Key Pattern #3: Approximately one-third of deaths occurred in custody

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

In 35 of the 109 cases recorded during the year, the victim died in custody of the Chinese authorities, either in a prison, RTL camp, “brainwashing” center, or detention center. In several cases, family members were able to view the adherents’ body and reported visible signs of torture.

Mr. Lu Zhen, 33, Shandong

After being expelled from Chongqing University for peacefully protesting the persecution against Falun Gong and spending one year in a labor camp, Lu was “sentenced” in 2004 to 11 years in a prison camp.

On the morning of June 22, 2009, Lu’s family was informed that he had died from a heart attack. His body was stored at Shandong University’s Medical School Hospital.

An autopsy carried out on June 30 upon his family’s request found that he had suffered severe physical trauma prior to his death. It found that blood had accumulated in his chest, and that while his buttocks and the backs of his thighs seemed fine on the surface, the muscles under the skin showed severe signs of trauma, pointing to beatings with rubber batons. Sources inside China who were able to view his body reported that his neck and stomach were covered with bruises.

Ms. Wang Guifeng, 55, Beijing

Ms. Wang had practiced Falun Gong since 1995. On April 15, 2009, personnel from the Changping Police Department, the Domestic Security Division, the Machikou Police Station, and the local neighborhood Party committee abducted her from home while she was cooking.

She was taken to Chaofeng’an brainwashing center and unlawfully detained her there. She was tortured while at the center and reportedly died in custody on June 2, 2009.

Ms. Sun Aimei, 60, Shandong Province

Ms. Sun’s case of death in custody was included in a joint appeal submitted to the Chinese government by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-judical Executions requesting additional information. As of May 2009, when the Rapporteur’s annual report was published, he had yet to receive a reply from the Chinese authorities:

“Ms. Sun Aimei, resident of Xinhua Village, Zhucheng City, Shandong Province: Sun Aimei, aged about 60, was sentenced to detention at the Wangcun Women’s Forced Labour Camp on 28 March 2008, three days after being arrested for distributing literature about the persecution of Falun Gong. At the end of 2008, her family was informed that she had suffered a stroke and had undergone surgery. They were not, however, allowed to see her. On 1 February 2009, Ms. Sun’s family was told to go to Wangcun Women’s Forced Labour Camp to collect her ashes.” [8] 


[8] Philip Alston, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,” May 29, 2009, A/HRC/11/2/Add.1, p.67.  


Next Section: Key Pattern #4: Many deaths occurred shortly after release due to torture in custody