For the First Time in Europe, Chinese Leader Charged with Human Rights Abuses

PARIS, 9 December, 2002 (European Falun Gong Information Centre) – On December 4th, William Bourdon and Georges-Henri Beauthier, two human rights lawyers renowned for their trials against Chilean dictator Pinochet in Belgium and France, filed a suit for crimes of torture at the Court of Nice against Li Lanqing. The Chinese Vice-Premier was then on an unofficial visit in France. The plaintiffs are four Falun Gong practitioners, including two French women. The complaint was based on the UN Convention Against Torture, which France signed in 1984 and which allows it to arrest and prosecute any person guilty of torture. It is the first time in Europe that a Chinese leader has faced such a complaint.

In June 1999, Li Lanqing was personally asked by former Party Leader Jiang Zemin to head the “610 Office”, which is exclusively responsible for the massive and violent persecution of Falun Gong. This special unit, a Chinese “Gestapo”, has the express permission to act outside the law and against human dignity.

Since July 1999, the orders issued by the 610 Office, under responsibility of Li Lanqing, have led to thousands of deaths, over 500 of which have been documented by international human rights organisations. More than 100,000 people have been arrested, illegally sent to forced labour camps, and often tortured. Thousands have been subjected to damaging psychiatric treatment and sexual abuse. Millions of people are being terrorised in their daily lives: denouncements, lay-offs, kicked out of their homes and schools, racketing, forced divorces and abortions, roaming. In France, the four people who have filed the complaint against Li Lanqing are:

* Chen Zumei, a Chinese woman living in France. While appealing in China against the persecution of Falun Gong in July 2000, she was arrested, imprisoned and wildly beaten. Her arm was broken and to this day she remains handicapped;
* Hélène Petit, a French woman who took part in a peaceful appeal on Tian’anmen in Beijing in November 2001. She was arrested, detained and beaten;
* Zhao Ming, a Chinese computer science student in Trinity College, Dublin, who was detained for more than two years in different forced labour camps and subject to continuous physical and mental tortures;
* Wang Yuzhi, a Chinese woman who was tortured in China. She escaped to the United Arab Emirates and was threatened with deportation back to China. She was finally saved by the Canadian Government.

Such an absurd and inhuman repression targets completely inoffensive and harmless people, simply because they practice Falun Gong and because some Chinese officials felt jealous of the popularity of this traditional Qigong method which was practised by over 70 million people in 1999.

Through this lawsuit we are calling the international community to awaken to the vicious nature of this repression. With the help of our lawyers, we will continue to use all legal means until Chinese officials directly responsible for the crimes committed against Falun Gong are condemned and punished by international justice. History must not let these horrific and large-scale crimes against humankind go unnoticed.