Thousands Join New York Parade to Celebrate World Falun Dafa Day, Reject Communism

Eva Fu
By Eva Fu
May 10, 2024New York
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A parade on May 10 in New York City celebrated World Falun Dafa Day. Falun Dafa is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice based on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. Practitioners of the faith gathered to celebrate the day with colorful costumes, uplifting music, and inspiring stories.

NEW YORK—Thousands of people in blue and yellow jackets popped up in the heart of the Big Apple for a parade on May 10 just after a misty rain.

It’s an annual tradition. Fairies holding lotus flowers, a float ferrying people in ancient Chinese attire, a Western-style marching band, and Chinese waist drummers. They marched through the streets of Manhattan for about 1.5 hours, in step with sounds and melodies that drew inspiration from a China long ago.

The New York parade marks one of the largest of its kind in the world to commemorate World Falun Dafa Day, with an estimated 5,000 people taking part this year. It also marks the anniversary of the spiritual discipline’s introduction to the public 32 years ago.

It’s a day that mixes joy and sorrow.

The practice drew an estimated 70 million to 100 million people to it in China in the 1990s; it centered around meditative exercises and the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. In China, Falun Gong has been severely persecuted at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1999.

During the nearly 25 years of brutal persecution, an untold number of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed through torture, slave labor, and forced organ harvesting. Survivors in China—and those who practice in more than 100 countries around the world—say the communist persecution can’t make them bend their will.

Wang Huijuan, a Chinese language teacher in New York, took part in the parade. Her sister-in-law, music teacher Li Chunyuan, has spent weeks in Chinese detention for her faith.

Her alleged wrongdoing was “singing at home.”

“It sounds ridiculous, right?” Ms. Wang told The Epoch Times. The police, while conducting a house raid, told Ms. Li’s husband: “Do you know that she sings at home everyday? We’ve been monitoring her for a long time.”

NTD Photo
Wang Huijuan takes part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Not that there was anything wrong with the songs, Ms. Wang said. Ms. Li, who has a sonorous voice, sings songs with lyrics that celebrate Chinese traditions, such as the lunar Chinese New Year, that “brings people hope,” said Ms. Wang.

Ms. Li’s school also demoted her in 2022 to logistical work in a bid to force her to give up her belief.

“It’s really a shame,” she said. The CCP, she said, has chosen to be the opposite of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

“The more you strive to be a good person, the more they go after you.”

Julia Baniasadi, who works at a medical center, began practicing Falun Gong in 1998 when she was 20. Her severe back pain has since disappeared. As a mother of three, she described the values that the practice teaches as an anchor that keeps her family grounded.

Children nowadays are always on their phones or playing video games, she said.

“They don’t know how to play outside. They don’t know how to interact with people,” she told The Epoch Times.

“When I see my children, then I see a big difference. I raised them to be independent and to make the right decisions in life.”

NTD Photo
Julia Baniasadi and her son Kian take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

She teaches her children to “think of others first in whatever they do” and to “stand up for what’s right.”

Thanks to these values instilled in her 9-year-old son Kian, she said, he’s better able to handle bullying at school. Instead of cursing, hitting back, or getting depressed, he stays calm while still standing his ground.

“The bully can only bully you if you’re afraid,” she said.

Ms. Baniasadi had participated in various demonstrations appealing to an end to the persecution in China, including at the United Nations in Geneva.

The ongoing abuses in China, she said, has presented the free world with a choice.

“When the persecution started, a lot of people said, ‘Well, this has nothing to do with me, why should I care about this? Why don’t you look in our own country with all the issues we’re having?’”

“But actually, the Chinese Communist Party is everywhere,” she said.

She cited Beijing’s global campaign to disrupt New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts using a combination of diplomatic pressure, economic coercion, and physical attacks. Shen Yun’s tagline is “China before communism,” and several of its dance pieces portray current human rights abuses in China.

The CCP is “against everything good in this world, so actually, it has to do with all of us in this world,” Ms. Baniasadi said.

NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Ben Smith, a real estate developer, echoed Ms. Baniasadi’s sentiments.

In recent weeks, both Russian and Serbian authorities have rounded up and detained Falun Gong practitioners amid closer ties with the Chinese regime. One Russian practitioner is being held in jail for two months while an investigation is conducted based on a controversial law.

Mr. Smith finds such actions hard to believe.

“Where does it stop?” he asked.

Communists “do anything to maintain their power and they have no regard for human life,” he told The Epoch Times.

“They want to wipe out all the other faiths so all that’s left in people’s hearts and minds is communism, and that’s how they operate.”

NTD Photo
Ben Smith takes part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Smith credits the Falun Gong exercises for healing his immune system and giving him clarity of mind in a stressful job.

“It turned me into a better person, and healthier person with more energy,” he said.

He urged leaders of countries intending to court Beijing to “search within themselves and decide what’s right and wrong.”

The Chinese authorities may have economic levers, “but at the end of the day, it all comes down to something bigger than that,” he said.

What “really brings happiness,” he said, is inner strength.

NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day while calling for an end of the persecution in China, in New York City, on May 10, 2024. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

From The Epoch Times

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