Annie, a business woman in her forties, spent one and a half years in a “living hell” - a Chinese forced labour camp - because she refused to renounce her belief in Falun Gong. From October 15th - 19th,
2007, almost exactly one year after being granted asylum in the UK, Annie toured the southwest of England to give a series of talks about what she endured and to ask for people's help in bringing the persecution of Falun Gong in China to an end.
With the support of local Falun Gong practitioners Annie spoke to around 350 people in different towns and cities across the region, including Amnesty International and secondary school groups, and gave an interview to local media. Audiences were stunned by what Annie had endured and touched by her peaceful demeanour as she retold her story. Several audience members were moved to tears. Many people asked questions at the end of each talk, wanting to understand why the persecution is taking place and to know what they could do to help. Some also wanted to learn Falun Gong after watching Anne's beautiful demonstration of the five gentle exercises.
|An article about Annie in the West Briton newspaper, the distribution of which covers the whole of Cornwall|
The talks were a huge success with most everyone in the audience signing petitions and taking information. There were also many requests for the statement Annie had written - which formed the basis of her talks - to be emailed to people. One of the Amnesty International coordinators commented, “I think her talks left people overwhelmed with admiration for her as well as fired up to be very active”. This was born out by the
number of people who left the talks vowing to pass the information on to others and to write letters to their MPs. A university Amnesty student group also wanted to write letters to practitioners detained in labour camps after Annie explained how support from people outside of China helped her and lessened the severity of her treatment.
This was the first time Annie had left London to share her story; she was deeply touched by the number of people that came to listen and encouraged by their support. She now plans to travel to other parts of the UK to let more people know about Falun Gong and the cruelness of the persecution against practitioners in China.
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