The Tech (MIT's newspaper): Lawsuits Against Genocide

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Published in MIT's newspaper "The Tech" on April 25, 2003

Individual Falun Gong plaintiffs in the U.S. have filed a lawsuit charging Jiang Zemin and other top officials in his "610 Office" with genocide and torture. The "610 Office" is an agency specifically created to persecute Falun Gong. It has absolute power over each level of administration in the Party and all other political and judiciary systems.

Lawsuits are soon to follow in other countries as a worldwide coalition forms to bring Jiang Zemin to justice. According to Swiss attorney Philip Grant, the persecution of Falun Gong violates the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which China signed and ratified. The persecution also violates the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

What is the nature of this persecution? Since July 1999, the Jiang Zemin regime has directed a brutal campaign to eliminate Falun Gong, a traditional self-improvement system originating in China and freely practiced in over 50 countries. Also known as Falun Dafa, the practice includes meditation and exercises with teachings based on the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.

Jiang outlawed the practice after government estimates put the number of practitioners as high as 100 million, which outnumbered Communist Party members. Unable to crush the spirit of millions who had experienced positive life changes from Falun Gong, the regime intensified its propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against the practice while imprisoning, torturing, and even murdering practitioners.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the U.S. government and many other reputable sources have documented hundreds of deaths by torture of practitioners detained in China. Since the P.R.C. treats information on Falun Gong deaths as state secrets, the true number may never be known. In addition, thousands of practitioners have been forced into brainwashing centers, mental hospitals, and labor camps. To prevent the Chinese people from learning the truth, the regime spreads lies through its state-controlled media while it blocks hundreds of Internet web sites that report favorably on Falun Gong or expose the persecution. Most recently, the world has witnessed this same tactic in the cover-up of the SARS epidemic.

The regime also commits substantial financial resources to sustain this systematic persecution, which is carried out by officials from all levels. It affects millions of Falun Gong practitioners, their families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates. Such an extensive persecution requires a huge expenditure for police, detention centers, construction of new labor camps, the 610 Office, and security agents, both at home and abroad. It requires major expenditures for all branches of the propaganda machine: radio, television, newspapers, "cultural" events, and systems for blocking overseas broadcasts and computer networks. The Chinese people are entitled to know the facts of the human and financial cost of this campaign against its own citizens.

In recent history, communist regimes have suppressed China's own cultural traditions and values as well as any popular movements or practices. The world has witnessed the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the suppression of the pro-democracy movement that culminated in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and now the persecution of Falun Gong.

Can we learn from history? Being proud of our Chinese heritage does not mean blindly giving our allegiance to whoever occupies the highest seat of power. It's been nearly four years. This lawsuit will require Jiang Zemin to answer for the crimes he has committed against the Chinese people. It will restore China's dignity and virtue as well as social stability built on justice and human rights.

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