Falun Gong supporters rallied in downtown Calgary on Thursday to protest the ongoing persecution of the group in China and to urge the Canadian government to help release relatives of some Calgarians detained there for being practitioners.

Calgary PhD student Winston Liu's wife, Yue Yao, is one of at least three people with relatives here being punished in Chinese prisons for practicing the belief system.

The couple was arrested in 2001 after officials discovered they were downloading and spreading information about persecution of Falun Gong [practitioners].

Liu, now a mechanical engineering student in Calgary, said he was shocked with electric batons while in jail.

Now with his wife just midway through a 12-year prison term in Beijing, he is hoping Canada steps in to help secure her release.

"There is not any law in China," he said.

"In China the law is just in the textbook."

Mei Li, the sister of a Calgarian, was handed a three-year term at a labour camp for practicing Falun Gong and reportedly tortured.

And Zhiming Chen said his wife Jinling Huang has been tortured in a China prison for the last seven years.

Members say hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been detained in prisons and labour camps in China where they are tortured and often killed for refusing to renounce their faith.

[...] the group here plans to meet with MPs to try to get the feds to intervene.

Recent reports claim some members have been killed and their organs taken.

In 1999, China outlawed Falun Gong, a practice of meditation and exercises with roots in traditional culture. Supporters say Beijing has ordered thousands of followers detained and hundreds killed. China denies harming practitioners.