Followers of Falun Gong, a traditional cultivation practice, filed a human rights abuse lawsuit in Madrid yesterday against China's former president Jiang Zemin.

Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted since 1999 by Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president who has gained the highest position in the Communist Party after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and is now in full command of the "6-10 Office."

The Chinese authority's reason for persecuting Falun Gong is that it is a force the Chinese authorities are unable to control, as well as the fact that its numbers exceeded the membership of the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore it was regarded as a threat. In 1999, the authorities estimated that five percent of the overall population believe in Falun Gong, which was more than 80 million.

Before the five years of persecution and arrests began, the Chinese government acknowledged Falun Gong and awarded its founder, Li Hongzhi, for his contribution to health improvements and positively changing people's lives. Nevertheless the crackdown has been in force since 1999. Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured, imprisoned, and some have even disappeared, yet all of these facts are considered national secrets and have been placed under extremely strict control by the government, with not a single word from Falun Gong practitioner being reported in China.

Based on a report from Amnesty International, the global lawsuits against Jiang, for his crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of more than 500 Falun Gong followers, have begun. Falun Gong information sources claim that the actual death toll is well over 2,000 [Ed. note -- the official death toll on Falun Dafa websites is 773 practitioners, whilst in 2001 Chinese government figures placed the number of deaths at over 1,600], though to find out the exact figure from official documents is impossible due to the strict information blockade.

The plaintiffs have also sued Jiang because he issued a directive to send more than 1,000 practitioners to mental hospitals, where they have been tortured and forced to take psychiatric drugs detrimental to the neural system, resulting in many cases of death or mental disability.

Wave of International Lawsuits Targets Persecution of Falun Gong

At present, lawsuits against Jiang have been filed in Chicago, Los Angeles, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Australia; in addition, Falun Gong have also obtained support from international organizations, such as Amnesty International, the International Human Rights Association, and over 80 Senators from the United States. Jiang is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and torture.

The "6-10 Office," an organization with the sole purpose of persecuting Falun Gong, is also targeting Falun Gong.

Chinese-Australian Jane Dai's husband, as well as her family and her husband's family, have all been victims of brutal persecution from the Chinese government. Ms Dai is busy on trips around Europe to tell the truth to the world. Falun Gong, the traditional cultivation practice, is a practice of meditation and exercise to improve people's body and mind.