The Glorious "April 25" – A Personal Account of the Events of the Day
(Clearwisdom) Editor's note: To commemorate the twelfth anniversary of the April 25 Appeal, Clearwisdom presents this as one of a series of republished articles from years past. The April 25th Appeal was notable not only for its size, but also because it was remarkably peaceful and orderly. Some 10,000 practitioners gathered in central Beijing that day, peacefully protesting for their civil rights. The CCP propaganda machine, however, in its quest to crush Falun Gong at the bidding of then Party Chairman Jiang Zemin, twisted the facts to serve its own motives. To this day, CCP propaganda accuses Falun Gong of "laying siege to the Zhongnanhai Central Government Compound" on April 25, 1999, falsely alleging that the 10,000 gathered posed a violent threat to the nation and its leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as this series of articles documents from various angles.
Looking back on "April 25" on its anniversary, I my heart is still in awe over its majesty. As a participant, every bit of what happened on that day seemed so ordinary and natural at that time. Hardly did I ever imagine that this ordinary day would become the focal point of all the subsequent events in the year that followed, and that it would attract world attention and go down into history.
That morning, after finishing the standing exercises, the assistant at our practice site gave us a detailed briefing on the cause and the current situation of the Tianjin incident. Up until then, the forty or so practitioners illegally detained in Tianjin had not yet been released. We were planning to make an appeal. Then, the assistant emphasized for several times that appealing would be completely voluntary, and the assistance center had no such requirements. Besides, we should treat the Law as our teacher and do what we feel is right. I thought that appealing is a way to communicate with the government directly and reflect the truth about Falun Gong to the government peacefully; hopefully, these efforts would lead to a just resolution through investigation and verification. At that time, the Tianjin incident had already gone into its fifth day, and the Tianjin police had openly beaten and arrested Falun Gong practitioners. The situation was very urgent, and writing petitions for the government to resolve it would not work in the short term-especially after we had continuously done that for the previous few years with no response at all. I also believed that the central government, unlike some local governments, would abide by its constitution and laws. So, along with some other practitioners, off I went to Zhongnanhai.
When the No. 107 trolley bus passed the Beihai Bridge (in downtown Beijing), we noticed more and more people on the sidewalks. Riding to Fuyou Street, we saw the sidewalk on the west was already filled with people. The throng extended eastward to Beihai and westward to Dingzi Intersection. I couldn't help but feel ashamed: we are late! Getting off the bus, we saw some practitioners voluntarily guiding traffic and keeping order, repeating over and over to the pedestrians and bicycle riders: “Please do not stop, please do not stop.” We could tell that many practitioners were from outside Beijing. They were obviously travel-worn from their overnight journey. There were also some farmers from nearby counties doing the sitting meditation by the road. My heart moved at this sight and tears rushed to my eyes: cultivation is truly NOT easy; not only do the cultivators have to overcome the tribulations caused by their own karma, they have to also overcome the various obstructions and difficulties arising from the misunderstandings of everyday people. But it is precisely because of this difficulty that we can attain complete purification and surpass everything in the world. It is also through overcoming this difficulty that the great and mighty implications of cultivation manifest. Thinking of this, I made an effort to calm down and tried to find a place to stand.
There was no space left on Fuyou Street, so we walked towards the east along the Xianmen Street. Along the inner side of the sidewalks, the practitioners stood shoulder to shoulder. They lined up in three or four rows, leaving unoccupied about two thirds of the sidewalks; so throughout the day, a smooth flow of traffic never stopped. We walked in that direction for another one hundred meters, and stopped at an entrance of a unit. The line was broken there (to clear the way for visitors and employees of that company). We saw some room left, so we squeezed in. It was then 8:30a.m.
Everyone stood quietly with a smile and tranquility. There was no chatting, herding, or striking a talk with pedestrians. Some curious passersby would stop to ask what was going on. Their inquiries were answered with our smile and polite requests for not stopping, as it could not be explained in one or two sentences. If one stopped to chat, soon there would be many, then the whole situation would change. We were all very clear that as cultivators, we have no intention of interfering with worldly affairs, since we only want to clear the name of our cultivation, and ask for a legitimate cultivation environment. We are not against the government, nor will we interfere with politics. Even a single ambiguous sentence could be taken advantage of by people with ulterior motives. The situation was so urgent that we could not afford to make any mistakes. A tiny mistake would complicate the situation, make trouble for the Great Law and bring more tribulations for the practitioners.
