December 6, 2003, Saturday

Reported by Falun Dafa Information Centre web site on 3 December

One hundred and thirty-two deaths of Falun Gong practitioners in Heilongjiang Province have been verified since the spiritual practice was ordered "eradicated" by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in 1999. Of the 824 total verified deaths of Falun Gong practitioners throughout the country, China's most northeastern province, Heilongjiang, accounts for approximately 16 per cent - the highest of any province.

Hundreds of reports from China over the last four years indicate arbitrary detention, brainwashing and torture are wide-spread in Heilongjiang.

Heilongjiang's former communist party secretary, Xiu Youfang, and former Governor, Tian Fengshan, are known to have taken a hard-line approach in adopting Jiang's persecutory policies toward Falun Gong, according to Heilongjiang sources. Both officials have since been removed from their posts on apparently unrelated corruption charges.

The next highest death tolls are found in Heilongjiang's neighboring provinces of Jilin and Liaoning, each of which account for 11 per cent of the total verified deaths.

Shandong Province has also recorded 11 per cent of the total verified deaths, with Hebei Province at 10 per cent and Beijing at 7 per cent.

Approximately 75 per cent of the total verified deaths were caused by torture and/or severe beatings, while 10 per cent were due to forced-feeding. The remaining cases include mysterious circumstances where individuals die in mental hospitals after being injected with unknown drugs or mysteriously "fall" from the upper floors of buildings while in police custody.

Some Chinese government sources indicate the true death toll could be between 4,000 and 10,000.

Two recent deaths in Heilongjiang: Fifty-three-year-old Ms Liu Tongling lived in Chengsan village of Rang District in Daqing city. On 12 September, 2003, Liu was detained at the Harbin City Drug Rehabilitation Centre after authorities discovered she practiced Falun Gong. Such "rehabilitation centers" are often, in reality, used to detain, torture, and hold brainwashing "classes" for Falun Gong practitioners. One month later, on 12 October, Liu died in the Rehabilitation Center.

Sources familiar with this case say Liu was tortured continuously until two days before her death. Liu's family, who examined her body, said it was covered with bruises and there were electric burn marks on her chest. Electric shock batons, also known as cattle prods are a common torture tool of the Chinese police.

Sixty-six-year-old Mr Li Ruqing was a retired worker from the Shangyashan City Mine Bureau of Heilongjiang Province. On 7 October, 2002, he was arrested while distributing flyers about Falun Gong. Li was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison and sent to the Mudanjiang Prison. On 9 October, 2003, Li was tortured to death in the prison and his body was cremated shortly thereafter.