NEW YORK (FDI) –A painter from Hunan province, arrested in a nationwide pre-Olympic roundup of Falun Gong adherents, died the day before the opening ceremonies from injuries incurred in custody. Detained in March, an emaciated Mr. Hu Heping (胡和平) from Yueyang city died August 7, 2008 according to recent reports received by The Falun Dafa Information Center. He was 55 years old.
According to sources in Hunan, Hu was arrested from his home without a warrant on the morning of March 18, 2008. He was detained by a local police officer by the name of Lu Ran, accompanied by two members of state-sponsored community watch groups, Li Yongfei and Zhang Yifei.
Over 8,000 other Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested in similar roundups during the months leading up to the Olympics. (news)
“Hu’s case is typical of the pattern of arrests and abuse in custody we’ve seen in the run-up to the Olympics,” says Erping Zhang, Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson. “While the world was preparing to watch the opening ceremonies, this man who was healthy in March was dying in his bed because of vicious treatment meted out by Chinese police.”
On the day of his arrest, Hu was reportedly taken to Dongtingguan Hotel, where he was interrogated for 24 hours, and then transferred to Yueyang City’s No.1 Detention Center.
According to sources inside China, Hu was tortured while in police custody, causing serious injuries to his internal organs and swelling to his feet and legs. He was seen coughing constantly, while his weight dropped from 120 pounds to 90 pounds. During his detention, Hu’s family was denied access to visit him by agents of the State Security Bureau and the 6-10 Office, an extralegal taskforce with the mandate to oversee the handling of Falun Gong cases.
Nearly three months after his arrest, on June 16, 2008, Hu was taken to Yueyang No. 1 People’s Hospital for treatment, where doctors found his internal organs severely injured and diagnosed him as suffering from liver damage. Fearing Hu would die in custody, the detention center authorities contacted his family on June 17 and released him into their custody the following day, though only after they made a payment to the police. By this time, however, Hu was already extremely weak. His abdomen and lower body were severely swollen, a symptom known to occur in those suffering from severe liver damage, and he had difficulty walking. Unable to recover from his injuries, he died on the morning August 7, 2008.
Prior Accounts of Persecution
According to sources close to Hu, he became a practitioner in 1997. In 1999 and 2000, Hu went to Beijing twice to appeal against the persecution of Falun Gong. On both occasions, he was detained for a total of 75 days at Hubin Detention Center.
On March 12, 2003, Hu was illegally arrested and sentenced without a trial to two years of forced labor. During his internment at Xinkaipu “re-education through labor” camp, he was reportedly deprive of sleep and injected with unknown substances for refusing to give up his spiritual beliefs. He was released at the end of 2004.