Hundreds of Falun Gong Adherents Rally in Toronto, Condemning CCP’s 25 Years of Repression

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners assembled on the grounds of the Ontario legislature on April 20 to mark the 25th anniversary of China’s suppression of a peaceful protest in Beijing. The April 25, 1999, protest was a pivotal precursor to an unprecedented human rights crisis.Adherents of the spiritual practice, also called Falun Dafa, fell victim to a disinformation and defamation campaign orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the late 1990s. It’s widely believed that then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin ordered the campaign because he felt threatened that there were more people practising Falun Gong than there were members of the Party. He also viewed Falun Gong’s moral teachings as being in conflict with the communist ideology of atheism.In 1999, after 45 Falun Gong practitioners were arbitrarily detained, some 10,000 adherents convened at Beijing’s National Appeals Office to petition for their constitutionally protected right to belief. But the CCP escalated its persecution in response. It officially launched a nationwide violent suppression of Falun Gong three months later, in July 1999.Lawmakers and rights defenders worldwide have condemned the CCP’s use of torture, sexual abuse, and the egregious practice of organ harvesting against Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. In particular, Canadian international human rights lawyer David Matas has described the persecution of Falun Gong as a prolonged “cold genocide.”Hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gather at the Ontario legislative building in Toronto on April 20, 2024. The rally was held to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)Speaking at the rally, Jose Peralta, who immigrated to Canada from Argentina four years ago, said that upon learning about the April 25, 1999, incident, “I just couldn’t believe what happened, because the only thing these practitioners wanted was to practise in peace and become better people without being harassed and persecuted.”“Around 10,000 people, self-motivated, gathered there peacefully and quietly, and stood there for hours to get an answer. They even cleaned up everything [before] they left without blocking any road that [would] impede transit,” he said.Related Stories“In a world where protests today are full of anger, hate, looting, blocking bridges or avenues, and disturbing order in society, [Falun Gong] practitioners did just the opposite. They sat down, [or] stood on the sidewalk in silence. I thought that was beautiful, and so inspiring.”“It was a great demonstration of what Falun Gong practitioners’ characteristic is like, which was completely opposite to the lies the CCP was presenting at that time and [continues to do],” he added.Mr. Peralta said he took up the practice of Falun Gong five years ago. Referring to the people who took part in the April 25, 1999, petition in Beijing, he said, “I don’t think that they were aware at that time that they would inspire millions in the future, even to this day—even me, a person who was born on the opposite side of the world.”CCP ‘Going Towards Its Destruction’Michael Stainton, president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, commended Falun Gong practitioners for their perseverance in peacefully resisting the CCP’s repression, noting its impact on both practitioners and the wider Chinese population.“In its desperation to preserve its power, in its desperate fear of any organization that is not controlled by the Communist Party, the Communist Party effectively destroyed the basis of its own rule and is going towards the destruction of its own role in China,” Mr. Stainton said.“They organized a mass persecution that had no basis in law. ... People don’t believe what’s happening in China because it’s so shocking and so terrible,” he added.He noted that the CCP created an extrajudicial body specifically tasked with directing the persecution of Falun Gong—so-called the “610 Office” as it was established on June 10, 1999.“Surely, no rational government would do this. And yet, this is not a rational government. The Communist Party, in fact, is not a government at all.”Michael Stainton (L), president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, addresses hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gathered at a rally on the grounds of the Ontario legislature to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice, in Toronto on April 20, 2024. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)Mr. Stainton pointed out that the regime was aware many communist officials, military personnel, and police officers were secretly practising Falun Gong, and thus implemented “a reign of terror that affected all of the Chinese people.” This persecution included setting up “kangaroo courts” and multiple prisons to intimidate both Falun Gong adherents and their own cadre.Additionally, the CCP made it illegal for lawyers to defend Falun Gong adherents, Mr. Stainton said. He noted tha

Hundreds of Falun Gong Adherents Rally in Toronto, Condemning CCP’s 25 Years of Repression

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Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners assembled on the grounds of the Ontario legislature on April 20 to mark the 25th anniversary of China’s suppression of a peaceful protest in Beijing. The April 25, 1999, protest was a pivotal precursor to an unprecedented human rights crisis.

Adherents of the spiritual practice, also called Falun Dafa, fell victim to a disinformation and defamation campaign orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the late 1990s. It’s widely believed that then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin ordered the campaign because he felt threatened that there were more people practising Falun Gong than there were members of the Party. He also viewed Falun Gong’s moral teachings as being in conflict with the communist ideology of atheism.

In 1999, after 45 Falun Gong practitioners were arbitrarily detained, some 10,000 adherents convened at Beijing’s National Appeals Office to petition for their constitutionally protected right to belief. But the CCP escalated its persecution in response. It officially launched a nationwide violent suppression of Falun Gong three months later, in July 1999.
Lawmakers and rights defenders worldwide have condemned the CCP’s use of torture, sexual abuse, and the egregious practice of organ harvesting against Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. In particular, Canadian international human rights lawyer David Matas has described the persecution of Falun Gong as a prolonged “cold genocide.”
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Hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gather at the Ontario legislative building in Toronto on April 20, 2024. The rally was held to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)
Hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gather at the Ontario legislative building in Toronto on April 20, 2024. The rally was held to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)

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Speaking at the rally, Jose Peralta, who immigrated to Canada from Argentina four years ago, said that upon learning about the April 25, 1999, incident, “I just couldn’t believe what happened, because the only thing these practitioners wanted was to practise in peace and become better people without being harassed and persecuted.”

