Beijing -- At least 10 Falun Gong followers died in a mass suicide to protest against the extension of their detention at a labor camp in northern China, a human rights group said Tuesday. Sixteen practitioners attempted suicide at the camp in the city of Harbin in Heilongjiang province on June 20, said the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
The center said the mass suicide attempt came after the practitioners' detention was extended from three to six months to punish them for a hunger strike in protest at frequent beatings.
A man who survived the mass suicide said more than 10 people died, the center said.
An official at the nearest police station to the Wanjia Labor Camp confirmed to AFP that "several" Falun Gong followers had died, although he declined to give details.
"We were told (by the camp) several of them died, but they didn't tell us how many," said the police official at Lequn township in Shuangcheng.