The Art of Zhen, Shan, Ren (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance) International Exhibition was held on May 26 through June 9, 2017 at Galleri Melefors in the city of Linköping Sweden. Prior to the event the Chinese Embassy called and demanded that the city cancel it.
Truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are the principles of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime for the past 18 years. The regime’s overseas organizations often attempt to interfere with efforts by practitioners to raise awareness of the persecution.
The city denied the embassy’s request. At the opening ceremony Mr. Niklas Nåbo, the city’s first vice mayor, and forty other guests came and embraced the event. Mr. Nåbo addressed the importance of human rights in his speech.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Mr. Nåbo explained to the Chinese Embassy staff about why he decided to attend the exhibition. He said, “We are urged to stand up to protect the basic freedom and human rights, the foundation of which this society is built on.” He also pointed out that Sweden should be an example for other countries in standing up and expressing its views on human rights issues.
Two of the most widely circulated news media of the city reported on the event. On May 31 Linköping Posten exposed how the Chinese Embassy tried to interfere with the exhibition, and called it a bizarre act. The article also praised the hosts of the exhibition, Ilias and Michel, for bravely bringing the art exhibition to the city.
“Before the exhibition the city received a phone call from the Chinese Embassy saying how this event was not appropriate for the citizens in Linköping,” the article says. It then brought up the previous event that the Chinese Embassy also tried to interfere with. According to the article, several years ago the city was about to host a performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts and received a call from the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm asking it to cancel the show.
The article from Östgöta Correspondenten on May 25, a day before the exhibition, introduced Falun Gong as a belief and a way of living rooted in traditional Chinese culture and spiritual discipline. It says that the exhibition was named after Falun Gong’s main principle, “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance,” and its mission was to expose the ongoing persecution of the practice in China.
The two-week-long exhibition attracted over 500 visitors. Heidi, a volunteer giving tours at the exhibition, noticed that there were many young people who were very interested. They dropped in as they walked by the gallery or after they were given fliers. They were very curious and wanted to know why the persecution took place in 1999. They showed a lot of sympathy for practitioners in China.
One day a woman in her early twenties came straight to Heidi and said that she wanted a tour so that she could learn more about the exhibition. Within an hour she understood what happened and believed that kindness would eventually conquer evil. She said that there was light radiating from all the paintings and giving hope to people, even in the midst of the darkness.