Ms. Zhao Yanxia, 55, Jilin Province

Name: Zhao Yanxia (???)
Gender: Female
Age: 55
Occupation: Retired Environmental Protection Agency worker
Date of most Recent Arrest: May 31, 2011
Date of Most Recent Release: Died in custody
Most Recent Place of Detention: Jilin Province Women’s Prison (???????)
Date of Death: October 7, 2011
Province: Jilin
City: Siping
Address: Residential Area of Lishu Town Normal School, Lishu County, Siping City

Case Details:

Ms. Zhao Yanxia was abucted on May 31, 2011 while distributing Falun Gong informational materials. In September, she was sentenced after a sham trial to three and a half years in prison. Less than four weeks after being taken to Jilin Province Women’s prison (also known as Heizuizi Prison), she was beaten to death.

After police abducted Ms. Zhao off the street, they took her house keys and ransacked her home, taking her son’s computer and cell phone. When returning the keys to Ms. Zhao’s brother, one officer warned, “The Heizuizi Prison has no one who has not been transformed.”

Ms. Zhao remained in custody for nearly four months before being sentenced to three and a half years in prison. On September, 10 her family reportedly visited her at Siping Detention Center. She was in good health and good spirits, despite harassment and forced brainwashing sessions.

On September 14, Ms. Zhao was transferred to the Jilin Women’s Prison (Heizuizi Prison) without her family being notified. 23 days later, on October 7, Ms. Zhao was dead. Her family was notified around midnight, five hours after her reported time of death.

When Ms. Zhaos’ family arrived at the prison, police attempted to give different explanations for the cause of death. Two explanations was that it resulted from high blood pressure and that she died in her sleep; another that she had tried to commit suicide. Both are common false explanations that the authorities tell family members when a Falun Gong practitioner is killed in custody. With the help of a lawyer Ms. Zhao’s family was able to convince the authorities to allow them to view her body at the funeral parlor.  They found that her eyes were black and blue and her body was covered in bruises, indicating she had been beaten to death.

The lawyer also helped Ms. Zhao’s family pressure the authorities to enable a medical examiner to perform an autopsy. The results of this examination are not yet known.

Prior to her latest detention, Ms. Zhao had previously been sentenced twice to re-education through labor camps – once for one year, and again for three years.