New York—A middle-aged woman from Hebei province died in mid-August in police custody eight days after being abducted from her home for practicing Falun Gong, the Falun Dafa Information Center recently learned.
Ms. Yuan Pingjun (袁平君), a seamstress in her forties, died around August 10, 2010. She had been abducted from her home on August 2. Yuan is one of many recent cases emerging from China of Falun Gong practitioners dying in custody within hours or days of being detained. Fifteen percent of the documented cases of Falun Gong deaths in 2009 involved practitioners who had died within two months of their latest detention.
"The death of Pingjun Yuan in custody is a clear reminder that the life of each and every Falun Gong practitioner, who number in the tens of millions in China, remains at risk under the communist regime's campaign against us," says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Gail Rachlin.
According to sources inside China, Yuan was abducted from her home shortly after 9am on August 2, when officers from Ning’an Police Station burst into the house. They ransacked the home, confiscated her son’s computer, took Yuan’s Falun Dafa books, and extorted 550 yuan from the family. The previous day, Yuan was apparently followed home by police after visiting the relatives of Xia Junying, a Falun Gong practitioner and close friend who had been detained on July 15.
After her detention, Ms. Yuan was confined to the Hebei Province Legal Education Training Center (河北省"法制教育培训中心"). “Legal Education Training Center” is a common euphemism for facilities where Falun Gong practitioners are taken for brainwashing efforts to force them to renounce their belief. Such efforts routinely involve physical violence and torture. A week and a half later, guards informed her family that Yuan had died around August 10, claiming it was due to a fall from the third floor of the building.
It is a common phenomenon for Chinese security agencies to inform family members that a Falun Gong practitioner who died in custody had “fallen from a building” or “died of a heart attack.” However, eyewitness testimony or other evidence has often revealed that the individual in fact died from torture or other physical abuse. In one such case from April 2009, 39-year-old Ms. Sun Min died in police custody within hours of being detained. Sources inside China who viewed the body reported marks from electric batons and blows with a heavy object. Yet, in their notice to the family, police claimed that they had found her dead on April 23 after she fell from her apartment (news). Falun Gong refugees and torture victims have reported having guards warn them that the officers can beat them as much as they would like because if the practitioner dies, it will only be listed as a suicide.
Police forbade Yuan’s family from setting up an arrangement to mourn her death. According to acquaintances of Yuan’s, the woman was in good health before her detention. Additional investigations continue into the full details surrounding her death.
Ms. Yuan’s Address: Telecommunication Bureau Family Housing 5-1-101, Yongtaizhong Street, Xinhua District, Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province
Individuals related to Yuan’s case
Zhi Qiang, Ning'an Police Station Director: 86-311-87043130 (Office), 86-13932155100 (Cell)
Ren Xuanjun, Ms. Yuan Pingjun case officer: 86-13722792211 (Cell)
Liu Fuzhong, Ms. Xia Junyng's local community police officer: 86-13833453776 (Cell)