Police Covering Up Falun Gong Death in Custody at Top Tourist Attraction
New York—Security forces in Fujian and Hubei province are seeking to cover-up the death of a Falun Gong practitioner who was killed in custody last month two days after being detained while on a field trip with his workplace. They have reportedly arrested his family members, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.
Mr. Fu Ziming (???) died in custody on April 19, two days after being detained by police in the vicinity of Wuyi Mountain Scenic Area of Fujian Province, a popular tourist destination in southeast China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fu had traveled to the area as part of a group from the post office where he worked in his hometown of Jianli County in Hubei Province.
On April 17, while visiting the Mt. Wuyi area, Fu wrote in crayon on a rock “Falun Dafa is good; Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance is good.” With Falun Gong being a permanent taboo in China’s tightly controlled media environment, it is a common phenomenon for adherents to counter dehumanizing party propaganda by writing such expressions on a wall, banner, or homemade poster.
Fu’s actions were apparently recorded by a nearby surveillance camera and that evening, he was taken from his hotel by agents from the management department of the local police station operating under Wuyi Police Department. Two days later, he had died, reportedly from torture.
“What kind of regime arrests and kills a man for writing that Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance are good? It is horrific that such a peaceful act of free expression and belief has cost an innocent man his life,” says Falun Gong spokesperson Gail Rachlin.
“Mr. Fu’s case is a startling reminder of the life threatening danger Falun Gong practitioners face as soon as they are arrested, as well as the hazard that China’s pervasive surveillance system poses for innocent Chinese citizens.”
Since his death, security agencies – including the Public Security Bureau and the extra-legal 610 Office – in both Wuyi and Jianli have taken measures to cover-up the incident. According to recent media reports and interviews with people close to the case, the authorities have denied his death or sought to portray it as the result of a train accident (report).
One person at the police station in Jianli admitted briefly to a reporter that Fu’s corpse was in police custody. However, the individual hung up when probed about further details regarding the case, particularly about Fu’s family (report).
The authorities have meanwhile pressured the colleagues who traveled with Fu to Fujian to remain silent about the circumstances surrounding his death.
“We don’t know where his corpse is,” a co-worker told a reporter from the Chinese-language Epoch Times. “However, it’s impossible that it will be transported back here. It has been cremated out somewhere [else]. My heart feels very bad [about Fu’s death].”
In a further effort to limit publicity, authorities in Jianli county also recently arrested his father and other family members. Fu’s father was reportedly taken into custody on April 23 and the remainder of his family the following day. They have since lost contact with the outside world and there exact whereabouts remain unknown.
The Falun Dafa Information Center urges human rights groups and foreign media in China to investigate Fu’s death and the current location of his family members.
The Falun Dafa Information Center received reports of 104 Falun Gong deaths between January and December 2008, resulting from severe abuse in police custody or other forms of persecution. During the 16 days of the Olympics alone, ten Falun Gong adherents are confirmed to have died from abuse in custody (report). In several cases – the most prominent one being Beijing musician Yu Zhou – practitioners died in custody within days or weeks of their detention (news).
Efforts to cover-up the deaths of adherents or to fabricate circumstances surrounding such cases are common. Last week two lawyers seeking to investigate the death of a Falun Gong adherent in a labor camp were detained and beaten (news). Cover-ups are especially known to happen in instances that might otherwise draw public attention, given the suddenness of Fu’s death and the large number of acquaintances familiar with the case.
A selection of relevant phone numbers:
Wuyi Mountain Scenic Administration District Police Station: 86-599-5252283
Jianli County Committee: 86-716-3262383
Jianli County Politics and Law Committee: 86-716-3320550
Pan Ke, Director of the Jianli County 610 Office: 86-716-3322942
Jiang Changhong, Associate Director of the Jianli County 610 Office: 86-13339749209
National Security Team of Jianli County Police Department: 86-716-3322333
Fu Yuecheng, Chief of the national security team: 86-13872240188
Hubei Province 610 Office: 86-27-87233234
Huang Zhaolin, Director of the Hubei Province 610 Office: 86-27-87233496(Office), 86-27-87133985, 86-27-87234738(Home)