On December the 2nd 2004, the Dutch Falun Gong Association filed a legal complaint against the former President of China Jiang Zemin, Li Lanqing and the Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, charging them with committing crimes of genocide and torture in the suppression of Falun Gong. Renowned Dutch human rights attorney Ms. Liesbeth Zegveld submitted the lawsuit on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners to the National Court in Rotterdam. On December the 7th, a reporter interviewed Ms. Zegveld.
Reporter (R): Could you say something about the law firm where you work?
Liesbeth Zegveld (LZ): I work in Bohler’s law firm which excels in criminal law, migrant law, international law, and cases dealing with human rights abuse.
R: You are the lawyer dealing with the lawsuit against Jiang in the Netherlands. In the complaint who is the plaintiff? Who are the defendants?
LZ: The Dutch Falun Gong Association is the plaintiff acting on behalf of all Falun Gong victims. The defendants are former President of China Jiang Zemin, head of the “6-10 Office” and the Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai.
R: Why did you choose them as the defendants?
LZ: As far as the Netherlands is concerned, it is not easy to launch this case here. The Netherlands has no ability to investigate all of those involved in the persecution. Therefore, among the lot of persecutors we just choose several accomplices who have played leading roles in planning and executing the persecution. Jiang Zemin is the initiator and director of the persecution, while the “6-10 Office” serves as agents to carry out the persecution policies.
R: On which law is this case based on?
LZ: This case is based on the International Convention Against Genocide and the Convention Against Torture that the Netherlands has ratified.
R: Is this case the first complaint against genocide in the Dutch judicial history?
LZ: Yes. Yesterday a second complaint about genocide had been submitted. Frans Van Anraat, who was arrested last month, was sued for his involvement in the genocidal campaign launched in 1988 against the Kurds living in Halabja, Iraq. Of course, in Dutch judicial history some lawsuits have been filed for crimes against humanity and torture.
R: The five-year long persecution is still occurring in China. Jiang Zemin and his followers are in China. Can you sue them in the Netherlands?
LZ: The crimes of genocide committed by the Jiang group are not restricted to China. The persecution has been extended to the rest of the world through worldwide activity in the Chinese Embassies. Propaganda slandering Falun Gong has been used to incite hatred against Falun Gong. Various methods have been adopted to persecute overseas Falun Gong practitioners. Besides, we have victims who are Dutch nationals. Though they were persecuted in China, they remain Dutch citizens.
R: How will this legal complaint develop?
LZ: I Suppose in the Netherlands a judge will take up this case. This case can continue only if the defendants are arrested. In the meantime, the case will not go any further. If the defendants enter the Netherlands, an arrest warrant can be issued to arrest them. The prosecutor can deny the case on the grounds that the defendants are not here. With the absence of the defendants, the judgement of the case will appear meaningless. For us the best result is that the prosecutor leaves the case unresolved until the defendants come to the Netherlands. If the prosecutor refuses to take up this case, we will wait until the defendants enter the Netherlands. Then we will once more submit the renewed complaint and demand a judge to take up the case.
R: At present, forty-four lawsuits in twenty-seven countries against China’s former leader are under investigation or have come to an end. Will the present lawsuit in the Netherlands bring any practical effect or just have a symbolic meaning?
LZ: We do hope this lawsuit will have practical effects. Of course, it is not easy. But, we still hope to use the lawsuit to stop [those involved in the persecution] from coming to the Netherlands. If many countries do it in this way, it will warn them not to leave China or they will be arrested. This is an important message conveyed by the lawsuit.
R: If other major accomplices instead of the three defendants enter the Netherlands, will they get into trouble?
LZ: In fact, the criminal lawsuit we filed with the court can be used against all accomplices. As soon as one accomplice steps onto the territory of the Netherlands, we could launch the lawsuit against him. If the prosecutor takes up this case, the prosecutor can issue an arrest warrant to have the accomplice arrested, without informing us, if the prosecutor knows that the person is mainly responsible for the persecution in China. That is, the prosecutor can take action any time. Of course, we will help the prosecutor, for example, in informing the prosecutor of the accomplice’s arrival in the Netherlands.
In the process of investigating the case, any major accomplice involved in the persecution of Falun Gong will likely be arrested once he arrives in the Netherlands.
R: The persecution mainly happens in China. Some Dutch people might think that it has nothing to do with them. How do you view the question?
LZ: We have victims of Dutch nationality. Therefore, we cannot say it has nothing to do with the Netherlands. On the other hand, crimes of genocide are the evilest among all criminal behaviour. All countries should help to stop genocide. No one can say it is none of their business.
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