Falungong sue Chinese minister in France

28th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - Four members of the Falungong sect on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Paris against visiting Chinese culture minister Sun Jiazheng, citing "crimes of torture."

PARIS, Jan 28 (AFP) - Four members of the Falungong sect on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Paris against visiting Chinese culture minister Sun Jiazheng, citing "crimes of torture."

The members of the spiritual sect, which is banned in China, said in their suit that the minister had "via broadcasts in the press and on the Internet and via cultural demonstrations appealed for the elimination of people practising Falungong."

They said Sun should be prosecuted for "incitement to massacre and persecution," and called for his detention before his planned departure from France on Thursday.

Sun is a member of the ministerial delegation accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao on a state visit to France. However a judicial official in Paris said he is covered by diplomatic immunity and there is no possibility of his being detained.

The four plaintiffs - a French woman and three Chinese men - said that since 1999 they had personally suffered arrest, arbitrary detention and torture in China because of their membership of Falungong.

"Whatever their practices, nothing can justify the persecution they were subjected to. My victims have taken the opportunity provided by Monsieur Sun's presence in France, knowing full well that they have no hope of prosecuting him in China," said their lawyer Emmanuelle Hauser-Phelizon.

The Buddhism-inspired Falungong group, which at one point claimed millions of followers in China, has been outlawed as an "evil cult" since 1999 when it organised a mass demonstration in Beijing.

It claims that more than 1,600 of its members have been killed since the government crackdown drove the organisation underground.

On Sunday some 650 Falungong members and human rights activists protested in Paris against Hu's state visit, which started Monday. The organisation also complained it had been stopped from taking part in a Chinese new year parade on the Champs Elysees on Saturday.

On Tuesday Hu signed a joint declaration with President Jacques Chirac which included a commitment to "promote and protect human rights in line with the United Nations Charter, by respecting the universality of these rights."

In October a Belgian prosecutor threw out a lawsuit by the Falungong movement against Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin, which cited genocide and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor said that the alleged offences did not constitute crimes against humanity.

© AFP

                                Subject: France news

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