Interview with Plaintiffs' Attorney in the Lawsuit Against Jiang Zemin and Office 610
(Clearwisdom.net) The United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois has scheduled the plaintiffs' attorneys to meet the judge for the initial scheduling conference on Monday, January 13, 2003. The conference is to proceed from 10 am until noon (U.S. Eastern time). We present here an interview with Terri Marsh, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
Reporter: Tell us a little bit about this lawsuit; what's the goal you want to achieve through this lawsuit?
Marsh: The goal of the lawsuit is to stop the persecution in China and to use the legal system in the United States to alert the world to the holocaust that is occurring at this point in China, so as to mobilize more people to help us stop the persecution through means other than legal action as well.
R: Who are the Plaintiffs , who are the Defendants?
M: The Defendants in the lawsuit are Jiang Zemin, who is the current President in China, and also Office 610. Office 610 was actually created by Jiang Zemin specifically to persecute and torture Falun Gong practitioners, who embrace Zhen Shan Ren (Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance) as their tenets. The Plaintiffs are individuals who have suffered enormous degrees of torture and brutality at the hands of Jiang Zemin and Office 610, and they also stand for all the persons who have visited China and been tortured because they embrace Falun Gong; or the people who live in China, and the relatives of the people who live in China, who have suffered at the hand of Jiang Zemin because they practice Falun Gong. Another group of people are those who have been put on Chinese government's blacklist because of their belief in Falun Gong. This is a class action. We have the testimonies of some victims.
R: What has happened since the lawsuit was filed?
M: This lawsuit was submitted to the court on October 18, 2002. We served Jiang Zemin on October 22 while he was in Chicago during his visit to the U.S. Since then Jiang and the Chinese government have been publicly denying the existence of this case. But as we all know, there has been quite some media coverage about this lawsuit.
R: What are the statutes that this lawsuit is based on?
M: The lawsuit is primarily based on two statutes: the Alien Tort Claim Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act. Both of them are United States Code statutes which provide protection to plaintiffs who reside in this country and elsewhere, for human rights abuses that are committed anywhere in the world, as long as the abuses rise to the level of violations of the Law of Nations which include things like torture, genocide, crimes against humanity, and arbitrary detention.
There is also a convention on genocide that we used as well, which is a self-executing International Treaty, meaning that we can use it as a jurisdictional basis in our lawsuit, and its role is that it waives the Head of State Immunity for persons who commit Crimes Against Humanity and genocide.
R: Please tell us some details about the genocide and holocaust that you said are happening in China.
M: What happened to Falun Gong practitioners in China is that Jiang Zemin created the Office 610, which is a Gestapo-like organization, and he created it specifically for the purpose of eliminating Falun Gong from mainland China and suppressing the belief, and if necessary exterminating all of those that espouse the principles of Falun Gong. It is probably the only nation in the world that has ever criminalized the belief of the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. If in China one holds up a banner that says, "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance", one is picked up by the police, put in prison, subjected to forms of torture that are unimaginable. They have selectively targeted especially the vulnerable persons who practice Falun Gong, for example: women, children and the elderly. Women in their 60s or 70s have been forced to crawl in the snow and have been beaten when they refuse to move on, then they lose consciousness, and then water has been poured on them to bring them back to life and are forced to endure it again until they finally pass out and die. Mothers have been forced to watch their infants killed in front of their eyes. Women have been forced to have abortions; women have been raped. Inmates from male cells are brought into female cells. Policemen use cigarettes to burn women's private areas. They stick electric batons inside the women's bodies. Persons who practice Falun Gong in China are hung upside down from ceilings. They are stripped naked. They are put in cages. They are subjected to electric shock. They are put in psychiatric hospitals and subjected to all sorts of nerve-damaging psychotropic drugs, which take away their mental capacity to think... It is clearly a genocidal campaign against any Falun Gong practitioner, who embraces the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance as their tenets.
R: How did this come to light?
M: I am an attorney, I was given this information, and reports put out by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations through some of the Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' relatives. They also gave me information as to the extent of the torture. I have since that time interviewed the Plaintiffs. I have interviewed many, many Plaintiffs. I have listened to their stories, taken notes, and made comparisons. It is pretty clear that I was told initially is in fact going on in China today from the first-hand reports of the Plaintiffs, their families and also the reliable reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other reliable sources.
R: Do you think this lawsuit will help China, since it's so far away?
M: Yes, I think that if the courts in the United States read the lawsuit carefully and make both moral and legal decisions at various junctures in this case, we can win this case, and we can get a judgment against Jiang Zemin for genocide and also a judgment against Office 610 for genocide and torture and Crimes Against Humanity; and I think that this certainly sends a signal to China that this is unacceptable behavior; that a United States Court has ruled; and that not only will they be subjected to monetary damages up to 1.7 billion dollars, but also their travel in the United States would be more restricted. The same applies to those that have done similar things because we would be happy to welcome them to the District Courts under similar charges.
R: What's the impact of this lawsuit?
M: I think that the impact is many-fold and will affect different people, different officials in different parts of China, in different ways. I think certainly people in China will be horrified to really have to come to grips with what it is that their government is doing, and has been doing to Falun Gong for the past three years in the same way that many of the Germans were really alarmed to have understood the extent of the concentration camps and the extermination of the Jews. I think that there are many people in China who play a role in the persecution without understanding exactly what the persecution is and that they are helping their government exterminate people and commit genocide. And I think certainly that this lawsuit will alert them to their responsibility: that not only could they face similar charges themselves, but that it's immoral, it's illegal, and that they need to stop. And so, perhaps this lawsuit will enlighten more people in China, and perhaps in that way help to put a stop to the persecution, as well as obviously sending signal to those most guilty (who continue to persecute Falun Gong, even now as I speak).
R: What would happen if the Defendants respond and what would happen if they don't?
M: If he were to come to court, if he were to face the charges against him, and to acknowledge the rule of law which in this country actually has a great deal of gravity and weight, then certainly he would have to explain in a Court of law why, and how, and to what extent he has tortured and perpetrated crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity against persons who practice Falun Gong. I would certainly insist that he take the stand himself.
I would have the right legally to ask him questions, and I could ask him questions about the different Plaintiffs and what happened to their families and what was perpetrated against each of them, and what is his knowledge of this, and why has he done this, and why is he persecuting Falun Gong in China. And we would also have the right to subpoena other witnesses from China, and basically create a case in which it would become clear to a jury of 12 persons that Jiang Zemin and Office 610 are guilty of the crimes for which they are charged. And then we would have what is called a Damages Hearing in which we would ask the jury to award 1.7 billion dollars to return to the Plaintiffs for what they and their families have suffered.
If he does not come to court then we still have the ability to go forward with the case on his default. When one defaults, one can be found guilty as charged based on evidence that is brought before the court through evidence brought forward by the Plaintiffs, by International human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other third party reports. And in the same way, we could establish a case so that the judge would then find him guilty as charged; and could then very well award the same 1.7 billion dollars.