During New York Visit, Chinese Forced Labor Camp Director Sued by Local Refugees for Torture

NEW YORK – The man in charge of forced labor camps in China’s Guangdong province was served yesterday with a lawsuit while visiting Manhattan. The complaint, filed on behalf of two female refugees now residing in Queens and other victims still in China, urges that the camp system superintendent be held liable for torture, illegal deprivation of liberty, and other severe human rights violations carried out in Guangdong labor camps that he has overseen since 2000.

The defendant, Mr. Shi Honghui, was approached by a process server while visiting Pier 16 in lower Manhattan on October 22. Upon being served, Mr. Shi threw the documents to the ground. He later fled the scene in a chartered bus, leaving other members of his party stranded at the pier.

One of the plaintiffs, 36-year-old Ms. Chen Hua, a former businesswoman and television actress, arrived in the United States in May 2009 as a United Nations refugee after fleeing to Thailand to escape persecution and currently resides in Queens. Beginning in August 2000, Chen was sent without trial twice to Chatou Women’s “Re-education Through Labor” Camp in Guangdong’s capital city of Guangzhou for her belief in Falun Gong, where she spent a total of over five years. Among the documents committing her to the camp were ones signed personally by Mr. Shi.

During her time in the camp and related detention centers, Chen endured extensive physical and psychological torture including prolonged sleep deprivation, severe beatings—often while her arms and legs were tied in painful positions—and forced feeding of a salt concentration that left her vomiting salt and blood for many days. The torture was aimed at forcing her to renounce her personal religious belief in Falun Gong.

“As we speak, Falun Gong practitioners like Ms. Chen are still being detained and tortured in Guangdong labor camps under Mr. Shi’s authority, in violation of China’s own laws,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Erping Zhang. “We hope that lawsuits such as this will encourage Mr. Shi and his colleagues to stop persecuting Falun Gong and send a clear message that although there is impunity for such crimes under the current Communist Party regime, perpetrators will eventually be held to account.”

The remaining plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the class of Falun Gong practitioners unlawfully sent to an estimated 20 labor camps in Guangdong province overseen by Mr. Shi as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s decade-long campaign to “crush” the traditional Chinese spiritual practice. Recent studies by human rights groups and other experts have found that Falun Gong practitioners are among the largest groups of detainees in China’s labor camp system, estimated to number in the tens of thousands. More than 3,000 Falun Gong deaths from abuse have been verified since 1999. (For additional background see: Journalists’ Corner)

The class action lawsuit against Mr. Shi was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act, which enable victims of torture from abroad to sue for redress in U.S. courts.

Ms. Chen and another female plaintiff in the lawsuit, Ms. Zou Yuyun, reside in New York City and are available for interviews.