By the time of writing, the Falun Dafa Information Center had documented the deaths of 109 Falun Gong practitioners between January and December 2009 resulting from severe abuse in police custody or other forms of persecution. Given the difficulty of obtaining information from China, the actual death toll is likely significantly higher. As delayed reports emerge in the coming weeks, the confirmed death toll is also expected to climb.
Large numbers of Chinese citizens detained for practicing Falun Gong continue to die because of brutality suffered at police stations, labor camps, and prisons across China. Throughout the calendar year of 2009, the Falun Dafa Information Center recorded the deaths of 109 practitioners due to such conditions. The Center has already received reports of multiple in 2010. None of these individuals committed any “crime” or engaged in any violent acts. Rather, they sought only to peacefully pursue the spiritual path of their choice. Though already reflecting large-scale abuses, these documented cases are most likely just the tip of the iceberg. They are the stories that, thanks to the courage and technical knowledge of the victims’ acquaintances, succeeded in slipping through the veil of secrecy and censorship that envelops Falun Gong deaths.
Approximately one-third of the cases – 35 individuals – died inside a Chinese police station, detention center, prison, or labor camp. The 26 practitioners who were detained in 2009 died within less than a year of their initial arrest, either in custody or shortly after release. Of those killed, 35 had been detained prior to 2007, and many of them died in the midst of serving a long term in a prison camp or after release, having never recovered from the injuries incurred in detention.
The victims were of all ages and professions and from all locations. They ranged from a 28-year-old factory worker from Sichuan province, who died in custody within weeks of being detained, to a 71-year-old woman from Chongqing, who was sentenced to a labor camp in 2008 and died just months after her release, unable to recover from the daily beatings, starvation, and hard labor she endured in the camp. Among the victims, there were farmers, retired factory workers, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, teachers, and doctors. The gender breakdown was 47 women and 62 men. A large number had previously been illegally detained in labor or prison camps for practicing Falun Gong.
A complete table of the names and available details surrounding these known cases can be found here. The table was compiled from a variety of sources, including testimony of relatives or friends of the deceased, photographic evidence, and follow-up phone calls made by researchers to the relevant police or prison authorities. Several cases also draw on reporting during the year by international media, the United Nations, and human rights groups. Due to the difficulties inherent in investigating Falun Gong cases, details for some cases may be not be fully available.
The table does not include cases of Falun Gong practitioners killed so that their organs could be used for transplants due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the practice. Nevertheless, since 2006, a range of credible evidence and investigations have pointed to the existence, and likely continuation, of such forcible organ removal. Its full scale remains unknown.
In total, since 1999, at least 3,369 Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of various forms of persecution. Due to the secrecy surrounding such cases, the actual death toll is most likely much higher.
In examining the details of the cases from 2009, several patterns emerge:
Falun Gong Deaths Cited in 2009 Annual Report of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions
In addition to the above cases from 2009, this chapter lists 14 cases of deaths in custody or shortly after release that were included in a joint appeal submitted to the Chinese government by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions requesting additional information. As of May 2009, when the Rapporteur’s annual report was published, he had yet to receive a reply from the Chinese authorities. (read more)