"This anniversary will remain forever a peaceful commemoration, a milestone, and a moral monument established by Falun Gong practitioners in China,” a spokeswoman for the group said.
Following the gathering, arrested practitioners were released.
Vying for power
Subsequently, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) described the gathering as a siege on the central government compound, and characterised Falun Gong as vying for power.
Falun Gong say that the CCP then cast the practice as a public enemy, although its followers say the ancient cultivation practice is based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
In 1999, there were 100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China (according to government statistics). Because of its popularity and traditional faith, former communist leader Jiang Zemin ordered the practice to be “eradicated”.
Falun Gong became the largest and most severely persecuted group in China by the CCP. Millions have been detained or imprisoned and over 100,000 have been tortured or abused, with thousands killed merely because of their faith. The exact numbers killed are unknown.
An independent tribunal held in London — chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC — determined that “crimes of humanity” against Falun Gong “has been proved beyond reasonable doubt,” listing crimes such as murder, torture, rape, enforced disappearance, and organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners which have been perpetrated on a widespread, state-sponsored, and systematic level in China.
In 2016 the US House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 343: “expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting” from Falun Gong practitioners in “large numbers.”
In July 2016, the European Parliament passed a written declaration that “There have been persistent credible reports on systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People’s Republic of China, primarily from practitioners of Falun Gong peaceful meditation and exercises but also from Uighurs, Tibetans and Christians.”
On 14 June 2021, 12 UN Special Rapporteurs said in a news release that they were “extremely alarmed” by what they consider to be credible allegations of forced organ harvesting at the hands of Chinese Communist regime, targeting religious and ethnic minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners.