Falun Gong Practitioners File Defamation Lawsuit Against Chinese Newspapers in New York City
Press Conference in New York City Announces State Supreme Court Lawsuit
NEW YORK, May 23, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) – Residents of New York City, together with the non-profit organization Friends of Falun Gong, have filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court seeking an end to the hate and slander put forth by the New York-area Chinese language newspapers, China Press and Sing Tao Daily.
Several of the plaintiffs, numbering 72 in all, held a press conference outside the China Press offices in midtown Manhattan, today (see statement below). Former city councilman Sheldon Leffler, attorney for the case, was present to provide details about the suit. Also present were representatives of Friends of Falun Gong, a non-profit organization and plaintiff in the case.
“Over the past year, a string of defamatory articles published by these newspapers have taken lies, defamatory statements and slanderous labels, and weaved them into articles that incite hatred and distrust for practitioners of Falun Gong among the people of New York City,” said Queens resident Janet Xiong, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The harm that results from these articles is real, and the damage they have caused has touched numerous facets of our lives.”
Earlier this year a similar case was filed in Montreal against Les Presses Chinoises newspaper, bringing charges of libel, slander, negligence and incitement of hatred. Quebec Superior Court handed down an injunction against Les Presses Chinoises for the publication of defamatory articles and later served the newspaper with contempt of court charges after it failed to comply with the court order.
In New York, the State Supreme Court issued an “order to show cause,” giving the China Press and Sing Tao Daily a court date of June 6th. Failing that, an injunction order will be issued.
This lawsuit comes on the heels of a class-action suit served in Honolulu last week against one of Beijing’s top Politiburo members, Ding Guangen, for his role in the human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Press Statement from Plaintiffs in Defamation Lawsuit Against Chinese Press
NEW YORK, May 22, 2002 – Residents of New York City, together with the non-profit organization Friends of Falun Gong, have filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court seeking an end to the hate and slander put forth by the New York-area Chinese language newspapers, China Press and Sing Tao Daily.
The lawsuit is based on seven articles published by the China Press between July 19, 2001 and December 22, 2001, and two articles published in Sing Tao Daily during the same time period.
In this lawsuit, we, the residents of New York City who practice Falun Gong are suing for defamation, seeking $50 million in actual damages from China Press, $50 million in punitive damages from China Press, $1 million in damages from Sing Tao Daily and, most important of all, an injunction against the publication of similar defamatory articles published in the future.
Over the past year, we have seen a string of defamatory articles published by these newspapers that take lies, defamatory statements and slanderous labels, and weave them into articles that incite hatred and distrust for practitioners of Falun Gong among the people of New York City. The harm that results from these articles is real, and the damage they have caused has touched numerous facets of our lives, including our workplaces, our communities, our circle of friends, and even our families.
Just last week, over 200 people celebrated the ten-year anniversary of Falun Gong with a colorful parade through lower Manhattan – complete with balloons, traditional Chinese dance and music. However, as the parade made its way through Chinatown, we were confronted by an angry mob that shouted defamatory slogans that drew directly from the content of the articles published by China Press and Sing Tao Daily. The mob’s shouts and gestures were hostile enough to alarm the police squad that was escorting the parade, and we were diverted from our planned route. Still, the mob pursued us for several blocks and continued to yell and curse at us as we quietly practiced our exercises and meditation in the nearby park, protected by a wall of police officers.
We, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, come from all walks of life. We are medical researchers, doctors, business owners, housewives, fashion designers, librarians, college professors, information technology professionals, etc. We stand here today to say that with this lawsuit we seek to stop this spread of hate against Falun Gong in New York City. It has no place in our city. It has no place in our communities. It has no place in our lives.
Falun Gong has brought peace and health to literally tens of millions around the world, and is welcomed in over 50 countries. New York, being a city of diversity, tolerance, and deep spirituality, has also welcomed Falun Gong just as Falun Gong has enriched the lives of New Yorkers.
We will not stand for hatred spread through any channels. Thank you.