NEW YORK--A retired worker from China's Environmental Protection Agency was beaten to death at a prison in Northeast China on October 7, within less than a month of being imprisoned there for distributing Falun Gong informational materials.
Ms. Zhao Yanxia (赵艳霞), a 55-year-old from Siping City, was abducted by police on May 31, 2011 while distributing materials about Falun Gong and human rights abuses faced by practitioners. In September, she was sentenced after a sham trial to three and a half years in prison. She was then transferred to Jilin Province Women's Prison (吉林省女子监狱) without her family being notified. Within less than four weeks, she was dead.
With the help of a lawyer, Ms. Zhao’s family pressured the authorities to allow them to view her body at the funeral parlor. They found that her eyes were black and blue and her body was covered in bruises, indicating she had been beaten to death.
Prior to her latest detention, Ms. Zhao had previously been sentenced twice to re-education through labor camps for practicing Falun Gong - once for one year, and again for three years.
For the full details of Ms. Zhao's imprisonment and death, see her case details.
The Falun Dafa Information Center had documented over 55 Falun Gong deaths known to have occurred since January 2011. In total, overseas Falun Gong researchers have documented 3,470 cases of deaths due to abuse in custody since the Chinese Communist Party launched its campaign in 1999 to persecute Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong. The actual death toll is certainly higher, given the difficulty of documenting such abuses in China.
Jilin province, home to the city of Changchun where Falun Gong was first introduced in China, is historically known to be particularly deadly for Falun Gong practitioners. The Falun Dafa Information Center urges the international community to hold the leaders of Jilin Province Women's Prison accountable for Ms. Zhao's death.