AFP: “Falungong follower dies "after 10 months of torture"”

A member of the banned Falungong spiritutal sect died after 10 months of torture and maltreatment in prison in northeast China, the group's New York headquarters said.

Ju Yajun, a 33-year-old farmer from Yuquan in Ahcheng city, Heilongjiang province, was arrested on October 11 last year when he went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falungong, the Falun Dafa Information Center said in a statement Saturday.

He was detained at Ahcheng city number two detention centre where he was give short rations and repeatedly beaten, the group said.

Ju was released after three months but rearrested a month later, beaten and sent for one year "re-education through labour" in Changlinzi labour camp.

In the labour camp Ju was tortured and suffered scabies and went on a series of hunger strikes. He was forcefed while on hunger strike.

"The prison guards are ordered to forcefeed any Falungong practitioners on hunger strikes to keep them alive in the hopes that, by prolonging their torture, they may be eventually coerced to abandon their beliefs," Falun Dafa spokesman Adam Montanaro said.

"This policy is horrifying. Still, these Falun Gong practitioners resort to hunger strikes because it is the only way left for them to protest the injustice while adhering to the principles of non-violence."

On October 18, Ju's throat swelled up and the plastic tube could not be inserted. On October 21 he was sent to the prison hospital and was returned that night unconscious.

On October 24 he was returned still unconscious to his family in Yuquan, who took him to hospital. Ju died on October 26 without regaining consciousness after 36 hours of emergency treatment in Harbin City Medical School Number Two Hospital, the group said.

The Falungong centre said the death brought to 312 the total number of Falungong practitioners who have died in custody since the group was outlawed in July 1999.

Reports of deaths are difficult to verify, but independent human rights groups have been able to confirm more than 150 deaths so far.

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