NEW YORK, April 11, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) - Just days before Amnesty International released a report this week naming China as the world's leading "executioner," reports of the deaths of five people who practice Falun Gong have recently been verified. These cases are:Zhang Chuansheng, 54 year-old male, Associate Professor at Chengdu UniversityFan Lihong, female, from Qinghai ProvinceChen Yuqing, 61 year-old man from Lianfanglu Road, Handan City, Hebei ProvinceZhai Liansheng, 60 year-old man from Siqingjie Street, Handan City, Hebei ProvinceZhou Zhenjie, 68 year-old man, also from Siqingjie Street, Handan City, Hebei Province.Associate Professor at Chengdu University Strangled to Death in Police CustodyAccording to sources in China familiar with his case, Zhang Chuansheng started practicing Falun Gong in 1996. After the persecution began in 1999, he did not practice or protest in public, these sources say. He did, however, speak to friends and colleagues who misunderstood Falun Gong about how he had benefited from it and felt that it was quite good.Although he practiced only at home, "the local police frequently harassed him," those close to him say.Shortly before the 2002 Chinese New Year (February 12th), Zhang returned to his hometown, Ya'an, to spend the Spring Festival with his wife and six year old daughter. On the eve of the Spring Festival - traditionally a night of family celebration - officials from Chengdu Sima Police Station and Chengdu University went to Ya'an and arrested Zhang, saying that they would release him in 24 hours. Instead, he was charged with "obstruction of justice" and held in the Chengdu Detention Center indefinitely.Just a few days later, at 11 p.m. on February 16th, Zhang's relatives received notice that he had died of a heart attack at 9 a.m. on February 15th. Inspection of the body, however, told a different story.Zhang's family reports that his face was swollen and colored black, white, green and purple. His mouth was bloody and his neck showed a two-finger-wide blue and purple strangle mark. According to Zhang's family, the police threatened that all of Zhang's family would be in danger if they revealed Zhang's death to the outside world.Although Zhang's arrest appears arbitrary, it is common practice for Chinese police to detain those known to practice Falun Gong before national holidays to prevent them from making public appeals. It is also common for Chinese police to be given quotas by their superiors for the number of Falun Gong practitioners they must arrest, which has lead to numerous reports of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.Woman Found Dead in a Public Park After Detention in Labor CampFan Lihong, was detained in Qinghai Province Female Forced Labor Camp because she refused to give up her practice of Falun Gong, according to sources in China. Unsuccessful in their on-going attempts to force Fan Lihong to renounce Falun Gong, these sources say, labor camp officials sent Fan to a mental hospital on May 6, 2001 where she was reportedly force-fed her with mind-altering drugs by Police and hospital workers. Fan was taken back and forth from the labor camp to the mental hospital several times as part of a physical and mental punishment used in their attempts to have her renounce her faith.The drugs reportedly caused Fan to lose her appetite and occasionally fall into trances, even after she was released from the mental hospital. Then, in December 2001, she was mysteriously found dead in Qinghai People's Park. The Falun Dafa Information Center was not able to verify the exact cause of death from Chinese officials.Three Senior Citizens From Handan City Die In or Soon After Police Detention Chen Yuqing, 61, lived on Lianfanglu Road in Handan City, Hebei Province. Police held him at the No. 1 Detention Center because he had gone to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong on Oct. 1 2000. Beaten by police, he began to vomit blood and had developed a persistent cough. The warden paid no attention at all, despite receiving several reports of Chen's declining health. Chen Yuqing died on Oct. 18, 2000. Police told other practitioners in the detention center that Chen's life had been saved and that he had been sent home to recover. It was later learned, however, that Chen was secretly cremated. Typical of many such cases, the information blockade regarding news of Falun Gong practitioners has prevented this case from reaching the outside world until now.Zhai Liansheng, 60, was one of the first people to practice Falun Dafa in the Chenganxian County area of Handan City. He lived on Siqingjie Street, as did his fellow practitioner Shou Zhenjie, 68. Zhai went to Beijing to make a peaceful appeal for Falun Gong in October 2001 and was detained for seven months, during which time police brutally tortured him. He lost his ability to eat regularly and became increasingly ill. After demanding payment of 1200 Yuan, police released Zhai to his family. He passed away soon after.Police conducted an illegal search of the home of Zhou Zhenjie in August 2001, finding photographs of Falun Gong's founder, Li Hongzhi. Zhou was, therefore, detained for three months. After paying 2000 Yuan for Zhou's release, his family was able to take him home. He, too, passed away soon after. The cause of his apparently sudden death is still under investigation.BackgroundFalun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a practice of meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principle of "Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance." It is a practice that was taught in private for thousands of years before being made public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong has roots in traditional Chinese culture, but it is distinct and separate from other practices in China, such as the religions of Buddhism and Taoism. Since its introduction in 1992, it quickly spread by word of mouth throughout China, and is now practiced in over 50 countries.With government estimates of as many as 100 million practicing Falun Gong, China's President Jiang Zemin outlawed the peaceful practice in July 1999, fearful of anything touching the hearts and minds of more citizens than the Communist Party. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced improved health and positive life changes from Falun Gong, Jiang's regime has intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while quietly imprisoning, torturing and even murdering those who practice it.The Falun Dafa Information Center has verified details of over 397 deaths since the persecution of Falun Gong in China began in 1999. Government officials inside China, however, report that the actual death toll is well over 1,600. Over 100,000 have been detained, with more than 20,000 being sentenced to forced labor camps without trial.