Sunday, March 24, 2013

Falun Gong in Greece: An Ancient Practice in an Ancient Land

March 18, 2013
Over the last decade, due to practitioners’ tireless efforts, more and more Greek people have learned about Falun Gong and the persecution in China. Many people have started practicing Falun Gong and are enjoying greater physical and spiritual well-being.  

( Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), an ancient cultivation practice of mind and body based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, is practiced and cherished throughout the world by people from all walks of life. Over the last 20-plus years, since Mr. Li Hongzhi first brought the practice to the public in China, Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) has been embraced in over 100 countries. 
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Group exercises at Olympic Sports Complex
Falun Dafa thrives in modern day Greece, the seat of one of the world’s most ancient civilizations. Ten years ago in March 2003, the Falun Dafa Association of Greece was registered as a legal organization.
In this photo report, practitioners from this historic land share some of the highlights of their many and varied activities as they introduce Falun Dafa (Falun Gong) to the public and tirelessly expose the ongoing persecution of the practice in China.
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Group exercise at the Parthenon in March 2002
Early Exposure in Greece
The first grand parade held by Falun Gong practitioners in Greece took place in Athens on March 26, 2002. The parade began at City Hall and ended at Syntagma Square in the heart of Athens. Practitioners demonstrated the Falun Gong exercises and displayed banners calling for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
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Group exercises in front of the Greek Parliament, Athens

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Media report on practitioners’ activities
Many local media, including the TV stations Mega, Antenna, Alpha, Seven and Alter, and local newspapers, covered the event and reported on the persecution in China.
A Visible Presence at the 2004 Summer Olympics
In August 11, 2004, Falun Gong practitioners held another parade in Athens. It was the only parade that was permitted and protected by the city government during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
The Chinese embassy exerted pressure on the local police department and tried to force the police department to cancel the parade and arrest Falun Gong practitioners. But the Greek government has long known that Falun Gong is a peaceful group and the police department did not give in to the Chinese embassy. The police protected practitioners during the entire parade.
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Falun Gong parade, August 11, 2004 during the 2004 Summer Olympics
The practitioners’ peacefulness impressed the Greek police. One policewoman said that more Greek people should learn from the peacefulness and harmony exhibited by Falun Gong practitioners.
Major Activities in 2007
In August 2007, the Greek version of Zhuan Falun, the main book of Falun Gong, was published. Zhuan Falun has so far been translated into more than 30 languages. The Greek version was popular at a national book expo in September 2007.
In August 9, 2007, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) initiated the Human Rights Torch Relay in Athens, which launched the Human Right Torch Relay around the world. This world-wide event, which took place throughout the year leading up to the Beijing Olympics, exposed the ongoing brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China. Local practitioners took the opportunity to hold a number of events to raise awareness about Falun Gong and expose the persecution to both local people and tourists.
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Demonstrating the exercises at the Parthenon
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Star TV station taking footage of practitioners doing the exercises
The Falun Gong events received positive news coverage. After interviewing a 52-year-old practitioner, a reporter from Star TV commented, “She looks like she’s 25 years old.” The TV station took footage of the group exercises, and aired it during the evening prime time.
Activities Call Attention to 10 Years of Persecution in China
From July 18-20, 2009, practitioners held a series of activities to expose the 10-year-long persecution of Falun Gong in China. On July 20, practitioners held a peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Embassy.
The police officers on duty talked to practitioners and took flyers to read. After the event, several officers bought bottled water for the practitioners, and gave practitioners a ride to the nearby bus station.
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Tourists learn the Falun Gong exercises
Practitioners have held weekly Falun Dafa “Information Day” activities at the city museum in Athens. At these events practitioners demonstrate the exercises and set up display boards to expose the persecution. They also pass out flyers to the many tourists visiting the museum.
The Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren
From May 12-19, 2012, practitioners hosted the Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren Exhibition in the Veria City Hall. It was the fifth time that this exhibition was held in Greece. Many people came to the exhibition, and wrote comments encouraging the practitioners to continue their efforts to expose and end the persecution.
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Young people attend the Art of Zhen-Shan-Ren
Exhibition in Veria City Hall in May 2012
From September 8-16, 2012, the art exhibition was held in Thessaloniki. More than 1,500 people came to the exhibition. A major local newspaper reported on the event and more than 5,000 people commented on the newspaper’s website. A local TV station had a special 10-minute program, reporting on the exhibition at 11 p.m. every night. The special program continued for 15 days.
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The art exhibition in Thessaloniki
Tireless Efforts Have Brought Awareness and Support
On February 23-24, 2013, Falun Gong practitioners held group exercises in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. Activities were held in downtown Thessaloniki and at the beach to raise awareness of the persecution in China.
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Group exercises in Thessaloniki in February 2013
Over the last decade, due to practitioners’ tireless efforts, more and more Greek people have learned about Falun Gong and the persecution in China. Many people have started practicing Falun Gong and are enjoying greater physical and spiritual well-being.