NEW YORK, August 22, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) - With festering scars on her body and severe edema in her abdomen, Ms. Lingxia Wu was released from a Chinese detention center where she had been held and severely tortured for the past year. She died three weeks later from her injuries. Ms. Wu was 37 years old. Ms. Wu's case is one of four that have been confirmed by the Falun Dafa Information Center in the past week, bringing the confirmed count to over 455. China authorities put that number in the thousands, however."These are regular men and women - fathers and mothers - who are being persecuted and killed simply because they refuse to compromise their right to freedom of belief," commented Falun Dafa Information Center spokeswoman Gail Rachlin.Since Jiang Zemin's ban on Falun Gong was launched in 1999, tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been detained and tortured, often merely for practicing meditation in their homes or possessing materials pertaining to Falun Gong's teaching of self improvement through truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.It is widely believed among China scholars that Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong is politically motivated, aimed at prolonging his grasp on power within the politburo. According to one report by CNN's senior China analyst, Willy Wo-Lap Lam, "the most severe criticism leveled at Jiang's handling of the Falun Gong is that he seems to be using the mass movement to promote allegiance to himself." Lam's article goes on to quote a senior Communist Party member: "By unleashing a Mao-style movement , Jiang is forcing senior cadres to pledge allegiance to his line."The Falun Dafa Information Center has recently confirmed the following deaths:Mrs. Lingxia Wu, 37, from Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang ProvinceMr. Xiaochun Zhang, a railroad worker from Suihua City, Heilongjiang ProvinceMs. Xiangyun Deng, 39, a resident of Hegang City, Heilongjiang ProvinceMr. Keshun Ou, 40, a farmer from Changde City, Hunan Province Mother of Teenager Brutally Beaten and Denied Medical Treatment, Dies After Prolonged AgonyLingxia Wu, 37, was from Shuangyashan City, Heilongjiang Province. The police arrested her on July 2, 2001 and submitted her to a harsh program of physical and mental torture. Over the course of a year, Ms. Wu's legs had swollen to more than twice their normal size, covered with ugly festering wounds. She had become nearly unrecognizable, and severely bloated from a liver condition resulting from her mistreatment. After denying Ms. Wu medical treatment and allowing her health to deteriorate slowly and painfully for more than a year, the police finally released her to escape responsibility for her death. Ms. Wu passed away on July 27, 2002, leaving behind a teenage son.Police Beat Man to Death after More Than Two Years of Illegal DetentionXiaochun Zhang was a railroad worker from Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province. Mr. Zhang was first arrested in January 2000 and sent to the Fuyu County Labor Camp. After detaining and physically abusing Mr. Zhang for two years without formally charging him with a crime, the prosecutor finally decided not to proceed with a trial in January 2002. Nevertheless, local authorities openly declared that they would continue to detain him, since Falun Gong "has nowhere to turn to appeal even if the extended detention is illegal," a labor camp official reportedly said. Mr. Zhang then began a hunger strike in protest. He was then subjected to escalated brutality and beatings. Ten days later, Xiaochun Zhang passed away.Police Torture Woman to the Verge of Death Twice, Then Shirk ResponsibilityXiangyun Deng, 39, a resident of Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province, was first arrested and detained in February 2001. After more than seven months of abuse by the police, Ms. Deng's health deteriorated to the point where she suffered from temporary blindness and lapsed in and out of a coma. In October, the police released her for fear of her dying while in custody. Six months later, the police resumed their persecution, once again arresting and detaining her. They subjected her to the same type of brutal torture as before, leading to another steep decline in her health. On August 1, 2002, Ms. Deng was released to her family a second time while on the verge of death. She passed away the very next day, survived by her 10 year-old son and elderly father.Former Leukemia Sufferer Beaten to Death by Police and Drug AbusersKeshun Ou, 40, a farmer from Changde City, Hunan Province, happily spoke to his friends and neighbors of being cured of his leukemia by practicing Falun Gong. On January 12, 2001, local police arrested and forced Mr. Ou into a drug rehabilitation center. A non-drug user, Mr. Ou was actually taken to the "rehabilitation center" to be subjected to brainwashing in order to force him to give up his practice of Falun Gong. The police subjected him to a series of brutal beatings, after which he was locked up with violent drug abusers, who battered him further. On January 18, only six days later, Keshun Ou passed away from his injuries.