Australia: Falun Gong Practitioners File Lawsuit Against Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer

On June 8th, 2005, Falun Gong practitioners in Australia filed a lawsuit against Australian Foreign Minister, Mr. Alexander Downer, in the Australian Capital Territory's Supreme Court in Canberra, Australia. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop Mr. Downer from using Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities (DPI) Regulations to prevent the displaying of Falun Gong banners and the playing of amplified music outside the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.

The lawsuit seeks a ruling from the court that the DPI certificates signed by Mr. Downer are illegal. Further, the lawsuit asks the court to rule that the Foreign Minister has the responsibility to protect the rights of freedom of speech of Falun Gong practitioners in Australia, thus the rights to display banners and to use amplification equipment. The lawsuit asks for punitive compensation and demands the return of Falun Gong banners that have been confiscated.

The plaintiffs of the lawsuits are Australian citizen Ms. Jane Dai and Ms. Zhang Cuiying. Ms. Dai's husband died from persecution in China, leaving behind Ms. Dai and their young daughter. Ms. Zhang Cuiying travelled to China to appeal for justice for Falun Gong several years ago. She was arrested and illegally jailed in a Chinese prison for eight months, where she was tortured.

Mr. Hao Fengjun, a former member of the Tianjin State Security Bureau and 610 Office, and Mr. Yuan Hongbin, a Chinese law professor, provided evidence for the lawsuits. Both Mr. Hao and Mr. Yuan are seeking asylum from the Australian government. The lawsuit also includes previously undisclosed evidence from the Chinese defectors, exposing the widespread torture and murder in China.

Background Information

On March 18th, 2002, The Australian Times reported that the federal police acted under orders from the Foreign Minister Mr. Downer and forcefully removed banners and amplifying equipment that Falun Gong practitioners had set up in protest of the persecution in China. The incident coincided with the Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan's visit.

The banners that were confiscated at the time had the words, "Falun Dafa is Good," "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance," "Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong" and "Bring Jiang to justice." Ever since then, Mr. Downer has used DPI regulations and signed a temporary DPI certificate each month, preventing the display of Falun Gong banners or use of amplifying equipment to play music outside the Chinese Embassy.

Lawyer for the Falun Gong practitioners Bernard Collaery said: "The Australian Government's response to the persecution of Falun Gong has been disgraceful. The desire to advance bilateral relations with China including economic relations has resulted in a supine position on human rights and is a national disgrace."

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