NEW YORK (FDI) – In Shandong province, home to the 2008 Olympics sailing competition, two Falun Gong practitioners were tortured to death before the Games. Mr. Zhong Zhenfu (钟振福) from Pingdu city died July 20, and Ms. Liu Xiumei (刘秀梅) of Zhucheng city died July 27, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony, according to reports received by the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Ms. Liu Xiumei - According to sources in Shandong province’s Zhucheng city, local police escalated the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in the months before the Olympics. State-supervised neighborhood watch groups have been forced to closely monitor Falun Gong practitioners. Local officials must submit daily reports about each practitioner under surveillance and search after any practitioners who have disappeared.
Over 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested in roundups during the months leading up to the Olympics (article).
In July 10, police station chief Ding Bofeng searched Ms. Liu Xiumei’s home in Guanzhuandian village without providing any legal documents, sources say. Ms. Liu was detained and held in the Zhucheng City Detention Center.
When Liu’s family went to the Zhucheng City Police Department to inquire about her situation, they were told she was fine and would be released in a few days. But, on July 27, Liu’s husband received notification that his wife had died in detention - only 17 days after her arrest.
Liu’s body is being stored in the Zhucheng City Funeral Home. Details surrounding her death have not yet been confirmed.
Mr. Zhong Zhenfu, 58 - At approximately 6:00 p.m. on May 4, 2008, policemen and officers from Pingdu city’s 6-10 Office (about 6-10 Office) began searching Falun Gong practitioners’ houses. Police believed these were hideouts where practitioners were producing leaflets and VCDs about human rights abuses. They confiscated books, printers, satellite dishes and other electronic equipment.
Without warrant, the officers arrested three practitioners - Ms. Xu Aifang, Mr. Wang Yunchong and Mr. Zhong Zhenfu. That night, the practitioners’ arms and legs were strapped to “iron chairs” and they were interrogated.
Sources inside China say that after three days the practitioners were taken to the Pingdu City Detention Center, where guards shackled Mr. Zhong and beat his head with metal wires. He was then detained in a metal cage. When the guards tried to force him to curse at the founder of Falun Gong Mr. Zhong refused. He was then beaten for an hour with metal wires. When the guards finally stopped, Mr. Zhong was injured to the point that he was unable to stand.
Sources reported that the guards then sent Mr. Zhong to a hospital, where a doctor said his injuries were very severe. To avoid assuming any responsibility for his critical condition, detention center officials released him on medical parole. During the month-plus period that Mr. Zhong was in the hospital, he had to pay for his own medical expenses, totaling over 10,000 yuan ($1,500 US).
Unable to recover from the torture, Mr. Zhong died on July 20, 2008, exactly nine years after the persecution of Falun Gong began.
Mr. Zhong Zhenfu’s background: Mr. Zhong and his wife, Zhong Shuhua (56), lived in Zhongjia village, Changle town, Pingdu city in Shandong province. They began practicing Falun Gong in 1997. But after 1999, when the Chinese Communist Party began a nationwide campaign of persecution targeting Falun Gong practitioners, the couple was repeatedly arrested. Without ever showing a warrant, police searched their home over 50 times and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of possessions. In 2004, when Mrs. Zhong was sentenced to three years in a labor camp, Mr. Zhong fled his home to avoid further arrest.
“We call upon the international community, while they are in China for the Olympics, to use every resource available to investigate the facts for themselves,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Ms. Gail Rachlin. “This persecution must end.”