- BEIJING (Agence France Presse)
- A woman who refused to stop practicing the banned Chinese sect Falungong
has been beaten to death while in police custody, according to a report
posted on the group's Internet website.
- Zhao Jinhua, 42, died on October 7 at a police station
in the town of Zhangxing in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong.
- A police spokesman in Zhangxing confirmed Zhao's death
but declined to comment on the cause, which he said was under investigation.
- "It's not clear how she died," said the officer
who identified himself only by his surname Zhang. "We didn't arrest
her, We just brought her in for education."
- However, an Internet report filed by a Falungong investigator
who traveled to the town recently said Zhao had been tortured to death.
- "She was tortured at least with police electric
clubs and rubber clubs and electrified with old-style rotary telephones,"
wrote the Chinese investigator, whose name was withheld for his own protection.
- "The police repeatedly asked if she would continue
to practice Falungong and she always answered 'yes.' Her skin was broken
all over her body except on her face."
- The investigator had recently been to the village of
Zhaojia where Zhao lived, New York-based Falungong spokeswoman Gail Rachlin
told AFP by e-mail.
- The man spoke to Zhao's brother and was told by the brother
that an autopsy report showed Zhao died from blunt trauma and had deposited
blood covering a large part of her body.
- Zhao, a farmer who began practicing Falungong in 1995,
was arrested on September 27 while she was working in the fields.
- Her family was not allowed to see her until October 8
when they were called into the police station and told of her death.
- They found her body covered with bruises. Police warned
Zhao's family members to not discuss her death and cremated her body the
- Zhao's brother told the Falungong investigator he was
afraid of speaking further for fear of retaliation. ((c) 1999 Agence France