My name is Michelle. I am a 32 year-old Chinese Falun Gong practitioner living in Vancouver. I would like to tell you my story and the story of my family, whoálive in China.

I have a younger sister named Jennifer who I am really close to. She started to practice Falun Gong in 1997. I noticed great changes in her as she was healthier, happier, and more at peace. At her practice-site she met another practitioner named Songtao. They fell in love and were soon married. They were very happy and I was happy for them. By that time, I was also married, and my husband and I decided to immigrate to North America.

Upon arriving in the United States, where we were then living, I was distressed to discover that my mother had developed lung cancer. Jennifer had told her of all the miraculous recoveries from serious illnesses that Falun Gong practitioners had experienced, so my mother decided to give it a try. Sure enough, soonámy mother's disease went into full remission. I was very impressed. My father was so inspired by the changes that he saw in his wife and the things that she shared with him, that he also began to practice. I was glad my family was so harmonious and happy. Jennifer became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Then an event happened that was to drastically change our lives and the lives of all Falun Gong practitioners in China. On July 20, 1999 - the Communist Regime declared Falun Gong illegal. Practitioners were stunned and innocently started to appeal to the government in order to let them know of their misunderstanding of Falun Gong. Those who appealed were taken to labour camps, volunteer organizers were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, and many were sent to mental hospitals. Billions of dollars were poured into the propaganda machine that demonized Falun Gong. Media bombarded its citizens with hate-literature againstáFalun Gong 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The persecution by Jiang Zemin against his own innocent citizens had begun.

My brother-in-law, Songtao, who obtained a Masters degree in marine biology in June 1999, was one of the first practitioners who went to appeal to the government officials. He was immediately arrested and taken to a labour camp. He was denied family visits and no one knew where he was - he "disappeared". His wife, my sister Jennifer, who was employed as a chief accountant for a foreign company, began to be harassed at work. At first her employers protected her because they knew she was a good person and an excellent worker, but eventually they told her she would have to give up the practice or be let go. She lost her job in January of 2000. Jennifer was followed everywhere, and police were stationed outside her house at all times; she was treated as a criminal. This harassment took a huge toll on my whole family - so much so that my parents abandoned their practice. My mother's lung cancer returned in March of 2000.

I did not know the whole situation that my family was experiencing. By this time I was living in Vancouver and was pregnant. My family did not want me to worry, as there was nothing I could do since I was so far away. I had heard about the persecution but had no idea of the severity of the situation. Because I was not a practitioner there were a lot of things that I didn't understand. I would phone my sister and brother-in-law and encourage them to stop practicing so our family could once again return to normal. Songtao was always very kind and patient with me on the phone, trying to explain how important it was to stand up for the truth. Falun Gong practitioners were innocent, good people representing the very nature of the universe - Truthfulness-Benevolence-Tolerance. I knew that Songtao and my sister were such good people. Songtao was one of the most honourable and compassionate people I have ever met.

It was not until March 2001 that I learned of my brother-in-law's untimely death at the hands of the police. During a conversation with my father on the phone, he broke down in tears and fully disclosed the persecution that my family was suffering. Songtao had been tortured to death by a police officer on November 3, 2000 for not giving up his belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. And his wife, my sister, was "missing".

I was stunned. How could this be happening? What was going on? Someone sent me a copy of a letter that Songtao had written from labour camp. It was full of such compassion and mercy without a single trace of fear. It was then that I decided to look more deeply into a practice that inspired such altruism and selflessness, even in the face of such horrific persecution.

I started to read and study the teachings of Mr. Li Hongzhi and slowly I began to understand. My practice began in earnest that March of 2001. Everyday I think about my sister and wonder where she is, what she is doing, what she is thinking about. I know how women practitioners are treated in labour camps. I have heard the stories documented by international human rights agencies of women being electrically shocked in their private parts, having hot needles pierced into their nipples, being thrown naked into the cells of vicious male criminals to be tortured and raped, having no sleep, being shackled in inhumane positions, with no access to bathroom facilities....

My mother died of her disease, which was aggravated by her grief about her daughter and son-in-law. My widowed father now takes care of his granddaughter. He is monitored continually because of his relationship with his daughter Jennifer and any information he might give to me.

I live here in Canada with my husband and baby girl. And even so many miles away from China, I feel the effects of the persecution. The Vancouver Chinese Consulate spreads the Regime's propaganda of hatred and lies to everyone who visits their offices, to all levels of government and to anyone who offers support for our cause. I want to do whatever I canáto help my family, to help the world know the truth about the persecution and to help the millions of other innocent Chinese families who are being torn apart by this brutal and senseless persecution.