Sect membership up

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The Independent Online
UK MEMBERS of the Falun Gong sect, outlawed by the Chinese government, have been inundated with inquiries from followers around the world who want to come to London later this month for the country's first national conference.

Last week the Independent on Sunday revealed the movement's exiled leader Li Hongzhi was considering coming for the conference from his home in the US. It will begin with an hour of arm-waving exercises and meditation in Hyde Park.

Peter Jauhal, a management consultant who introduced Falun Gong to Britain more than three years ago, said: ``Master Li hasn't said yet if he is coming but we are expecting around 200 people, some from abroad.

``If people thought he was definitely coming those numbers would increase to a few thousand. We are liaising with police at the moment for our plans.''

Mr Jauhal said that since Peking had banned the movement, which claims 100 million members, membership in the UK had increased. Some followers in this country were under pressure from their families in China to stop practising in the UK, he said.