MELBOURNE, Australia—Amid the planned protests that occurred on July 9 in a city that was once dubbed the “most liveble,” one particular group stood out amidst the chaos to bring locals a peaceful message.
That message was “Falun Dafa is Good.”
The purpose of the march, which has remained the same since July 20, 1999, was to: remember practitioners of Falun Dafa who have suffered and lost their lives due to persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), raise awareness of the ongoing human rights atrocities occurring to practitioners in China today, and to call on support to end this persecution.
Also known as Falun Gong, Falun Dafa is an ancient spiritual practice of the Buddhist tradition that includes gentle exercises and a set of teachings based on the principles of truth, compassion, and forbearance.
En Route to Raise Awareness
Starting from Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens, the Falun Dafa group were led by the Tianguo Marching Band in a procession followed by floats, waist drums, fans dancers, banners, practitioners performing the gentle exercises, as well as ladies dressed in white carrying wreaths commemorating those who lost their lives in China.
Banners that read: “23 Years of Persecution Must End Now,” “Falun Dafa teaches Truth, Compassion, Tolerance,” and “End Communism, Save Humanity” were also seen.
As the Falun Dafa group marched along Spring Street, down Chinatown along Little Bourke Street, through Swanston Street and later ending at Federation Square, they were greeted and cheered on by passersby as well curious business owners and customers as the resounding beats and orchestral melodies echoed through the city streets.
The peaceful march also moved some members of Victoria Police, with one officer remarking to an NTD reporter that this was an “example of how a peaceful march should be conducted.”
— Alex Joseph (@alexcjoseph1) July 9, 2022
The peaceful march comes in stark contrast to more recent protests in Melbourne that saw violent clashes erupting between groups as well as with members of the Victoria Police.
In an email to The Epoch Times, Victoria Police said that while a visible police presence was seen on July 9 to “maintain public order, ensure community safety and to prevent breaches of the peace” due to a number of planned protests and demonstrations, “there were no issues in relation to the Falun [Gong] parade.”
‘Relief and Remediation’ to CCP’s Cruel Persecution
Since July 20, 1999—the day former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin issued a ban on Falun Dafa—millions of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained in jails and detention facilities across the country, where they are subjected to torture and forced organ harvesting.
According to Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the U.S. Committee on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners should be the focus when addressing human rights issues with China.
“We need to focus on it, first of all, [because] it is one of the most appalling crimes you can imagine,” Swett told EpochTV’s “China Insider” program.
“But it’s also very concrete. It’s something people when they hear about it [will get] shocked and sickened.”
Speaking at the rally at Federation Square, Gerard Flood from the Democratic Labor Party offered some solutions for Australians.
“Firstly we must take the chance to denounce and refute the stream of lies and deceits of the CCP and its agents,” he said.
Secondly, Flood suggests starting a campaign to apply “a new corporate government requirement” to organisations, institutions, agencies, and cooperations, “to ensure they are divorced from and remain quarantined from any complicity and association with the CCP’s crimes against humanity, including organ transplants, forced labour, slavery, torture, political persecution and genocide.”
“This program aims to and will set right the medical responsibilities, transplant-associated entities and professionals required to respect human rights to prevent grave abuses and any unrighteous actions,” Flood said.
“For the sake of world peace and most urgently for the relief and remediation of the CCP’s cruel persecution, the CCP must and will be liquidated.”
Appealing to the Government
Also speaking at the rally was Australian Member of Parliament David Limbrick, from the Liberal Democrats, who urged Australians to listen to the stories of those who lost their freedoms from other countries so as to “better understand why we have this freedom and why we want to defend them in the first place.”
“I’d like to commend to all those people who bravely stood up in defence of freedom of religion, and many people that risked their lived to speak out in support of people who were persecuted like Falun Dafa people in China, and those who come to Australia and make Australia home to flee persecution, I welcome you,” Limbrick said.
Among those who went to China to appeal for an end to the persecution were Jarrod and Emma Hall, who both, in March 2001, went to Tiananmen Square to protest.
“The reason why I went was I always learned at school about atrocities that happened in Germany in the 1940s and also other things that happened around the world like genocide in Rwanda and the Tiananmen Square massacre,” Jarrod said.
“I always thought about if you were there, would I be someone who did the right thing, or would I be someone who just looked after myself and kept my head down and didn’t do anything about the terrible things that were happening.”
When an opportunity came for both Jarrod and Emma to go to Tiananmen Square in 2001, Jarrod said it was his chance to do the “right thing.”
“It was very last minute, but I have a vivid and strong memory of standing on Tiananmen Square,” he recalled.
“I stood on Tiananmen Square, and I could see the picture of Chairman Mao, and I didn’t feel like a tourist.
“And I thought about all the Chinese (Falun Gong) practitioners that had sacrificed their lives that had sacrificed their freedom, that had sacrificed their health to stand up for human rights, and I knew that as a Westerner, I wasn’t sacrificing anywhere near as much.”
Both Jarrod and Emma then pulled out a banner that read “Falun Dafa Hao” (Falun Dafa is Good), which was sewn into the collar of their coats.
“It wasn’t much, but it was one of the things I have done in my life, of which I am most proud,” Jarrod said, adding that his actions would also leave a legacy for his future generations.
Account of the Persecution
Angel, a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner from Shenyang, spoke of how she was persecuted after going to Tiananmen Square in July 2000 with three other practitioners to protest.
Within seconds of appealing, they were forcefully taken away by police.
Then in 2001, Angel was illegally kidnapped and taken to a brain-washing class.
“I went on a hunger strike to protest the persecution, and a few people pressed me on a chair to force-feed me. When they pulled out the tube, there was blood on it. After the hunger strike, my blood pressure was extremely low, so they asked my family to carry me back home,” she said.
Following another round of persecution in March 2004 that saw her almost edge on the verge of death, Angel then came to Australia to escape the CCP’s persecution.
“Why do I and my family suffer so much just because I believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. When will I be able to go to work, study the Fa (teachings of Falun Dafa), and do the exercises in peace like a normal person? In China, freedom of belief is a priority—a luxury,” she said.
Other speakers at the rally were Fan Huiqiang from the Falun Dafa Association of Australia Victoria Branch, Peter Westmore, former president of the National Civic Council, Ruan Jie editor of Tiananmen Times and chairman of the Chinese Democratic Party Australia, and Chinese speaker Gao Jian. Other officials who were not able to speak at the rally but sent a letter of support were Bernie Finn from the Democratic Labour Party and Senator Jordan Steele from the Australian Greens.