FDI: Lawsuit Against Jiang -- Western Media Pay Attention, Chinese Media Reaction Low-key

August 24th report from Falun Dafa Information Center

Overseas Falun Gong practitioners in several countries have recently charged Jiang Zemin with genocide. The latest of these proceedings was a criminal suit filed against Jiang Zemin with prosecutors in Belgium.

The media in Western countries have paid a great deal of attention to these lawsuits, while some Chinese media remain low-key on these developments.

International media focus on the Belgian lawsuit

AFP reports: Renowned Belgian lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier who represents those Falun Gong practitioners filing in Belgium said in a statement that the plaintiffs accuse Jiang Zemin - who remains China's military head - of torture, crimes against humanity and genocide. "Jiang's horrific form of genocide ... is a terror that does not only destroy lives, but destroys faith. It is a terror that should not be allowed to exist in the modern world," said Beauthier.

Belgium's largest French newspaper, Evening News, reported on August 21st that a new international lawsuit was delivered in Belgium. This was a new challenge to the controversial "universal competence" law in Belgium.

Evening News reported that plaintiffs include a Belgian, Matthias Slaats, who was arrested and deported from China in February 2002 as part of the persecution of Falun Gong; a Chinese woman who had lived in Belgium for six years and was not allowed to stay in China because her name was on a blacklist, and a woman from Australia whose husband was killed by representatives of the Chinese government [for practising Falun Gong ]. Other plaintiffs include a man from Dublin, Ireland, an American resident and an Australian resident. If the courts accept the lawsuit and the suit enters the preliminary hearing stage, more people will join as plaintiffs as the case progresses.

British Reuters August 20th report: Australian citizen Ms. Dai Zhizhen went to Belgium with her three-year-old daughter to charge Jiang Zemin with her husband's murder. She said, "The last time my daughter saw her father, she was only nine months old. What saddens me the most is when she asks me where daddy is, I don't know how to answer her."

The report points out that lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier had brought the first successful case under the human rights law, in which two Rwandan nuns were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years for their part in the country's 1994 genocide.

Epoch Times journalists in France said, "the nature of this lawsuit against Jiang in Belgium is not civil, it's criminal. In other words, if the charges against Jiang stand, he will face prison and not merely financial or nominal consequences."

CNN Report

The report quotes the words of the plaintiff's attorney, "If you lodge a lawsuit and take on the responsibility and safety of so many people, it's because my clients and I consider there is a great possibility the suit will be accepted."

British Guardian August 21st report: lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier said he was confident the public prosecutor would not throw out the case. He is expecting to hear in September if the case will proceed.

Hong Kong South China Morning Post reports that one of the plaintiffs in this new case, 33-year-old Belgian computer programmer Matthias Slaats, said that the suit would be brought under new legislation adopted by Belgian lawmakers; the lawsuit fulfilled the required criteria.

Free Asia, VOA, BBC, Reuters, ABC (Australia), RTBF and other media reported this piece of news. Many overseas newspapers reprinted news articles by Reuters, AFP and other major media.

Numerous Lawsuits

Belgium Evening News reports: If the court accepts the lawsuit and enters the preliminary hearing stage, more people will join as plaintiffs as the case progresses. Similar action is also being taken in other countries. In December 2002 in France, a lawsuit against Li Lanqing was filed when he passed through the city of Nice. It seems this lawsuit received active response from the Parisian prosecutor, but the Brussels lawsuit uses a different strategy. In the US, the plaintiffs first considered a civil lawsuit and it seems they have had some successful outcomes.

Besides the suit against Jiang in Belgium and the suit against Li Lanqing in France, in March of this year, some Falun Gong practitioners in Switzerland also announced that they would sue Jiang Zemin.

In the U.S. in October 2002, Falun Gong practitioners filed a lawsuit against Jiang at a federal district court in Chicago for the first time. The charges include torture, crimes against humanity and genocide.

During the past six months, Falun Gong practitioners in other countries have also announced planned lawsuits against Jiang Zemin, including practitioners from the UK, Australia and Canada. People who were and are Jiang's accomplices were also sued in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Germany and other countries. A U.S. court pronounced Zhao Zhifei, head of Hubei Province's Department of Public Security guilty.

How the Chinese government is dealing with these lawsuits

When the media around the world focused on the Belgian lawsuit, the Chinese government was not at all happy. The Chinese Embassy in Brussels claimed the lawsuit has hurt Sino-Belgian relations.

This reaction is not unusual. When the lawsuit against Jiang was filed in a U.S. district court last October, the Chinese government never responded to court subpoena(s); instead, they tried through diplomatic channels to pressure the U.S. government to stop the lawsuit. The plaintiffs' attorney Terry Marsh said, "The defendant has not responded to the lawsuit through legal means; instead, they tried to reject it through diplomatic means."

A Falun Gong spokesman in Washington, D.C. said, "They are very afraid of this case. If Jiang leaves China, he would be taking great risks. In fact, in the court of people's hearts and morality, these plaintiffs have already won."

The media in Mainland China does not dare to report the suits against Jiang. It was reported recently, though, that the SinoSat satellite was tapped into and had broadcast a program called "Jiang Zemin facing lawsuits." The state-run Xinhua News Agency published a long article accusing Falun Gong of the tapping incident, but it didn't mention the content of the program.

Some Chinese media are low-key

It is interesting to note that among overseas Chinese media, other than the BBC Chinese, VOA Chinese, Free Asia, and NTDTV that filed detailed reports on the Jiang lawsuit in Belgium, some Chinese media have remained low key.

The reason behind the different approaches among the Chinese media boils down to Party control. A researcher from the Jamestown Foundation wrote an article analysing the Chinese government's control over Chinese media in the U.S., in which he states that the Chinese government made great efforts to influence the Chinese media. Some of its main strategies include investments and stock control; business interests in Mainland China, and putting Party workers inside the media. The Party has either total or partial financial control over many Chinese media outlets abroad. These do not dare to "ruffle the Party's feathers."

Taiwan's The Liberty Times reports on April 23 that 17 media outlets in Taiwan are suspected of receiving large investments from the Chinese Communist Party.

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