“Around 10,000 people, self-motivated, gathered there peacefully and quietly, and stood there for hours to get an answer. They even cleaned up everything [before] they left without blocking any road that [would] impede transit,” he said.

“In a world where protests today are full of anger, hate, looting, blocking bridges or avenues, and disturbing order in society, [Falun Gong] practitioners did just the opposite. They sat down, [or] stood on the sidewalk in silence. I thought that was beautiful, and so inspiring.”

“It was a great demonstration of what Falun Gong practitioners’ characteristic is like, which was completely opposite to the lies the CCP was presenting at that time and [continues to do],” he added.

Mr. Peralta said he took up the practice of Falun Gong five years ago. Referring to the people who took part in the April 25, 1999, petition in Beijing, he said, “I don’t think that they were aware at that time that they would inspire millions in the future, even to this day—even me, a person who was born on the opposite side of the world.”
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CCP ‘Going Towards Its Destruction’

Michael Stainton, president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, commended Falun Gong practitioners for their perseverance in peacefully resisting the CCP’s repression, noting its impact on both practitioners and the wider Chinese population.

“In its desperation to preserve its power, in its desperate fear of any organization that is not controlled by the Communist Party, the Communist Party effectively destroyed the basis of its own rule and is going towards the destruction of its own role in China,” Mr. Stainton said.

“They organized a mass persecution that had no basis in law. ... People don’t believe what’s happening in China because it’s so shocking and so terrible,” he added.

He noted that the CCP created an extrajudicial body specifically tasked with directing the persecution of Falun Gongso-called the “610 Office” as it was established on June 10, 1999.

“Surely, no rational government would do this. And yet, this is not a rational government. The Communist Party, in fact, is not a government at all.”

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Michael Stainton (L), president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, addresses hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gathered at a rally on the grounds of the Ontario legislature to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice, in Toronto on April 20, 2024. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)
Michael Stainton (L), president of the Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, addresses hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gathered at a rally on the grounds of the Ontario legislature to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice, in Toronto on April 20, 2024. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)

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Mr. Stainton pointed out that the regime was aware many communist officials, military personnel, and police officers were secretly practising Falun Gong, and thus implemented “a reign of terror that affected all of the Chinese people.” This persecution included setting up “kangaroo courts” and multiple prisons to intimidate both Falun Gong adherents and their own cadre.

Additionally, the CCP made it illegal for lawyers to defend Falun Gong adherents, Mr. Stainton said. He noted that “today, we should especially remember and call out the name of Gao Zhishengwhose fate in China remains unknownfor his courage in persisting and defending Falun Gong people in court.”
Mr. Gao, one of the most respected human rights lawyers in China, himself suffered from persecution, including severe torture and imprisonment, for defending Falun Gong practitioners. He currently is reportedly being held in custody with no contact with the outside world.

“Today, because of its desperation to eradicate Falun Gong—a desperation which has not been successful—the Communist Party has thrown China into a dead end of a fascist dictatorship,” Mr. Stainton said.

He expressed hope that the persecution will soon endnot in violence and chaos, but rather in paving “a new road of hope for the people of China and for the people of the world” due to Falun Gong’s dedication.

Mr. Staintont spoke on Falun Gong’s three core principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance and its practitioners’ peaceful adherence to those ideals.

“In the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted just as Falun Gong practitioners are today, but Falun Gong people suffer much worse persecution,” Mr. Stainton said.

“Christians eventually triumphed because of their faith; they did not strike back against the Romans [because] they practised loving their enemy.” Similarly, he noted, Falun Gong adherents in China and in Canada all abide by their three core tenets, which Mr. Stainton said serve as “the spiritual basis on which any civilization is rebuilt.”

“So I’m here today to call on Canadians to take Falun Gong seriously,” he said. “ I’m here today to stand with you.”

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‘Commitment to Freedom of Expression’

Dean Baxendale, president and publisher of Optimum Publishing International, condemned the CCP’s suppression of Falun Gong and other religious minorities in China. He described the gathering on the grounds of the Ontario legislature as a “demonstration of commitment to freedom of expression.”

“The Chinese Communist Party chooses to ignore, and they continue to ignore any expression of free speech, or of religion, as we know today,” he said.

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Dean Baxendale, president and publisher of Optimum Publishing International, addresses hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gathered at a rally on the grounds of the Ontario legislature to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice, in Toronto on April 20, 2024. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)
Dean Baxendale, president and publisher of Optimum Publishing International, addresses hundreds of Falun Gong adherents gathered at a rally on the grounds of the Ontario legislature to condemn the Chinese Communist Party's 25 years of repression of the spiritual practice, in Toronto on April 20, 2024. (Jerry Zhang/The Epoch Times)

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Mr. Baxendale highlighted the CCP’s forced harvesting of organs from prisoners, initially targeting Falun Gong adherents and later extending to other religious communities.

A Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) special report says, “It is difficult to assess the actual number of Falun Gong adherents who have been killed in detention. According to some estimates, 50,000 to 100,000 [Falun Gong] members are being killed for their organs per year.”

“Although this number appears unfathomable, the actual number might be even larger,” adds the DAFOH report published December 2022.

Mr. Baxendale said “this deadly, brutal organ harvesting regime that is criminal in nature should be condemned by every government in the world.”

Allen Zhou contributed to this report.

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