Supporters of the Falun Gong, a China-based religious group, have alleged that adherents of the sect in the Communist nation are being killed in custody within days, or even hours, of being detained by authorities.
In a statement, the Falun Dafa Information Centre here said that the "escalating maltreatment" is a direct result of efforts to "stamp out" Falun Gong prior to the summer Olympics in Beijing.
"The speed with which Falun Gong adherents are being seized by police, abused, and turning up dead is alarming and reprehensible," said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Gail Rachlin.
"These are people who never should have been arrested in the first place. Arbitrary arrests, torture, and extra- judicial executions are no way to 'prepare' for the Olympics."
If China's communist authorities "wish to hold a truly 'successful' Olympic Games, rounding up and killing those who might remind us that 'all is not well' is not the way to go about it. The artificially sterile, silent streets of Beijing should give visitors the chills," Rachlin added.
The statement said the Centre is particularly concerned over recent reports of adherents "dying" in custody shortly after their arrest.
Within the first three months of 2008, the Centre has documented six cases of practitioner deaths occurring within merely 16 days of arrest and in some cases, within hours, it said.
By comparison, in 2007, it was over the course of the entire year that the same number died within such a short time in custody, it said. In several of the recent cases, family members were able to view the body before its cremation and saw signs of torture, including strangulation marks or bruises from electric batons, the statement alleged.