Falun Dafa Members File Suit Over Crackdown Against Group

By  Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal | Oct 09, 2000

HONG KONG — Two Falun Dafa members have filed suit with China’s supreme court, alleging several senior Communist Party leaders are personally responsible for the 15-month crackdown against the spiritual group.

The suit highlights a growing belief among Falun Dafa adherents that the government’s ban is directly attributable to a handful of Chinese leaders centered on President and Communist Party head Jiang Zemin. Although the suit stands little chance of being heard — indeed, the men who filed the suit are said to be in jail — it reflects a growing personalization of the conflict, which pits regular protesters in downtown Beijing against the party’s formidable security apparatus.

Since late September, for example, Falun Dafa’s main overseas Web site (http://clearwisdom.net/) has started carrying articles blaming Mr. Jiang for the crackdown and chronicling what it described as a well-laid plan to stigmatize and ultimately ban the group. Such articles were widely disseminated in China, helping to galvanize protests last week in Beijing that resulted in more than 1,000 Falun Dafa practitioners being arrested.

The suit was filed in late August, but a copy of it was only obtained within the past few days. Friends of the litigants smuggled a copy out of China after police pursued them for more than a month through several cities, they say. They arrived in Hong Kong and then departed for another country.

The suit specifies that two of Mr. Jiang’s top lieutenants, Zeng Qinghong and Luo Gan, pushed for the ban during the spring and summer of 1999 because they had been humiliated by a protest in downtown Beijing that April. More than 10,000 Falun Dafa adherents peacefully surrounded the leadership compound, called Zhongnanhai, demanding an end to what they said was slanted reporting of their organization in the government-controlled media.

Mr. Zeng controls senior leadership appointments and Mr. Luo oversees security. Both are considered rising stars in the leadership and top candidates to succeed Mr. Jiang when he retires, as expected, in two years.

Government officials said they hadn’t seen the suit and had no comment.

The 22-page document points to specific meetings that the three leaders attended in which it says they insisted that the crackdown be especially severe — thousands have been arrested and numerous people killed by police brutality. Although Mr. Jiang is sometimes seen as a moderate among China’s leaders, the banned spiritual group says the 74-year-old leader has taken a personal interest in stamping out the group. “He [Jiang] was very dissatisfied with how the Zhongnanhai incident was handled and felt his legacy was threatened,” the suit says in its introduction.

The suit was filed by Wang Jie, 37, an editor with the Survey and Mapping Publishing House, and Hong Kong resident Zhu Keming, 43, an artist and businessman. The two are being held on the outskirts of Beijing in the Fangshan Public Security Bureau Detention Center, according to people who have been held in the detention center and have seen them there.

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