Bay Area Falun Dafa Practitioners Commemorate Victims of 23-Year Persecution

SAN FRANCISCO—Over 300 people paraded from San Francisco’s Ferry Building to Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square on July 16 to mark the 23rd year of persecution against Falun Gong in China.Sandy Wang has practiced Falun Gong (a Chinese meditation practice also known as Falun Dafa) since 1994. She was among the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been illegally arrested and tortured by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for their beliefs. “At the police station, they would force me to sign [a pledge to renounce my faith],” Wang told NTD Television. “They would force my hand open, but I made a fist because I won’t sign. They bent my thumb until it dislocated and couldn’t sign anymore.” Sandy Wang speaks to NTD Television during the rally in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times) Wang said she went out in public in China to tell people that Falun Gong was being unjustly persecuted, but she was arrested and sent to jail. After that, she was in and out of jail. “During that time, I was forced to do labor work. I had to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and work until 11 or 12 at night. It [was] common to work overtime. If we [didn’t] work overtime, we [could] sleep before 11 p.m.,” she said. Besides physical torture, she said she was mentally tortured, or brainwashed, so that she would not be able to have any of her own thoughts. Wang said they constantly played propaganda through a speaker. She said the persecution affected those close to her too. One time she was arrested during the New Year, a time when family members gather for a big celebration. “My whole family—my brothers and sisters were celebrating at my house—found out I suddenly disappeared. So it was not a joyous celebration. They were all looking for me,” she said. People hold flower wreaths with photos of Falun Gong practitioners who were persecuted to death by the Chinese Communist Party in China, during a parade in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times) Falun Gong includes five meditative exercises as well as moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was first taught in public in 1992 and within a few years was practiced by an estimated tens of millions of people throughout China. Wang said she chooses to continue practicing it because it has brought her many benefits. Before she started practicing, she was already divorced with a young child, and her life had lost its meaning. But after she took up Falun Gong, she found a purpose and life no longer felt tiring. “In everyday life, I think of others first,” Wang said. “The daily routine at home is still the same, but I no longer feel tired or miserable.” Wang, an engineer, recalled a time when she went to the bank for 80,000 yuan (about $12,000) but the bank made a mistake and gave her another 80,000 yuan, so she had a total of 160,000 yuan. “At the time, I didn’t even check and just left. When I finally checked, I immediately returned the amount. The bank was very grateful,” she said. But in 1999, the CCP illegally banned Falun Gong in China. Those who do not choose to renounce their faith are often beaten, brainwashed, jailed, or killed. Strong evidence has indicated that some are killed through organ harvesting, a process in which their vital organs are removed while they are still alive. People hold an anti-organ-harvesting banner during a parade in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (David Lam/The Epoch Times) “We’ve never seen anything like this before in the history of the world,” Alejandro Centurion, a member of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, told NTD Television. “This is something so horrific. It’s taking organs for profit; it’s part of a medical genocide.” In recent years, medical organizations in countries such as Canada and England have encouraged their governments to pass legislation condemning the CCP’s forced organ harvesting. England passed an amendment in May prohibiting commercial organ tourism outside the United Kingdom. Lawmakers in the United States are attempting to pass similar laws. A U.S. Senate Bill condemning live forced organ harvesting, titled Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2021, was introduced to Congress last year. Centurion explained that if it gets passed, doctors involved in the crime will be banned from traveling freely to the United States. Many pedestrians stopped to watch the parade. Some expressed a wish that the issue of the persecution had more news coverage and visibility. Practitioners demonstrate one of the Falun Gong exercises in a parade passing through Chinatown in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times) “I don’t believe mainstream media reports on something that, to me, is a crisis. Organ harvesting, for example,” Bob Spurlock, a retired police officer, told NTD Television. “Our media, mainstream media, social media, does not want to end the CCP. That’s the bottom line, and it’s all money

Bay Area Falun Dafa Practitioners Commemorate Victims of 23-Year Persecution

SAN FRANCISCO—Over 300 people paraded from San Francisco’s Ferry Building to Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square on July 16 to mark the 23rd year of persecution against Falun Gong in China.

Sandy Wang has practiced Falun Gong (a Chinese meditation practice also known as Falun Dafa) since 1994. She was among the hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners who have been illegally arrested and tortured by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for their beliefs.

“At the police station, they would force me to sign [a pledge to renounce my faith],” Wang told NTD Television. “They would force my hand open, but I made a fist because I won’t sign. They bent my thumb until it dislocated and couldn’t sign anymore.”

