"Le Soir" (Belgian newspaper): Under Universal Jurisdiction, Six Falun Gong Practitioners filed a Lawsuit

On the 21st August 2003, Belgium’s “Le Soir” published the following story:

A new international lawsuit has been filed in Belgium. This is a new challenge to Belgium’s universal jurisdiction. Six Falun Gong practitioners filed a lawsuit in Brussels, accusing the former leader of the People’s Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, former vice premier of the State Council, Li Lanqing, and deputy director of “610” office, of being responsible for suppressing Falun Gong.

This lawsuit concerns genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of torture and is based on the revised law concerning universal jurisdiction passed in Belgium this summer. The revised law has a strict standard of accepting cases. According to the attorney, there is a Belgian among the plaintiffs by the name of Matthias Slaats, who was arrested on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in April, 2002.

Among the plaintiffs, there is a Chinese lady who has lived in Belgium for six years. She was put on a blacklist and banned from returning to China. There is another lady from Australia, whose husband was murdered by the Chinese authorities, and a gentleman from Dublin [Ireland]. The rest of the plaintiffs are from the United States and Australia respectively. If the lawsuit is accepted by the federal court and enters the pre-trial stage, more plaintiffs will join with the due process of the legal procedure.

The practice of Falun Gong, according to the plaintiffs, is an ancient practice that is good for one’s health and aims at improving the physical and mental well-being of practitioners. It has been banned in China since July 1999. In China and other countries, there are tens of millions of practitioners.

In China, Jiang Zemin established the “610” office in June 1999, in order to suppress this movement. The era of suppression thus started. According to attorney Beauthier, these plaintiffs represent different kinds of victims in this persecution. In his opinion, the nature of these crimes (genocide, crimes of torture, and crimes against humanity) have comparatively more legal significance. He said that the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over these acts, because China has regulations to approve those acts.

This legal action in Belgium takes place at the same time as actions in other countries. In France, a lawsuit was filed against Li Lanqing in December 2002 when he paid a transit visit to Nice. It seems that lawsuit has received a positive response from the court in Paris. The lawsuit filed in Brussels is of a different nature. In the United States, the plaintiffs preferred civil lawsuits and it seemed to have been the right way to proceed.

Late Wednesday morning, in Brussels, after the lawsuit was filed, over 30 Falun Gong practitioners began a demonstration and petition activity. They repeatedly practised the exercises and hung up a banner that read “Jiang Zemin is a dictator.” […]

Translated from Chinese at http://www.yuanming.net/articles/200308/23584.html

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