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.
A complete table of the names and available details surrounding these known cases is enclosed. The table was compiled from a variety of sources, including testimony of relatives or friends of the deceased, photographic evidence, and follow-up phone calls made by researchers to the relevant police or prison authorities. In total, since 1999, the Falun Dafa Information Center has documented the cases of 3,242 Falun Gong practitioners who have died as a result of various forms of persecution. Due to the secrecy surrounding such cases, the actual death toll is most likely much higher.
A large number of the deaths reported in 2008 occurred weeks, days, or hours after the Falun Gong adherent was detained, and frequently accompanied reports of torture in custody. The provinces of Liaoning and Heilongjiang were the deadliest for adherents, accounting together for 35 of the 104 documented cases. The following are a sample of particularly notable cases:
Mr. Yu Zhou, 42, a popular folk musician who was arrested on his way home from a concert in Beijing on January 26, 2008. Yu was killed after eleven days of detention at the Tongzhou District Detention Center, as detailed by the Times of London and Agence France Press, as well as reported to the United Nations by Amnesty International.
Amnesty International: “Recent examples of death in custody include Yu Zhou, a well-known folk singer, graduate of Beijing University, and reportedly a Falun Gong practitioner, who was arrested in Tongzhou District, Beijing, on 26 January 2008, along with his wife, Xu Na, a poet and painter. On 6 February 2008, the authorities notified the family to come to the Qinghe District Emergency Centre, where they learned that Yu Zhou had already died. A family member recounted how his body was covered by a white sheet, and only his eyes were visible. The family was told that Yu had died from either diabetes or from a hunger strike, although he had been perfectly healthy at the time of his arrest. The staff at the Emergency Centre refused the family’s request to view the body and for an autopsy to be performed, and the authorities refused to hand over Yu’s body to the family.”
See: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review
See also: The Sunday Times
Among those killed almost immediately after their initial arrest was Ms. Zong Xiuxia, age 55. According to sources inside China, on the morning of February 22, 2008, Zong was distributing literature about the persecution of Falun Gong in Weifang City, Shandong province, when she was reported to the police. At approximately 11:00 a.m. she was taken to Guangwen Police Station for interrogation. She was killed within hours of her arrest, and later that evening her family was notified to come down to the police station to identify and claim her body.
See: FDIC Press Release
Mr. Wang Guiming, age 38, of Changchun city, Jilin Province, was arrested on February 13, 2008, while discussing the persecution of Falun Gong with customers at his sweet potato stand. He was taken to the Xinzhan Police Station to be interrogated, and was subsequently transferred to the Chaoyanggou forced labor camp, where he was reportedly force-fed and shocked with electric batons. He died on February 29, 2008, 16 days after his arrest.
See: FDIC Press Release
Reuters: “Two members of banned Chinese spiritual sect Falun Gong were tortured and died in police custody in Shandong province in July, the group said. Zhong Zhenfu, 58, died of injuries sustained in police custody after being held along with others from Pingdu, in Shandong, since May, the group said in a statement. Liu Xiumei, a woman from Zhucheng, Shandong, was detained in July and died 17 days later, it said, without giving further details…Officials from Shandong province were not immediately available for comment.”
See: Reuters article and FDIC Press Release
Forced Organ Removal
Additional information pointing to systematic forced organ removal from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience emerged in 2008, particularly the prevalence of suspicious medical testing.
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has emerged indicating that Falun Gong prisoners of conscience have been killed so that their organs could be used in transplant operations. In addition to a significant increase in transplant procedures since the launch of the campaign against the group in 1999, recordings of Chinese doctors admitting to the use of Falun Gong organs in transplant operations are among the most compelling details that have raised concerns within medical and human rights circles. In 2006, an independent investigation by Canadians David Kilgour and David Matas concluded the allegations were true. In 2008, the following developments occurred with regards to this and other investigations into the issue:
Following a series of hearings, in July 2008, a special Israeli rabbinical council ruled that it believed the Chinese regime had been responsible for the killing of Falun Gong practitioners, perhaps because of material benefits derived from organ harvesting.
See: FDIC Press Release
In November 2008, the Weekly Standard, reported findings of research by author Ethan Gutmann, indicating that Falun Gong prisoners of conscience had been subjected to systematic and suspicious medical testing while in custody, strengthening concerns that they were targeted for forced organ removal. (full article)
Also in November, David Matas asserted in a submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) that the Chinese government had yet to provide information that would substantively contradict the pieces of evidence used in the 2006 report he co-authored which reached the conclusion that organs were harvested from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. (report)