Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year.  (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year.  (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—They had just arrived in the United States a little more than a week ago, but they were ready to tell the world about what they endured.

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, two sisters from China joined a group of about 80 meditating protesters outside the U.N. building. Rui and Xing are practitioners of Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice that the Chinese regime has heavily persecuted since 1999. They asked to use pseudonyms for fear of repercussions for their parents living in China, who also practice Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong).

Rui and Xing were just 11 and 8 years old when their father was arrested and sentenced to prison for 14 and a half years for his faith in the ancient Buddhist discipline. Feeling threatened by Falun Dafa’s growing popularity in China—reaching 100 million practitioners at its peak, according to Falun Gong sources, or 70 million according to a survey by the state, the Communist authorities launched a systematic campaign in 1999 to eradicate the practice.

Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year.  (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

In their home in Gansu, a central region of China, Rui and Xing recall the local police barging in and keeping them under house surveillance, keeping watch 24/7 for weeks on end. Six years later, their mother was also arrested and sentenced to prison. This time, the police also enlisted Rui’s school administrators and teachers to spy on her. 17 and 14 years old, they were left to fend for themselves, with the help of some Falun Dafa practitioners who lived nearby. Rui and Xing were told they could not apply for college student loans.

“We want to tell China’s delegates to stop the persecution, so that the practitioners in China can believe freely. They are people we know, people who are still suffering,” Rui said in Chinese.

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Despite the heavy winds on Tuesday, the Falun Dafa practitioners outside the U.N. arrived early in the morning to begin their silent protest. Most were either performing the exercises or holding tightly to their unfurled banners that threatened to collapse against the wind, with printed messages like “the world needs truth, compassion, tolerance”—the faith’s three central tenets—and “bring Jiang Zemin to justice” in English and Chinese. Jiang was the leader of China who initiated the persecution.

Wang Luorui, a practitioner who had been arrested 11 times in China, said she hopes American president Donald Trump will put pressure on China to bring Jiang to justice. “It will allow Falun Gong to bring the universal values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance to the Chinese people,” she said.

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Wang Cun Ling, a practitioner from Shanghai, said her faith helped her to become a responsible and caring teacher who mentored many students in China who successfully applied to top colleges. With the influence that the U.N. has over the world, she hopes to convey the message to all people that Falun Dafa is good. “We want to tell people the truth [about Falun Gong] in a peaceful, compassionate way,” she said.

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

fd-un-20170919-benjamin-chasteen0206

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners meditate to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York while the world leaders meet on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong exercise at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017, to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners hold banners and perform exercises to raise awareness about the persecution inside China that is now in its 18th year at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Read the full article here