Police Threaten Lawyers Into Dropping Investigation of Falun Gong Practitioner's Death in Custody

A Zhaoyuan City resident died hours after being arrested for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. Her son hired two lawyers to investigate her suspicious death, but the lawyers had to drop the case after the local police threatened to revoke their licences.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since 1999.

Ms. Guo Zhenxiang, 82, was seized by officers from Mengzhi Police Station at a bus station on the early morning of January 11, 2019 while distributing informational materials about Falun Gong. At around 10 a.m., her family was summoned to the police station and told that their loved one had died.

The police claimed that Ms. Guo became ill after being taken to the police station and died in a local hospital despite resuscitation attempts. Her body was then taken to Zhaoyuan City Funeral Home without her family's consent.

Suspecting that she had been abused at the police station, Ms. Guo's son hired two lawyers to investigate her death.

The lawyers requested to see surveillance videos recorded between Ms. Guo's arrest and her death. The police only agreed to show the footage of her arrest and denied having recordings of her at the police station or her resuscitation in the hospital.

The lawyers examined Ms. Guo's body at the funeral home. They found a large area of bruises on the back of her head. When they questioned the police about the bruises, the officers changed their narrative and said that she died after taking a fall.

As the lawyers were preparing to file complaints against the police for Ms. Guo's death, the police used every means to stop them. They monitored and harassed the lawyers and Ms. Guo's family.

The lawyers were also threatened with license revocation. They were thus forced to drop the case.

The police offered to settle the case with a small sum of money with Ms. Guo's family, who rejected the settlement. Ms. Guo's body remains at the funeral home.

Ms. Guo is the third Falun Gong practitioner confirmed to have died within five days in January 2019.

Ms. Ao Ruiying, 28, from Inner Mongolia, died on January 10, 2019, shortly after being released on bail following her arrest in June 2018 while visiting relatives in Beijing.

Ms. Song Zhaoheng, a 76-year-old retired teacher in Yushu City, Jilin Province, passed away on January 14, 2019 at Yushu City Detention Center, five months after she was arrested for talking to people about Falun Gong.

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