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China Group Reports Beating Death

October 11, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ A woman who refused to break ties with the banned meditation group Falun Gong was beaten to death by police while held in custody in eastern China, a Hong Kong-based rights group said today.

Zhao Jinhua, who had been following the teachings of Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi since 1995, was detained in Zhangxing town near the city of Zhaoyuan on Sept. 27.

Police informed her family on Friday of her sudden death Thursday without giving the cause of death, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.

The center said a police pathologist’s report showed the cause of death was an attack by an object, but police and government officials threatened the family to try to keep the cause secret.

A spokesman at the police office said he had no information about the case.

Falun Gong members have reported numerous unconfirmed cases of beatings and other maltreatment of group members detained since the government banned the movement in July.

Falun Gong is a mix of concepts from Buddhism, Taoism and the ideas of its founder, who lives in exile in New York. The government sees the millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China as a threat to stability and government control.

Falun Gong at its peak had 70 million believers in China by one official estimate, more than the 61 million members of the Communist Party.

Unknown numbers of people who refuse to give it up have been put under detention across the country. Trials of leaders of the organization in Beijing are expected soon, but officials have not disclosed information about their cases.

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