Among the western practitioners in Germany, there is an entire family that practises Falun Gong. Hubert and Edith together with their three daughters, Caroline, Steffi and Johanna, have practised Falun Gong since 1998. Their mischievous five-year-old son Joshua also follows the family practising the exercises from time to time. Their family photo has been seen by tens of thousands of overseas Chinese families in a Chinese Falun Gong booklet called "Go with You."
In Heidelberg, the Koerpers are quite famous. Their names are well known to local people since Hubert and his two eldest daughters, Caroline and Steffi, went to Tiananmen Square to appeal for Falun Gong in February 2002. At the time, this incident was widely reported by German media.
In late November, 2003, the Koerper family was once again involved in a China-related matter. Pursuant to the International Criminal Law and the German Criminal Code promulgated on June the 30th 2002, the German Falun Gong Association and forty Falun Gong practitioners from China, Germany, Ireland, Australia, the U.S. and Canada filed a lawsuit against sixteen Chinese officials headed by Jiang Zemin, on charges of Genocide, crimes against humanity and cruel torture. Hubert, Caroline and Steffi were also involved in the lawsuit because Chinese police abused them in the police station after they appealed in Tiananmen Square.
Abused by Police When Appealing in Tiananmen Square
Concerning the appeal on Tiananmen Square in February 2002, Hubert said: "When I was unfurling a banner that read ‘Return Freedom to Falun Gong’, I was immediately grabbed and harshly hit in the abdomen and back repeatedly by the police.” Steffi, who was seventeen years old then, was identified as a Falun Gong practitioner. She was grabbed from behind, and her mouth and nose were covered as she was forcefully dragged away. The police grabbed her so hard that she lost consciousness temporarily. In the police car and the police station afterwards, she was slapped by policemen on the face. Caroline has always been regarded as a quiet and well-behaved child in Germany, but she was also beaten by the police. They saw many practitioners being thrown to the ground, being stamped on their bellies and backs by the police, being thrown against walls and being subjected to other kinds of atrocities.
Suing Jiang Zemin in Germany
Appealing on Tiananmen Square is their most unforgettable experience over the past four years. After returning to their hometown, they received a completely different reception. German newspapers, radio and TV stations came to interview them one by one. It seemed everyone admired their courage. One of Steffi’s teachers posted the newspaper clipping about Steffi’s appeal on the bulletin board in the teachers’ office, together with eye-catching words “Our Student!” Hubert’s mother-in-law, who was a senior lawyer, also regarded them as heroes. But in Hubert's eyes, he doesn’t consider himself a hero as the suffering he endured is incomparable to what Falun Gong practitioners in China have suffered.
Through a German Falun Dafa website, Hubert and other German Falun Gong practitioners learn more about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China on a daily basis. Now their own personal experience has further verified the persecution displayed on the website. This reinforced their determination to spread the news about Jiang Zemin’s persecution of Falun Gong to more people. Hubert learned that a newly enacted law concerning genocide came into effect in Germany in June 2002 and that some Falun Gong practitioners wanted to sue Jiang Zemin in Germany. Hubert felt that the the time was ripe. He wanted to use his own experience to let more people pay attention to the crimes of genocide against Falun Gong by Jiang Zemin. In Germany, "genocide" is a very sensitive term. As a German who supports human rights, Hubert felt that he has an extraordinary obligation to speak for justice when facing unimaginable brutal persecution.
Good Prospects for the Lawsuit against Jiang Zemin
Caroline is confident about the success of the lawsuit against Jiang. This doesn’t mean that she thinks they can win the lawsuit against Jiang in Germany, but whether it succeeds in Germany or not, Jiang will eventually be prosecuted. Caroline is firmly convinced that justice will defeat injustice. Several months ago, the Global Coalition for Bringing Jiang to Justice was established in the U.S., and Falun Gong practitioners in the U.S., Belgium, Taiwan, etc. have also filed a lawsuit against Jiang. Moreover, practitioners have also recently appealed to the European Union and the United Nations. The trial of Jiang Zemin is just a matter of time; it is not a case of whether Jiang should be tried or not. Hubert believes that this matter, regarded by many as impossible, might occur very soon. The capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain by American troops several days ago is a clear example of this. Recently, the German Nuremberg district court has issued an arrest warrant against a former Argentine dictator. The German attorney who represented the case is the one who is representing German Falun Gong practitioners against Jiang Zemin.
Love of Chinese culture, and Looking Forward to Going to China Again
Before Hubert began practising Falun Gong, he had a deep respect for Chinese culture and dreamed of going to China to learn Chinese medicine. As soon as he began to practise Falun Gong, he longed to go to China to practise the exercises with the many practitioners there. In 2001, he set foot on Chinese soil to appeal for human rights. Hubert commented: "I neither oppose the Chinese government nor the people of China. Jiang Zemin represents neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese people. The one I accuse is Jiang Zemin, who has committed the crime of genocide against the Chinese people."
Hubert hopes that he can return to China again one day, but he doesn’t want to appeal in Tiananmen Square again. He sincerely hopes that the persecution will end by then, and that Falun Gong practitioners in China will be able to practise the exercises again in a free environment. He would also like to practise the exercises with his “fellow practitioners” and share experiences with them.
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