NEW YORK—A middle-aged Falun Gong practitioner, who had been severely tortured in custody, died last month in a prison camp in Tianjin, the Falun Dafa Information Center recently learned. The death of Mr. Zhu Wenhua (朱文华), age 53, brings to 50 the number of Falun Gong practitioners known to have died in Tianjin since 1999 due to persecution. The confirmed death toll of Falun Gong practitioners nationwide is 3,406, but overseas human rights experts say the real death toll is likely many times that figure.
Zhu, a former employee of Tianjin’s International Heat and Ventilation Equipment Company, was abducted by police in 2003. In March 2004, Zhu was “sentenced” to eight years in a prison camp following a sham trial at Nankai District Court.
Zhu was taken to Tianjin Municipal Prison (天津监狱), where he has been held since and tortured. His family was notified that on July 19, 2010 Zhu died in custody.
"Zhu's tragic death is another reminder that behind the facade of progress and modernity, a China run by the Communist Party remains a barbaric and lawless place for Falun Gong practitioners," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang.
According to sources inside China, while in custody at the camp, Zhu was severely tortured because he refused to renounce his faith in Falun Gong. During one torture session, guards beat him so badly that one of his legs was broken, leaving him disabled.
Throughout Zhu’s time at the camp, his family was denied the opportunity to visit him. On one occasion, his nearly 90-year-old mother appeared at the camp in person requesting to see her son, but prison personnel refused to allow her access to him.
In late July, the prison administration notified Zhu’s family that he had died on July 19, 2010, allegedly of a heart attack -- a common cause cited by prison camp authorities when prisoners actually die from torture-related injuries. His family doubts the official version of events, and believes that he was tortured to death.
Stricken by grief at the news of Zhu’s sudden death, his elderly mother passed away within two weeks of her son.