A Chinese woman has spoken of her horror after learning of her parents' arrest and possible torture because of their religious beliefs.
“Nathalie”, who has lived in England for nine years and in Watford for the past three years, discovered her parents' terrifying fate last week.
She says the Chinese authorities are persecuting them because their belief in the Falun Gong religion, which has been banned in China for the last ten years.
Natalie, who has asked the Watford Observer not to publish her full name or address, said: “It happened last Monday night, Chinese time.
“My relatives rang my parents' house and someone else picked up the phone.
“The person then tried to find out who was ringing my parents.”
Nathalie's uncle then went to the house, in Huhhot, Inner Mongolia, and was eventually told the elderly couple had been forced into a car by “four or five young men” and driven away.
She has since traced them to a known detention centre but does not know why or how long they are being held.
Nathalie, who lives and works in Watford, said: “They are just an ordinary couple in their 60s. All they want is good health and a peaceful mind and they try to help other people.
“Just because it happens to my family it makes it real upset, but this has been happening since 1999 to thousands of families.”
She added: “From previous experiences we have found out that Falun Gong practitioners have been put in detentions where they have been tortured to give other practitioners' names and to sign a
declaration that they will give it up.”
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient practice of refining the body and mind”.
It is a peaceful and spiritual faith which promotes truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, and is practised the world over.
However, in July 1999, the Chinese government banned it, presuming large numbers of followers could pose a threat to its ruling power.
Since then, Falun Gong has alleged its followers have been subjected to torture and sent to forced labour camps.
Nathalie is now terrified her parents will face a similar fate and has already contacted Claire Ward, Watford's MP, for help. She has also launched an on-line petition for their release.
She added: “I just don't want anything bad to happen to them.
“Lots of Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured or made to work in labour camps so I am really really worried about my parents.
“They are just ordinary people. I just want them to be released – I need them to be released.”
To sign Nathalie's petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/freemyparents/.