Friday, 12-Apr-2002 6:20AM Story from AFP
BEIJING, April 12 (AFP) - Five [practitioners] of China's banned Falun Gong spiritual group have died during or shortly after police detention, the group's New York headquarters said Friday.
A security official from southwestern Chengdu University confirmed the Falun Gong report that one of the victims was Zhang Chuansheng, a 54-year-old associate professor who taught at the educational institution.
The official said Zhang was arrested on February 11 but released shortly after because he suffered a heart attack while in custody. He died on February 14.
But the Falun Gong headquarters' report quoted Zhang's relatives who inspected his body as saying his face was swollen and bruised, his mouth was bloody and his neck had a strangle mark.
The official said Zhang was arrested because he defied an order for all "stubborn" Falun Gong members in Chengdu to stay in the city during the recent Chinese New Year holiday.
Police are on high alert during holiday periods against Falun Gong protests and have been known to roundup practitioners ahead of time or closely monitor them.
The official said Zhang emptied his bank account and went to his mother-in-law's house in a nearby city, where university and Chengdu police tracked him down and arrested him.
He said authorities had to inject Zhang with "nutrition" because he went on a hunger strike, and he then suffered the heart attack.
According to Falun Gong headquarters, three elderly [practitioners] of the group from Handan city, Hebei province, also died under suspicious circumstances.
Chen Yuqing, 61, was arrested for protesting against the government's [persecution] on Falun Gong [practitioners] in Beijing during the National Day holiday on October 1, 2000. He died 18 days later, the group said.
The Falun Gong report, quoting other group [practitioners] locked up in the same jail, Handan No. 1 Detention Center, said police beat Chen so badly he vomited blood.
An employee at the jail told AFP he heard Chen had died there, but said he could not say anymore.
The two other elderly practitioners, who lived on the same street in Handan, both died shortly after being released from jail, the group said.
Zhai Liansheng, 60, was detained for going to Beijing to protest in October. He was tortured in jail which caused him to lose his ability to eat regularly and become increasingly ill.
Zhou Zhenjie, 68 was detained in August after police found pictures of Falun Gong's founder, New York-based Li Hongzhi, during a house search. He was detained for three months. The cause of death is unclear, the group said.
In another case, the group said Falun Gong practitioner Fan Lihong, from northwestern China's Qinghai province, was found dead in Qinghai People's Park in December after being released from a mental hospital.
The group claimed Fan was force-fed mind-altering drugs which caused her to occasionally fall into trances, even after she was released from the hospital.
The cause of death could not be verified.
Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government in 1999 [...].
The government has since persisted in a relentless campaign to crush the group, which human rights groups have said has led to tens of thousands of followers being sent to labor camps or jailed for long prison terms.
The group claims 397 members have died due to police abuse.