NEW YORK, December 24, 2001 (Falun Dafa Information Center)—Falun Gong practitioners in Canada, along with legal counsel Mr. Rocco Galati, held a news conference on December 21, to give details of a lawsuit that was filed two days earlier in the Superior Court of the Province of Ontario by 156 Falun Gong practitioners against one of the world’s largest overseas Chinese language newspapers, the Sing Tao Daily.On September 20, 2001, a full-page spread, entitled "Radical religions advocate destroying the world", published and distributed worldwide in the Sing Tao Daily, carried photographs and commentary placing Falun Gong with many reportedly violent and doomsday religious cults as well as with the September 11th terrorist attacks that had occurred only 9 days before. The lawsuit, now filed, charges libel, slander, negligence and incitement of hatred. Plaintiffs include Falun Gong practitioners from different provinces in Canada as well as those from Hong Kong who were shown in the article’s photograph. Shortly after the article’s printing Falun Gong practitioners sent two letters to the Sing Tao regarding the slanderous report. Lawyer Rocco Galati sent another letter in October. According to practitioners in Canada, the Sing Tao failed to respond satisfactorily.Mr. Galati stated today, "My clients have been very patient. They have given the Sing Tao an opportunity to resolve this issue. However, now they have no choice but to take legal action."The Statement of Claim filed with the court states, in part, " in publishing the expose did engage in inciting hatred against an identifiable spiritual group which is contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada… are parties and co-conspirators in these hate crimes and crimes against humanity for which civil liability arises."Falun Gong, was freely practiced in China before 1999 and was granted the Award for Advancing Boundary Science, and Qigong Master Most Acclaimed by the Masses in 1993. In 1996, Falun Gong’s main book of teachings, Zhuan Falun, was a national bestseller in China. However, Falun Gong has been the target of a large-scale persecution and propaganda campaign since July 1999, after the number of practitioners grew to an estimated 100 million, gaining tremendous popularity throughout China. At the United Nations meeting in August 2001, International Education Development (IED), a California-based human rights organisation stated, "The government… attempted to justify its State terrorism against the group by calling it an ‘evil cult’ that has caused deaths and the break-up of families. In our investigation, the only deaths have been at the hands of the Chinese authorities; families have been broken up because family members have been killed by the regime; people have been broken down, not by Falun Gong, but by extreme torture, incarceration in mental hospitals with brutal treatment, hard labour in labour camps and other such practices." At least 329 deaths of Falun Gong practitioners due to torture and mistreatment in custody have been confirmed, while sources in the Chinese government reveal the true number of deaths at the hands of police exceeds 1,600.Mr. Rocco Galati added, "Falun Gong is practiced in at least 53 other countries and only in China is it being targeted with persecution and propaganda…The entire world has condemned this persecution. The US Congress and the European Parliament have passed resolutions. For the Sing Tao to stand on the side of this persecution is unacceptable."