MANHATTAN — Thousands of people from over 30 countries marched on 42nd Street Thursday to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day. The parade aimed to raise awareness about the persecution of practitioners in China over the past 20 years.
“Falun Dafa—or Falun Gong—is an ancient Buddhist-based cultivation system,” Levi Browde, the Executive Director of the Falun Dafa Information Center, told PIX11 News. “It’s a system of self-improvement done through slow-moving exercises, meditation and also studying of the principals of honesty, compassion and tolerance.”
Though its roots date back thousand of years, the discipline began being publicly taught in 1992. The practice was officially banned in China in 1999, and over the past two decades the government has been accused of human rights abuses against followers.
Thursday’s parade, now in its 20th year, began at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in front of the United Nations. It was set to end at the Chinese consulate on 42nd Street and 12th Avenue.