Beijing – A 34-year-old woman has allegedly been beaten to death in jail on the day she was arrested for handing out Bibles in southwest China’s Guizhou province, state media said on Sunday.
Police in Guizhou’s Tongzi county arrested Jiang Zongxiu, a farmer, on June 18 on suspicion of “spreading rumours and inciting to disturb social order”, the Legal Daily said.
They had planned to detain her for 15 days, the report said, alleging Jiang died in police custody the afternoon she was arrested.
Her mother-in-law, Tan Dewei, who was arrested with Jiang but later released, told reporters police kicked Jiang repeatedly during interrogation.
Police later informed Jiang’s family she had died of a sudden illness and turned over her body to the family, but relatives saw the body was covered with bruises and blood stains, the report alleged.
Jiang’s husband and other villagers in neighbouring Chongqing municipality, where Jiang lived, said she was in good health before the arrests and was responsible for doing most of the family’s farm work.
Bibles not easily available
An operator manning the phones at the Guizhou police station on Sunday said she was not aware of the incident. Other police officials could not be reached for comment.
The incident has generated a strong public reaction in Jiang’s hometown in Chongqing’s Jijiang county, the report said, with local residents demanding an investigation into the cause of death.
Jiang’s case highlights increasing public disgust with police tactics and China’s continuing crackdown on religious practitioners.
The Chinese government, while allowing people to practice state-approved religions, such as Christianity, in government-sanctioned churches, forbids proselytising.
Bibles are banned from book stores and are not easy to obtain.