August 14, 2006

Chinese human rights activists came to Sheffield to spread the word about persecution in their home country.

The visitors were all practitioners of Falun Gong, which the authorities have cracked down on in their homeland.

Richard Hollis, spokesman for the visitors, said the practice had over 100 million followers in China and so had more members than the Communist Party. He added, "That is why the authorities have moved against it – they boasted they could wipe it out in three months."

Mr. Hollis said since 1999 when the persecution began, many people had been imprisoned and tortured, including having organs removed against their will for operations. He added, "We believe around 3,000 people have been put to death in that time and a further 41,000 people are unaccounted for."

Zhen escaped from the country with the help of friends and now has an assumed name to protect her identity.

Before she left the country she was in hiding for many months and was destitue and homeless for several years.

She is now traveling around the country with supporters to raise awareness of the situation facing other Falun Gong practitioners.