Canadian Court Awards Damages to Falun Gong Practitioner for Libel against Chinese Deputy Consul General
"This ruling is the correct classification for the hate propaganda that Chinese officials have spread around the world about Falun Gong, as an extension of -- and a veil to divert attention away from -- the genocide that is going on in China right now." -- Plaintiff, Mr. Joel Chipkar
TORONTO (FDI) — The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has awarded Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Joel Chipkar damages for libel against a Chinese consular official who stated that the practitioner was a member of a “sinister cult.”
Yesterday, Justice Harvey Spiegel awarded Chipkar $1,000 (CAD) in damages and $10,000 for legal costs against Mr. Pan Xinchun, the Deputy Consul General of the People’s Republic of China.
Justice Spiegel granted the judgment in the absence of the defendant, who failed to defend the action. The court also heard submission from Chipkar’s lawyer, Mr. Peter Downard, that Pan had evaded services of the claim.
Chipkar requested the award of only $1,000 because he wished to make clear that his concern was one of principle and was not about money.
Speaking with reporters after the ruling, Chipkar said, “I am very happy with this decision. For the past four years Chinese officials have called Falun Gong practitioners members of an evil cult as part of the “massive propaganda campaign” reported by Amnesty International… a campaign used to hide their crimes against humanity.”
Chipkar continued, “Today, Canadian courts have recognized that calling Falun Gong practitioners ‘evil cult’ members is illegal. I believe this ruling is the correct classification for the hate propaganda that Chinese officials have spread around the world about Falun Gong as an extension of — and a veil to divert attention away from — the genocide that is going on in China right now.”
On April 25th, 2003, shortly after the SARS-related death toll in Toronto reached 16, The Toronto Star published a feature letter from Chipkar, a local businessman, expressing his concern over the SARS cover-up that lead to the spread of SARS in Toronto.
On May 1st, 2003, a rebuttal letter by Pan appeared in the same newspaper denying responsibility for the cover-up of SARS and using the situation to accuse Chipkar and other Falun Gong practitioners of having a “hidden purpose” and “ulterior motives.” He also labeled Chipkar and Falun Gong practitioners as being members of a “sinister cult.”
Downard said that although Pan was a consular official, Pan acted outside of his consular functions in making these public statements. The court agreed, says Downard. “In addition,” he added, “[Mr. Pan’s] actions were contrary to international law and could not in any event claim any consular immunity in light of that.”
Downard further commented, “This ruling sends a clear message that the promotion of China’s persecution of Falun Gong in Canada will be condemned by the Canadian courts. I am hopeful [this case] will draw the attention to the community at large to the wrongful promotion of hatred in this country.”
Mr. Downard is a litigation partner and lead libel lawyer of Fasken Martineau, a large Canadian law firm.
Media Contacts: Peter Downard. (416) 865-4369, Joel Chipkar (416) 709-8678