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

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

In 2009, it remained common for the Chinese authorities to initially refuse to release a Falun Gong practitioner whose health had significantly deteriorated in detention due to torture or disease. As the individual’s situation worsened, the authorities would then release him or her near death in order to avoid the potential liability of the person having died in custody.

The practitioner typically died within days or months, as it was often too late for medical attention or renewed practice of the Falun Gong exercises to enable them to recuperate.

Mr. Zhu Hongbing, 43, Heilongjiang

In 2001, Zhu was sentenced to seven years in a prison camp following a sham trial. Throughout his time in Hongweixing Prison in Daqing, he was repeatedly beaten and tortured, requiring hospitalization on at least one occasion. Upon the end of his term in December 2008, the prison authorities refused to release him.

Zhu was eventually released on December 29, 2008. He never recovered from the torture, however, and died at home on June 18, 2009.  A photo of Zhu taken after his release from prison shows his emaciated body. [9]

Mr. Sun Xiaojun, 32, Zhejiang

On June 5, 2007, personnel from the Fuyang City 610 Office, the City Police Department and the Zhejiang Province Police Department abducted Mr. Sun from his workplace. He was later sentenced to four and a half years in a prison camp on January 17, 2008 for practicing Falun Gong. Prior to this, Sun had been detained at an RTL camp for two years.

After his health deteriorated due to torture, Sun was briefly released in April 2009, but then taken back into custody by police and held at the No. 6 People’s Hospital in Zhejiang.

He was finally released to his family on June 30, 2009, emaciated, bedridden, and unable to eat. He was delirious and experienced continual muscle cramps throughout his body. He died at 11:00 p.m. on July 15, 2009.

Ms. Hou Lihua, Heilongjiang

Ms. Hou’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. Hou Lihua, resident of Dongan District, Mudanjiang City, Heilongjiang Province: Hou Lihua was arrested at her workplace on 17 November 2008 and taken to the Mudanjiang City State Security unit. According to witnesses, she was beaten and otherwise ill-treated while in custody there. She was released in December 2008 but died on 14 February 2009 due to the injuries sustained in custody.” [10]


[9] Falun Dafa Information Center, “Urgent Appeal: Dozens of Lives at Risk in Daqing Prison as Authorities Systematically Starve Falun Gong Prisoners of Conscience,” August 3, 2009, /article/894/.

[10] Philip Alston, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,” May 29, 2009, A/HRC/11/2/Add.1, p.68.


Next Section: Key Pattern #5: Deaths due to denial of right to health while in detention