Key Pattern #6: Authorities consistently seek to cover-up Falun Gong deaths

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

A healthy Mr. Xie Deqing prior to his arrest

A healthy Mr. Xie Deqing prior to his arrest

Following a Falun Gong practitioner’s death, particularly in custody, the authorities frequently go to great lengths to cover-up the circumstances surrounding the person’s death and thwart investigations into its cause.

Among the tactics recorded in 2009 were: threatening family members not to publicize their loved one’s death, forcing relatives to approve cremation in order to destroy evidence of abuse, detaining family members pursuing information or compensation, physically “stealing” the body back from the family, and beating lawyers trying to investigate.

Such actions are precisely contrary to China’s commitments under international law as a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, as highlighted in the 2009 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings.

Mr. Xie Deqing, 69, Sichuan

On April 29, 2009, Xie Deqing and his wife attempted to sit in the audience at the show trial of another Falun Gong practitioner (Chen Changyuan) held at Gaoxin District Court. They were immediately detained by officials from the security division of their former employer, the Chengdu Hydroelectric Investigation and Design Institute, and officers from Funan Police Station.

Xie was taken to the “Chengdu Legal Education Center,” also known as the Xinjin Brainwashing Center. During the approximately 20 days he was held there, Xie suffered severe physical abuse and emerged emaciated, incontinent, and unable to eat.

He was released unconscious on May 23, 2009 and remained in such a state for four days. He woke up briefly, complaining of excruciating chest pain and reporting he had been injected with an unidentified substance at the center, then died at 10:15 p.m. on May 27, 2009.

Shortly after his death, over 100 riot police descended upon the funeral hall and took his body back from his family, beating two of his sons in the process. On May 30, 2009, his sons were forced to sign the paperwork permitting the cremation of Xie’s body.

 

 

Jiang Xiqing, 66, Chongqing

Mr. Jiang and his wife were detained in mid-2008 and then sentenced to RTL. On January 28, 2009, Jiang’s family was informed that he had died in custody. Jiang’s case was widely reported upon after two lawyers who sought to assist his family were themselves detained and beaten.

As described by Human Rights in China in a May 13, 2009 report [11]:

“Zhang Kai is a lawyer with Beijing Yijia Law Firm and Li Chunfu is a lawyer at Beijing Globe Law Firm. On the afternoon of May 13, they met with relatives of Jiang Xiqing at their home in Jiangjin District, Chongqing to discuss Jiang’s death while serving a Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) sentence.

Jiang Xiqing, 66, was arrested by the police on May 14, 2008, and sentenced to one year of RTL for practicing Falun Gong. On January 28, 2009, the Chongqing Xishanping Reeducation Center informed Jiang’s family that Jiang had died of a heart attack. He was then cremated without consent by his family.

Sources inside China informed HRIC that around 4 p.m. on the afternoon of May 13, four policemen came to the home of Jiang’s relatives… They started to interrogate the lawyers…Soon afterwards, about 20 more people from the state security unit of the Jiangjin District Public Security Bureau and Jijiang Police Substation also arrived. Jiangjin State Security squadron leader Mu Chaoheng asked Jiang Xiqing’s relatives, ‘Who told you to hire lawyers? Your dad died a natural death.’

The police surrounded Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu and began pulling their hair, twisting their arms, tripping them, and beating them while pinning them on the ground. The police then handcuffed them and hauled them into their vehicle. They also took away Jiang Xiqing’s son, Jiang Hongbin.

After arriving at the police station, Zhang Kai was hung up with handcuffs in an iron cage and Li Chunfu was slapped in the face by the police. During the interrogation, the police threatened the lawyer to stop defending Falun Gong cases. When the lawyers argued that everyone had a right to legal counsel, the police said: You absolutely cannot defend Falun Gong; this is the situation in China.”  

Mr. Jiang’s daughter, Ms. Jiang Hong, 41, was subsequently detained on August 28, 2009 for pursuing avenues of investigation and redress over her fathers untimely death.

Notes:

[11] Human Rights in China, “Beijing Lawyers Beaten for Representing Falun Gong Case,” May 13, 2009, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/press?revision_id=164835&item_id=164831



Next Section: Falun Gong Deaths Cited in 2009 Annual Report of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions