Falun Gong practitioners marked a grim anniversary yesterday, protesting a decade of persecution and alleged atrocities at the hands of China's communist regime.
A small group of demonstrators formed a chain facing the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, meditating and performing ceremonial Falun Gong rites while calling on western governments to help end a decade of bloodshed.
The spiritual practice of Falun Gong was introduced in China in 1992 based on the three tenets of truth, compassion and forbearance. As its popularity grew, the practice was outlawed by the Communist government in 1999, and a violent crackdown was launched on July 20 of that year with the goal of eradicating the spiritual practice within three months.
Ten years later, estimates range between 200,000 and two million Falun Gong practitioners incarcerated in Chinese detention centres and labour camps, with a conservative estimate of more than 3,000 killed.
The Chinese government has come under harsh criticism from international humanitarian organizations in the face of the allegations.
"For 10 years we've been doing nothing but trying to tell the truth," said Lucy Zhou, national co-ordinator of Falun Dafa Association of Canada.
"We're not a political organization, we're a group of people who practise meditation and spirituality in a very quiet and peaceful way. We're not supposed to be a threat to anybody."
David Kilgour, retired MP and the author of a damning 2006 report uncovering evidence of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, delivered a passionate speech yesterday aimed directly at Chinese Ambassador Lan Lijun.
"We're here for the Falun Gong community today but we might be talking about many others in a long list of persecuted citizens of China," said Kilgour.
"These are peaceful, non-violent, good citizens of China," said Kilgour of the estimated 100 million Falun Gong practitioners still in that country.
"No Chinese citizens have been treated more brutally, more mercilessly than the Falun Gong community."