A member of The Church of Almighty God from Hubei Province was arrested in September and died almost a month later. The family of the deceased suspect foul play on behalf of authorities, which may have caused her death.
Luo Ruizhen (pseudonym) was arrested on September 19 in Hubei’s Wuhan city. Ms. Luo was a member of The Church of Almighty God (CAG), one of the most targeted religious movements in China.
She was held at a local detention center, where two supervisors monitored her round the clock. It wasn’t until three weeks later that she was allowed to speak with her husband on the phone. He had called on the cellphone of one of her supervisors, and the conversation between them was brief.
Two days later, the village’s Party committee informed him that his wife had committed suicide by hanging herself. When he and other family members rushed to the Party committee, they were not given any explanations regarding her death. The official said that since she was a “political criminal,” no one could help them.
The next day, the family members decided to regroup, and, this time, 20 of her relatives showed up the local police station. The police officers told them that she had committed suicide, but her family members said that it wasn’t possible since she was monitored 24 hours a day. They also demanded to speak with her supervisors at the center, but the police ignored them. To this date, they haven’t been able to get in touch with the supervisors either in person or on the phone.
However, the police bowed down to the family’s pressure and agreed to take them to the funeral home where Ms. Luo’s body was kept. Her family members took pictures of her body, but as they were leaving the place, the police grabbed their devices and forcibly deleted all the photos. They were also told that their cell phones would be monitored for a year now.
Exactly a month after she was arrested, Ms. Luo’s body was cremated on October 19. When her relatives came to the crematorium, their cell phones were confiscated, and only two of them were allowed inside.
The two relatives who saw her body reported injury marks on her forehead and neck, indicating violent physical assault before death. When they tried to open her mouth to see her tongue to confirm suicide by hanging, they were not allowed to do that. When they said they wanted to change her clothes, the officers refused that and ordered them to leave.
After Ms. Luo’s body was readied for funeral service, it was carried outside by police officers. Her family members once again rushed to see her, especially check her tongue. But still, the officers held them back. The next day, her ashes were buried, with officers in plainclothes observing the process.
The documents of Ms. Luo’s death, i.e., the death certificate, cremation certificate, the autopsy certificate, as well as her ID card were in possession of the police even though they should have been handed over to her family as per legal requirements.
Given the behavior of the authorities, the family of Ms. Luo suspects that they are hiding the exact cause and conditions of her death while in detention. All further attempts by the relatives to find out what had happened to her were met with threats from the police to arrest other CAG members in the family.
Reported by Shen Xiang