In a continual stream, more and more people were coming. The line filled Fuyou Street, which goes two kilometers to the north and south. The south end reached Changan Street, and the north end intersected with Xianmen Street, then turned to the east and almost reached Beihai. Looking towards the west, we couldn't see the end of the line either. However, except for the police and guards, there were no practitioners on the sidewalk right next to the wall of Zhongnanhai.
Some practitioners told me that Premier Zhu Rongji had come out at 9:45a.m. and personally invited a few practitioners as representatives to go in and have a discussion. A group of representatives came out and another group went in. An hour passed and then another hour. Everyone waited quietly, no irritation, no uneasiness, no complains and no slackness. There was only the mutual caring, understanding, encouragement and reminding. Looking around, our lines were neat and clean.
When the practitioners on the front row stood for too long, the practitioners at the back would voluntarily ask to swap positions so that the practitioners at the front could relax for a while. For elders, they could sit at the back to take some rest. Behind us were some short iron fences separating the grass from the road. We all sat on the ground instead of on the fences to avoid causing damage to public property. Some practitioners stayed at the front from the beginning to the end without exchanging position. When it was mealtime, the practitioners took turns to buy food so that the line would stay neat and clean. West of Fuyou Street consists of alleys for city dwellers. There are public washrooms every several hundred meters. When too many people had the need to use the washrooms, they waited in queues without congestion or quarrel. After eating, everyone took care to put the garbage into plastic bags. Moreover, there was a practitioner collecting garbage from time to time, walking along the road with a plastic bag. As a result, the road was clean from the beginning to the end.
Other practitioners told me the narrow Fuyou Street had many practitioners. They stood extremely tight, with over a hundred people between two trees. If anyone moved his feet slightly, he would no longer be able to come back in. Therefore, the practitioners there stood from early morning to the night (some practitioners from outside Beijing came as early as 4 o'clock that morning), with no food or water. They could not use the washroom either. Among them was a 3-year-old child quietly standing by his mother, also for over ten hours.
People cannot help but marvel: What a special group these people are! They stood there in clean and tidy dress, with a ready smile, nothing in hand, and strangers to each other. The young fellow next to me came from Shijiazhuang. He wore a suit and a tie, standing there with ease and patience. In everyday people's minds, people coming to appeal must be someone in rags, who are grumpy, most likely depressed, exhausted, and with a spouse and kids tugging behind. Yet, we Falun Dafa practitioners are quite different. Although we are cultivating among everyday people today--in a way consistent with their formalities--our action holds totally different implications. There, the profound implications of Truth-Benevolence-Forbearance filled up Zhongnanhai for the whole "April 25" event, which brought changes to everything around. Gradually, the police became less vigilant, starting to chat or take a nap in their vehicles. The garbage collectors pulled the cart over along the road helping us to put the garbage into the cart. Our tranquility brought serenity everywhere.
After 10 p.m., the news was passed down from the front that the last batch of representatives had come out with the arrested practitioners in Tianjin having been released and the problems resolved properly. So we were all ready to go home happily. We immediately cleaned up the place, bagging all the trash and putting them besides the garbage can. Some went home by bike; some made their way to the railway station. The public transportation service was very cooperative that day. They quickly dispatched many buses and arranged people to get onto them. We stood at the end of the line so that the practitioners living further away could go first. Every bus was full, since all the practitioners tried to stand tight together so that more practitioners could come aboard. Within about half an hour, all the practitioners were gone. When I looked around, I saw the road empty and very clean--as if there had never been that many people.
The next day when I went to the park to do the exercises, I heard a tourist saying nearby: see how great these Falun Gong practitioners are, and how sensible the government is--the problems have all been resolved. Later, the TV stations broadcast the public notice that doing exercises had never been prohibited and everyone was free to practice. Everything quickly went back to normal: we continued with our collective practice and study, and went out to spread the virtuous teachings over the weekends.
One year has passed in a twinkling. Since then, the world has witnessed many earthshaking events. During the course of the time, righteousness and wickedness, good and evil all manifested together in the world. It doesn't matter how some people tried to defame Falun Gong; it doesn't matter how people appraise it; and it doesn't matter how the practitioners might have different understandings about it: the day of "April 25, 1999", will go down in history. On this day, over ten thousand Chinese Falun Dafa practitioners went to Zhongnanhai to present peacefully a petition to the government, requesting a legal status for Falun Dafa in China, as well as an elimination of the misunderstanding and a peaceful redress of the problems. Their sincerity and compassion became part of the great tolerant act that forever defines "April 25." At present or in the future, no matter at what moment in history, or in which dimension of the universe, looking afar at "April 25," it will forever stand there tall and upright, shining with boundless radiance.
April 20, 2000
Category: Personal Accounts of Early Days