been residing in mainland China but are currently detained by the communist regime.
Earlier in April, her nephew was arrested by the police in Taiyuan, a city in Northern China, for practicing Falun Gong. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison, Ms. Kang said.
Her sister and another nephew were also arrested last year. Ms. Kang said another family member told her they were taken by the police to detention centers. Their apartment was ransacked by officers, and their vehicle, computer, and printer, among other personal properties, were confiscated.
Kang Shuzhi holding a banner calling for the rescue of her relatives arrested by police in China at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Kang Shuzhi holding a banner calling for the rescue of her relatives arrested by police in China at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Support From General Public

Several other community leaders and human rights advocates also spoke at the vigil in support.
Among them was Zheng Cunzhu, vice chairman of the United Headquarters of the China Democratic Party, who paid tribute to the practitioners’ effort in raising awareness.
“Over the past 24 years of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party, instead of surrendering, more and more Falun Gong practitioners courageously stand up to expose the evil nature of the party,” Mr. Zheng said. “This has led to more Chinese people awakening to the truth and permanently cutting their ties with the wicked party,” he said.
Zheng Cunzhu, vice chairman of the United Headquarters of the China Democratic Party, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Zheng Cunzhu, vice chairman of the United Headquarters of the China Democratic Party, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Jie Lijian, executive director of the Youth Department of the Chinese Democratic Party, said that his heart aches deeply every time he sees the portraits of countless victims who lost their lives due to the persecution.
“It’s unimaginable how much inhumane torture and abuse these innocent Falun Gong practitioners endured before they died,” he said.
The persecution, Mr. Jie said, is one of the largest human rights violations in the history of humanity and has left indelible harm to countless people.
“In the photos, the practitioners wear smiles on their faces. Each of them was a vibrant life that the CCP shattered, leading to families destroyed by separations and deaths.”
Jie Lijian, executive director of the Youth Department of the Chinese Democratic Party, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

Jie Lijian, executive director of the Youth Department of the Chinese Democratic Party, speaks at a candlelight vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on July 18, 2023. (Alex Lee/The Epoch Times)

More and more young Chinese citizens are coming out to show support for the cause.
An international student from Shanghai, China, Zhang Junjie, said that upon hearing that Falun Gong practitioners were going to hold a rally, he readily decided to attend.
“Just imagine, if a society lacking faith and morality, where people scheme against each other for power and personal gain, and where differing positions and perspectives lead to life-and-death struggles, such a world would be incredibly frightening,” he said.
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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