BEIJING, Dec 17, 2001 -- (dpa) A member of the Falun Gong spiritual movement died in custody on December 5 after police beat her for refusing to answer their questions, a human rights group reported on Sunday.
Zhang Min died in the Yilan County No. 2 Detention Center in Heilongjiang province, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Zhang was arrested on November 28 while she was distributing Falun Gong leaflets with eight other members, the center said.
Police ordered Zhang to tell them where she got the leaflets and where they were printed, but she refused to cooperate and became seriously ill as a result of beatings and lack of water, it said.
Despite her obvious illness, Zhang was not taken to hospital and eventually died of breathing problems. Her body was cremated on December 7, it said.
The center said it had confirmed 186 deaths in custody of Falun Gong members since China banned the group in 1999.
[Falun Gong] claim 321 members have died in Chinese police custody. They say more than 500 practitioners have been jailed, some 1,000 confined to mental hospitals, and 20,000 sent to labor camps without trial.
Last month China expelled 35 Western Falun Gong members who protested in Beijing's Tiananmen Square against the government crackdown on the group.
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