La Presse, February 9, 2002

A Falun Gong poster (center) in Place d'Armes, the Montréal metro station closest to Chinatown

Tired of watching themselves be insulted, abused, in a word, tarnished, Montreal [practitioners] of Falun Gong have filed a defamation lawsuit for nearly 15 million dollars against a Chinese journal of the metropolis, La Presse chinoise

The suit was filed in December and will be heard on May 9th. The petitioners, numbering 126, are claiming $100,000 each for damages. Three temporary injunctions have already been granted.

The first, in December, prohibited the newspaper from publishing words [that are] "unreasonable against Falun Gong practitioners," Michael Bergman, the lawyer for the complainants explained yesterday. The second, the 7th of January, renewed the ban. One month later, that is, this past Thursday, the court took charge again to specify, among other things, restrictions prohibiting the newspaper from making use of terms such as "evil", "hate", "deviant", "perverted practices" or "enemies of the State", in reference to Falun Gong adherents.

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, combines [Master Li's teaching], physical exercises and meditation. 100 million members strong on the planet, according to its own estimates, the movement has been banned in China since 1999. Since then, its adherents have been unceasingly persecuted, hundreds having lost their lives in custody, they say. Thousands of others have been sent, without trial, to "re-education through forced labor" camps. China is regularly condemned by various organisations such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations for its non-respect of human rights.

Nonetheless, the defence counts on contesting the lawsuit. "The comments were reasonable under the circumstances", the lawyer for the newspaper, Aram Oulousian, said yesterday. It was not possible to talk to the publisher, Crescent Chau, absent until Monday.

In other respects, to struggle against this defamation and the more general misunderstanding of this movement, a Falun Gong adherent has launched an information publicity campaign in the metro. Fifteen posters are put up in different stations, inviting the curious to visit the movement's web site.

"I would like to share the beauty and the goodness of Falun Gong with the Quebec people", explained the instigator of the campaign, Cheng. She said she paid for the posters from her own pocket, at a price of $4,000. It was not possible to verify this information, as Metro Media Plus, responsible for the placement of media in the metro, judges it confidential.

Be that as it may, Mrs. Cheng does not make a cent from the campaign. Zhuan Falun, the bible of the movement, written by its founder Master Li Hongzhi, prohibits anyone teaching or sharing the practice with someone from obtaining any kind of financial benefit. "Our goal is to do good", the young lady summed up.

Translated from an online version (French) from