NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2001 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – It has been learned that Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Chen Aizhong, age 33, of Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, died on September 20, 2001, following just seven days in custody at the Tangshan Labor Camp. Chen, who had just begun to serve a three-year sentence at the Camp, reportedly died of "respiratory failure" after being sent to the People’s Hospital of Tangshan City for emergency treatment.An official from the Tangshan City Department of Justice confirmed Chen’s death. The official stated that Chen had been on a prolonged hunger strike, and claimed that he died of "inhaling his own vomit into his lungs." Contacted officials at the Tangshan Labor Camp said they were "not clear" on Chen’s death and refused to answer questions.It is believed that Chen was subjected to torture while at the Camp, and most likely died of violent force-feeding. This past June two other Falun Gong practitioners were killed in the Tangshan Labor Camp, both by torture. And in the past year at least four other practitioners from Hebei (An Xiukun, Yang Guibao, Wang Ailing, and Liu Dongxue) have died in custody while on hunger strikes from force-feeding and torture by police.Chen is the twenty-fourth known Falun Gong practitioner from Hebei Province to die in police custody. Of these 24, an alarming 17 were killed in the first half of this year alone. In 2000 a total of 6 were killed, and in 1999 only 1 was.The total number of documented deaths from the two-year-plus persecution of Falun Gong in China has now reached 286, although government sources inside China disclose that the actual number exceeds 1,000.ore than 100,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been illegally arrested and detained since communist chief Jiang Zemin banned the peaceful spiritual practice in July of 1999. At least 20,000 have been sent to labor camps without trial, and thousands more have been illegally confined in mental hospitals where they are tortured and abused.