Epoch Times Photo
Sandy Wang speaks to NTD Television during the rally in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times)

Wang said she went out in public in China to tell people that Falun Gong was being unjustly persecuted, but she was arrested and sent to jail. After that, she was in and out of jail.

“During that time, I was forced to do labor work. I had to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning and work until 11 or 12 at night. It [was] common to work overtime. If we [didn’t] work overtime, we [could] sleep before 11 p.m.,” she said.

Besides physical torture, she said she was mentally tortured, or brainwashed, so that she would not be able to have any of her own thoughts. Wang said they constantly played propaganda through a speaker.

She said the persecution affected those close to her too. One time she was arrested during the New Year, a time when family members gather for a big celebration.

“My whole family—my brothers and sisters were celebrating at my house—found out I suddenly disappeared. So it was not a joyous celebration. They were all looking for me,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
People hold flower wreaths with photos of Falun Gong practitioners who were persecuted to death by the Chinese Communist Party in China, during a parade in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong includes five meditative exercises as well as moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It was first taught in public in 1992 and within a few years was practiced by an estimated tens of millions of people throughout China.

Wang said she chooses to continue practicing it because it has brought her many benefits. Before she started practicing, she was already divorced with a young child, and her life had lost its meaning. But after she took up Falun Gong, she found a purpose and life no longer felt tiring.

“In everyday life, I think of others first,” Wang said. “The daily routine at home is still the same, but I no longer feel tired or miserable.”

Wang, an engineer, recalled a time when she went to the bank for 80,000 yuan (about $12,000) but the bank made a mistake and gave her another 80,000 yuan, so she had a total of 160,000 yuan.

“At the time, I didn’t even check and just left. When I finally checked, I immediately returned the amount. The bank was very grateful,” she said.

But in 1999, the CCP illegally banned Falun Gong in China. Those who do not choose to renounce their faith are often beaten, brainwashed, jailed, or killed. Strong evidence has indicated that some are killed through organ harvesting, a process in which their vital organs are removed while they are still alive.

Epoch Times Photo
People hold an anti-organ-harvesting banner during a parade in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)

“We’ve never seen anything like this before in the history of the world,” Alejandro Centurion, a member of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting, told NTD Television. “This is something so horrific. It’s taking organs for profit; it’s part of a medical genocide.”

In recent years, medical organizations in countries such as Canada and England have encouraged their governments to pass legislation condemning the CCP’s forced organ harvesting. England passed an amendment in May prohibiting commercial organ tourism outside the United Kingdom.

Lawmakers in the United States are attempting to pass similar laws. A U.S. Senate Bill condemning live forced organ harvesting, titled Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2021, was introduced to Congress last year. Centurion explained that if it gets passed, doctors involved in the crime will be banned from traveling freely to the United States.

Many pedestrians stopped to watch the parade. Some expressed a wish that the issue of the persecution had more news coverage and visibility.

Epoch Times Photo
Practitioners demonstrate one of the Falun Gong exercises in a parade passing through Chinatown in San Francisco on July 16, 2022. (Cynthia Cai/The Epoch Times)

“I don’t believe mainstream media reports on something that, to me, is a crisis. Organ harvesting, for example,” Bob Spurlock, a retired police officer, told NTD Television. “Our media, mainstream media, social media, does not want to end the CCP. That’s the bottom line, and it’s all money.”

“You’ll see people passing out the fliers and people really not paying attention,” Anita Whites, a San Francisco resident, told NTD Television. “I hope the next generation doesn’t fall for misinformation and really does its research and understand[s] what’s going on in the world.”

Some people were unaware of the atrocities taking place in China but agree that it’s a universal human rights issue.

“It is very shocking,” Gabriel Tapia, a tourist from Mexico, told NTD Television. “I think these kinds of movements have to be made more often so we make [people] conscious.”

Jorge Triana, a tourist from Columbia, said he wishes the situation in China would get better. He said he didn’t know there were people from China here in this country fighting communism.

“People still believe that socialist, communist is the good way to go, because they have free education and they have free things, which doesn’t exist,” Triana told NTD Television. “There is no free anything. People pay for that.”

Falun Gong practitioners held a candlelight vigil the following day in front of the Chinese Consulate to remember those who lost their lives to the CCP’s persecution.


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Ilene is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Northern California news.


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Cynthia is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Northern California news.