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Buzzle (UK) - Daughter of Arrested Falun Gong Couple in Plea to Downing Street Over China's Persecution

July 21, 2009 |  


Adherents are still being arrested, mistreated and sent to labour camps in large numbers.

Ten years after China launched a brutal persecution of the Falun Gong religion, its followers are still being arrested, mistreated and sent to labour camps in large numbers.

As Falun Gong followers across the world gathered this weekend to protest at China's mistreatment, Amnesty International highlighted the case of an elderly couple - whose daughter lives in Britain - arrested by plainclothes officers of the National Security Brigades in Inner Mongolia in a late-night raid last month.

Although images of the Tiananmen Square crackdown a decade before the Falun Gong persecution have become the dominant western idea of Chinese state repression, the treatment of the Falun Gong - who practice new-age mind and body cultivation exercises called qigong - has been further reaching.

Adherents, estimated to number between 60 million and 100 million, have allegedly been tortured and sent to psychiatric and re-education camps where they have been forced to renounce their religion and name other followers.

According to Amnesty, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been arbitrarily detained in China since the movement was banned as a "threat to social and political stability" in July 1999. Those accused of being leaders or organisers have been imprisoned. The vast majority, however, have been sent to controversial Re-education Through labor facilities without trial and often without access to a lawyer.

Natalie Qiao, who lives in Watford, Hertfordshire, is the daughter of Qiao Yongfang and Yan Dongfei, both 60, who were arrested in Huhot city in Inner Mongolia in June. She will hand a petition about them and the Falun Gong persecution to Downing Street tomorrow.

"We are not allowed to talk to them. When we rang the National Security Brigades they said my parents were not co-operating," she said. "That means they have not written a letter denouncing Falun Gong or given names of other practitioners."

Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, said: "Natalie's is a heartbreaking story. Her parents were due to visit the UK to see their grandchildren at the end of the month. Now instead of preparing for a family visit, Natalie is worrying about their safety in a Chinese detention center."