Key Pattern #2: Nearly one third of the victims were detained during pre-Olympic round-ups

Killed for their belief: Falun Gong Deaths from Abuse in 2009

In a six-month period leading up to the Olympics, the Chinese authorities detained over 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners. Many were abducted from their home or workplace and subsequently sentenced to “re-education through labor” (RTL) or prison camps (report).

The authorities sought to justify the detentions and imprisonments under the banner of ensuring “Olympic security.” However, the combination of Falun Gong practitioners posing no threat to the Games and the long-term punishments meted out to those detained suggests that the Communist Party’s aim was rather to take advantage of the cover provided by hosting an international event to advance its pre-existing, decade-long agenda to eradicate Falun Gong.

Whatever the motivation behind the round-ups, 34 of the practitioners who died in 2009 were detained during the year and a half leading up to the Beijing Olympics or while the Games themselves were taking place (i.e. between January 2007 and August 2008).


Dr. Gong Hui, 57, Tianjin

Ms. Gong had been detained by police on August 13, 2008 and then sentenced to Banqiao “re-education through labor” camp, where she was beaten, tortured, and kept in solitary confinement.

On November 9, 2008, Ms. Gong was reportedly subjected to a particularly harsh session of torture, lasting from 9:00am until 11:00pm and resulting in her near physical collapse. Within three months of being detained at the camp, Ms. Gong had become emaciated, sickly, and had difficulty speaking. Ignoring calls for her release by family members, the camp continued to detain Ms. Gong despite her deteriorating condition.

She was finally allowed to return home after completing the 15-month sentence she had originally been given. Unable to recover from the torture suffered in custody, she died on December 4, 2009, slightly more than three weeks after her release.[6]


Ms. Wang Hongxia, 47, Shandong

On July 9, 2008, between 30 and 40 security forces abducted Ms. Wang and her husband, Mr. Jiang Zhenbo, from their home in Weifang in advance of the Beijing Olympics.

On August 8th, the opening day of the Olympics, Ms. Wang was taken to Shandong Province Second Women’s “Re-education Through Labor” Camp, where she was routinely beaten, tortured, forced into brainwashing sessions, and deprived of sleep.  As a result of persistent beatings, she soon developed large, festering welts on her breasts and armpits. She was denied access to the bathroom or showers.

On Sept 24, 2008, Ms. Wang was transferred to the First Women’s “Re-education Through Labor” Camp in Jinan. There, she was forced to perform forced labor, and was also subjected to forced conversion sessions and torture. She was denied medial treatment at the camp, and was released on January 9, 2009. 

Upon her release, Ms. Wang’s family took her to the Weifang City Hospital, but she never recovered from her injuries and died on September 15, 2009.

As noted by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Weifang has long been the site of deadly and sustained persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, a pattern which has continued past the Olympics:

“In November 2008, the People’s Daily reported that the Communist Party Secretary of Weifang municipality in Shandong province—a city where police tortured at least 12 Falun Gong practitioners to death in 2000 and where more than 60,000 were estimated to reside before the ban—urged Party cadres not to relent in the crackdown: ‘we must not loosen our hold on the struggle with ‘Falun Gong’ in the slightest way. [Officials] at all levels must firmly grasp the objectives, go a step further to intensify measures, increase the force . . . make great efforts to carry out deep strikes against ‘Falun Gong’ . . . [and] maintain a state of high pressure from the beginning to end.’” [7]


[6] Falun Dafa Information Center, “Olympics Prisoner Dies from Torture Shortly after Release from Labor Camp,” January 4, 2010, /article/946/ 

[7] Congressional-Executive Commission on China, “2009 Annual Report,” p. 120.; A comprehensive compilation of Falun Gong-related excerpts from the report is available at: /article/917/.


Next Section: Key Pattern #3: Over one-third of deaths occurred in custody