NEW YORK, March 20, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) -- Two more Falun Gong practitioners died recently from torture and cruelty at the hands of Chinese authorities, bringing the total reported and verified since the beginning of the year to 53.One Year Sentence Extended to Two Years for Failure to Renounce Falun GongMr. Jia Jongfa, a 35-year-old worker at the Botanical Garden of the Hebei Forest Industry Bureau in Heilongjiang Province, was illegally arrested for appealing in Beijing for Falun Gong in June of 1999. Released briefly, he was again arrested and on November 3, 1999, he was sentenced to one year in a forced labor camp. Mr. Jia went on a hunger strike to protest his illegal detention and the brutality he experienced there. At the end of his sentence, camp officials told Mr. Jia that no one left the camp without first giving up Falun Gong. Since Jia refused to renounce his practice, his sentence was extended for another year. Toward the end of this time, Mr. Jia again went on hunger strike, this time continuing for twelve days. On October 12, 2001, when he had reached the verge of death, officials of the Xigemu Forced Labor camp in Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province informed his family and asked them to take him back home.Despite his poor health, however, the Hebei Public Security Bureau arrested Mr. Jia again twelve days later, torturing him brutally. Jia Jongfa appealed for his release with another five-day hunger strike. Seeing that he was about to die, the police ordered his relatives to take him back home. On November 29, Mr. Jia Jongfa passed away. \tSent Home from Forced Labor Camp With Breast CancerMs. Li Lanying from Chongqing City, Tongnan County, Sichuan Province, was sentenced to one year in a forced labor camp for peacefully and legally appealing in Beijing for Falun Gong. She was severely abused, mentally tormented to give up her practice of Falun Gong and forced to endure ten months of hard physical labor. She was released only when she began to suffer advanced symptoms of breast cancer. Upon returning home, Ms. Li was able to resume her daily practice of Falun Gong and to clarify the truth about the practice and the regime’s persecution of it to those around her. She was soon arrested again and roughed up by police, severely injuring her wrists and hands and leaving her unable to move. Li was taken for a physical examination where the doctor remarked at how incredible it was that her breast cancer scars had healed despite the fact that she’d not undergone hospital treatment. Ms. Li endured extreme conditions during her winter imprisonment and the scars from her breast cancer reopened. She died not long after.Background Falun 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 382 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.