Mr. Zeng Huaguo, 57, Hunan

Name: Mr. Zeng Huaguo (???)
Gender: Male
Age: 57
Date of Most Recent Arrest: August 19, 2010
Date of Most Recent Release: Died in custody
Date of Death: August 25, 2010
City: Shandong 
Province: Hunan
Most Recent Place of Detention: Songjiatang Industrial Zone Detention Center

Case details:

On August 19, 2010, agents of the Domestic Security Division in Hunan province’s Shaodong county detained 57-year-old Mr. Zeng Huaguo (???), a local appliance salesman. Within six days of Zeng’s detention—on August 25—he was dead, apparently beaten to death. Zeng’s son was able to view his body and saw a large cut on his back that had been sutured with 13 stitches.

Zeng’s detention on August 19 occurred when he visited the Domestic Security Division’s offices to request that his books on Falun Gong teachings be returned to him. The authorities had confiscated the books in June when a plainclothes police officer abducted Zeng off the street. Zeng had spoken to the man about Falun Gong and encouraged him not to believe the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda about the group, thinking the man was an ordinary passer-by.

The officer immediately detained Zeng, taking him to the Songjiatang Industrial Zone Detention Center. Meanwhile, officers broke into his home at 11am, ransacked it, and confiscated his Falun Gong-related books. Zeng was released ten days later, but only after his son-in-law agreed to sign a statement in his name condemning Falun Gong and promising he would stop practicing.

According to sources inside China, upon being injured during his second detention, Zeng was taken to a local hospital but died shortly after arrival. Police failed to notify his family of his death until 24 hours later, although they did reportedly inform the local neighborhood committee to take measures to restrict the news of Zeng’s sudden death in custody from circulating. They apparently feared a public outcry as Zeng was fairly well-known in his community, Jiadiancheng, partly because of the noticeable physical and psychological improvements he experienced after taking up Falun Gong in 2007. 

Police told Zeng’s son he had died from “jumping off a building at the hospital.” When the son asked to see footage from the hospital’s security camera confirming the officials’ account, they became flustered and claimed that the camera had not yet been set-up. Instead, they reportedly threatened hospital staff and Zeng’s family not to spread information about his death, including offering the family 260,000 yuan ($38,000) for their silence.