38-year-old Activist Dies From Abuse in Chinese Custody Within Weeks of Arrest
01 Jul 2008
NEW YORK -- The Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI) has learned that a 38-year-old resident of Liaoning Province died in April less than three weeks after being taken into police custody for disseminating information about Falun Gong.
Mr. Zhao Shouzhu of Xinmin city was the third Falun Gong adherent to die from police abuse in Liaoning province during the month of April and the fifth this year. His death marks the 3,150th Falun Gong adherent confirmed to have died as a result of persecution by the authorities since 1999.
"What has happened in April shows that Liaoning continues to be a deadly province for Falun Gong practitioners," says FDI spokesperson Ms. Gail Rachlin. "Mr. Zhao's death is also further example of the human suffering behind the Olympic Games as the Chinese authorities escalate the campaign against Falun Gong."
According to sources within China, on the evening of March 31, 2008, Mr. Zhao was arrested for distributing literature about the persecution of Falun Gong. He was handed over to the Public Security Bureau, which detained him at the Xinmin City DetentionCenter without due legal process.
He subsequently began a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. The Xinmin City Public Security Bureau then ordered that he be violently force-fed and injected with unidentified drugs.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing Mr. Zhao on April 7 at Xinmin City hospital, his arms hanging limply by his side as he took labored breaths. The forced-feeding is believed to have punctured his internal organs, leaving him in critical condition, a phenomenon known to have occurred in hundreds of other cases of Falun Gong adherents.
Mr. Zhao was then transferred to a hospital affiliated with the China Medical University in Shenyang, where he stayed until his death in mid-April. The most recent information available indicates that his body remains at the hospital.
Sources familiar with the case say that the Public Security Bureau and other authorities have blocked all information surrounding Mr. Zhao's death. Sources further state that in order to deflect blame for his death, the authorities initially claimed that Mr. Zhao died after enduring beatings from cellmates.
Mr. Zhao's family has had their demands for an autopsy, an official investigation and compensation denied, with the police currently claiming that he died of a hunger strike and thus that no autopsy need be performed to determine cause of death. The family has been unable to secure legal representation, as Chinese lawyers are officially forbidden from taking Falun Gong-related cases and those who choose to do so face intimidation, disbarring, and detention.
The FDI is calling on foreign media and other independent bodies to investigate the circumstances surrounding Zhao's death with necessary diligenceï¿½"including the potential complicity of staff at Xinmin City Hospital and China Medical University. This is particularly important given the authorities' attempts to cover up or distort facts surrounding this and similar cases.