Message from German Lawyer at a Rally in Karlsruhe City Centre

On Saturday March the 6th, more than 50 Falun Gong practitioners from Karlsruhe and the surrounding cities held a rally in the Market Square in Karlsruhe city. They let people know about progress in the criminal indictment filed in the German Federal Procuratorate in Karlsruhe against the former Chinese President Jiang and his accomplices. Practitioners also collected signatures to support this lawsuit. Many NGOs gave speeches to express their support. The following is a speech made by a human rights lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck:

“If it concerns the fundamental rights of a person, life and liberty, protection from torture, arbitrary deprivation of liberty and discrimination, all that are basic foundations of an “upright path”, one cannot think in relative terms or compromise.”

These clear and unambiguous words were spoken on December the 9th 2002, during Federal President Johannes Rau’s state visit to China, at the Nanjing University. The President talked about “constitutional state principles being prerequisites for a modern society” when addressing the human rights situation in China. Federal Chancellor Schroeder, together with a large German Industry and Commerce delegation, visited China a few weeks later in an attempt to garner as many successful business deals for Germany as possible. The Federal Government human rights appointee, Claudia Roth, remained in Berlin.

There was no reason for Schroeder not to openly address the human rights situation in China, the persecution of a large minority group, the inhuman labour camps and the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. On November the 21st 2003, only a few days before his trip, he was presented with the names of forty German, Irish, Canadian, Australian and American citizens who are participants in a lawsuit against the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other government officials from the People’s Republic of China. This lawsuit was filed with the Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe on charges that included, but are not all-inclusive, Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, Murder, Torture and Life-threatening Physical Injury against Falun Gong practitioners between the years 1999 and 2003. The eighty six page complaint identifies sixteen named functionaries and numerous unnamed guilty persons who have either directly or indirectly participated in the torture and abuse of Falun Gong practitioners. An additional fifteen detailed cases, where these named and unnamed persons had participated in such torture and abuse during police custody and in labour camps, were included. We have sent another two lever-arch files to the Federal Prosecutor’s office, including attachments with reports from well-known human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UNHCR (United Nations Human Rights Commission), as well as material that discuss the murder of an estimated 818 Falun Gong practitioners to date.

It would be desirable if legal processes concerning torture and murder cases could be initiated. Unfortunately, even though a “German-Chinese Bilateral State Dialogue” is in process, China is not even close to establishing a constitutional state. This reason alone should have been enough for Federal Chancellor Schroeder to see the importance of addressing this issue during his visit to China.

Even today, witnesses to the crimes and their family members are being threatened and become victims of the persecution. Legal clarification of the facts regarding crimes committed by government officials, including oversights by human rights organisations, is out of the question at this moment.

In Germany, legal remedies for victims of human rights violations became favourable with the introduction of the People’s Penal Codes on June the 30th 2002. As one has not gained extensive experience under these laws, only the future will tell if the actions will match the words, or in other words whether tangible criminal prosecutions will follow. The Karlsruhe Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for criminal prosecution regarding genocide and violations against humanity. The charges of persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, filed on November the 21st 2003, are the first serious attempt to prosecute human rights violators in Germany since the introduction of these laws during the summer of 2002.

The plaintiffs hope that the highest German committee of inquiry will not accept the present human rights violations and impunity conditions in China, and that they will hear the case against Jiang Zemin and all other government officials. Generally, Germany does not hear cases in absentia of the accused, and it is questionable if one of the accused will travel to Germany in the near future. However given its role as pioneer to the enforcement process of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it is at least obligated to hear the complaint and address it as deeply as possible. As a minimum, the Karlsruhe prosecutor’s office will take sufficient time to discern if proceedings against the former Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, are to be initiated. All earlier attempts to bring any charges under the People’s Penal Codes failed within a few days, and inquiry into the matter was denied.

It is fact that an international warrant has to be requested and issued for people who, after inquiry, are found to be under suspicion. This happened finally in the proceedings against former Argentinean Military personnel by the Nuremberg prosecutor’s office in Fuerth. Therefore, those accused have to think very hard about which countries they wish to visit in the future.

German inquiries may encourage the criminal prosecution authorities of other countries to follow suit, to initiate their own inquiries, collect outcomes and perhaps in the future file criminal proceedings against human rights violators at the appropriate place in China.

To date, the Federal Government requested the extradition of the former Argentine military junta, Chief Jorge Videla, more than twenty-five years after he committed human rights violations. We hope the Federal Prosecutor’s Office will follow suit in 2004, so that the victims of human rights violations in China do not have to wait as long for their rights to be addressed.

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