Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom today issued an urgent appeal to the U.S. State Department to protest China's increasing brutality toward religious prisoners.
Reports received by Freedom House in recent days indicate that five Falun Gong members have died while in Chinese custody and that a Christian Pastor is comatose and near death after repeated severe beatings.
On June 3 and 11 the Falun Dafa Information Center reported the following deaths:
- 57 year old Ms. Sui Songjiao, a farmer from Shanlijia Village in Shandong Province, died after torture in Linglong prison in early 2003;
- 48-year-old Mr. Zhong Hongxi, of Tiefa City, Liaoning Province, died after beatings on April 13th, 50 days after his release from Wujiabao Labor Camp in Fushun City;
- 63 year old Ms. Zou Qingyu, of Tiexi District in Shenyang, died in Dabei Prison on April 17, 2003, after a blood clot due to torture;
- 37-year-old Ms. Sun Yuhua, from Anshan City in Liaoning Province, was beaten to death by police on April 11 in Dabei Prison;
- Ms. Yuan Shumei, from Chifeng City in Inner Mongolia, was tortured to death in early February 2003 in Huhehaote Labor Camp for refusing to sign a guarantee to stop practicing Falun Gong.
Chinese church leaders also report that Pastor Gong Shengliang, the founder of the evangelical South China Church, was beaten and seriously wounded by guards in Jingzhou Prison in Hubei Province. Pastor Gong is reportedly in a coma and suffering from internal bleeding and is not receiving medial attention. In December 2001, Pastor Gong, one of China’s main Christian leaders, was sentenced to death after the court found him guilty of using a cult to undermine the enforcement of law and of malicious assault and rape. The sentence was eventually commuted after an international outcry in support of Pastor Gong.
”China now seems to have decided to carry out executions by other means, by beating and torturing religious leaders to death" said Nina Shea, Director of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, “It is urgent that the U.S. Government speak out now against this unspeakable assault on religious freedom."
An August 9, 2001, "top secret" government document bearing the official seal of the General Squad of National Security and Defense of the Beijing Bureau of Public Security, labeled Falun Gong and the South China Church as "evil cults." The document outlines orders to "the security squad, surveillance squad, domestic defense squad, relics protection squad and all the local public security offices" to act against them.