(Clearwisdom.net) On May 17, 2004, Falun Gong practitioners and their lawyer, Mr. Barrie Goldsmith, held a press conference at St Martin's Square in busy downtown Sydney to reveal the details of their defamation lawsuit against a local Chinese newspaper, known in English as 2ac. The lawyer has submitted the file to New South Wales Supreme Court. Mr. Barrie Goldsmith, representative of Sydney Falun Dafa Association John Deller and some Falun Gong practitioners answered questions raised by the media on the spot. Many media outlets, including ABC TV, SBS Radio, AAP News Agency, NTD TV and SOP Radio came to conduct interviews.

Background of the lawsuit against the Chinese newspaper

Representative of the Falun Dafa Association John Deller stated that the lawsuit was brought about by an article published in the Chinese newspaper on December 18, 2003. The article seriously attacked Falun Gong, likening Falun Gong to the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, and alleging that Falun Gong is an "evil cult." The newspaper stated when publishing the article that the information was from a spokesperson for the Sydney Chinese Consulate General, but the report seriously distorted the facts, damaged the reputation of Falun Gong practitioners, had an extremely bad influence on the public, and caused great harm to Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Dafa Association is a legally registered organization in Australia and is protected by Australian laws. Before seeking a legal solution, Falun Gong practitioners negotiated with the newspaper in hopes that the newspaper would follow the principle of fair and objective reporting and offer an apology to Falun Gong for publishing an article that did not have any basis in fact; however, the newspaper declined the offer. Without any other ways to seek justice, Falun Gong practitioners decided to take legal action and sue the newspaper in both a class-action and individual action lawsuits.

Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an ancient Chinese cultivation practice based on the universal principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Since Falun Gong was introduced to the public in 1992, it has been spread to more than 60 countries across the world in 12 years. More than 100 million people of different races and nationalities are practicing it. The book Zhuan Falun, which contains the main teachings of Falun Gong, has been translated into more than 20 languages. Falun Dafa has been honored with more than 1,000 awards and proclamations from many countries.

One of the plaintiff Falun Gong practitioners, Lee Cheezhong said, "Aum Shinrikyo killed many Japanese people by releasing sarin gas in the Tokyo subway. However, Falun Gong is a peaceful qigong group composed of people from all walks of life who conduct themselves according to the principle of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, work hard and diligently, and selflessly make contributions to society. They have also influenced people around them, and fostered the upgrading of morality in society, playing an active role in creating a more spiritual civilization. But the article published in 2ac Chinese newspaper compared Falun Gong to a group of people who have caused great harm to society, causing the worst possible associations in the public mind. Moreover, the newspaper repeatedly published articles that defamed Falun Gong. Although practitioners negotiated with the newspaper several times in hopes we could clarify the facts in the newspaper, the newspaper rejected all of our offers, including a letter from the practitioners' lawyer. At last, a legal summons was delivered to their lawyer, and they have no way to escape this time." (translated from the Chinese)

The media have freedom of press but they must also be responsible for the contents they publish

At the press conference, when a journalist asked whether the freedom of press means that the media can arbitrarily publish articles they receive, regardless of the content of the articles, the lawyer for the Falun Dafa Association, Mr. Barrie Goldsmith, stated that the freedom of press doesn't allow people to irresponsibly and arbitrarily publish information from other sources. Any television station, radio station, or newspaper should be responsible for the news contents they publish. A general rule is that the media cannot arbitrarily publish anything others provide without being responsible for it themselves. One of the plaintiffs, Falun Gong practitioner Lee Cheezhong, believed that there is the right of freedom of press overseas, but the freedom of press should be based on the truth.

Jiang's group in China manipulates the media, deprives people of their right to know, disseminates propaganda conforming to their needs, stops all voices they don't like to hear, and brainwashes the people. They control the public through such methods. And then, the people who have been brainwashed voluntarily attack dissidents on behalf of the dictator and safeguard his interests. Such control and utilization over the media, and depriving people of their right to know is evil. If such methods are used to incite hatred and persecution, it is an even bigger crime.

It has been reported that there have been some precedents for putting the media on trial around the world. When the UN Criminal Court dealt with Rwanda's Genocide case on December 3, 2003, the court made a severe verdict, sentencing two defendants to life imprisonment, and the third defendant to 35 years of imprisonment. The three persons were the founder of RTLM TV Station, a magazine publisher and a former senior official at the same TV station. According to an AFP report on December 3, 2003, RTLM TV Station once blatantly instigated the slaughter of innocent people.

According to a report from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, since October 2002, Jiang Zemin and people from the "610 Office," an organization in charge of persecuting Falun Gong, have been sued for crimes of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity in Chicago, Spain, Taiwan, Germany, Korea and Belgium.

Stop Jiang's group from exporting hatred overseas and inciting hatred and persecution overseas

Falun Dafa Association Representative John Deller believed that articles published in the 2ac Chinese newspaper that slandered Falun Gong actually represent the Jiang's group's extending its hatred and persecution of Falun Gong abroad, and inciting hatred overseas.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to stop the Chinese newspaper from continuously publishing lies about Falun Gong and commentary articles that slander Falun Gong. At the same time, John Deller thought it would be a good reminder to all overseas Chinese media, that they should not irresponsibly publish fabricated news that defames Falun Gong, a legal organization. Thus, it can effectively stop Jiang's group from exporting hatred overseas.

According to a report from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, Jiang's group has manipulated the state media during the entire process of persecuting Falun Gong, constantly trumping up various lies such as murder cases and suicide cases on TV and in newspapers and other media to frame Falun Gong. At the same time, they deprived Falun Gong of any opportunity to clarify the truth, and blocked all information channels to prevent people from learning the truth about Falun Gong. However outside China, since Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong began, during the past five years, the people around the world have witnessed the rationality, peacefulness, kindness, perseverance and tolerance demonstrated by Falun Gong practitioners when facing the persecution. The practitioners only want to have a legal environment to practice the exercises, and to have the right to believe in Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. What they oppose is only the persecution imposed upon them. Through Falun Gong practitioners' unceasing truth clarification to various segments of society, the public's understanding of Falun Gong has become clearer.

The initial hearing for this case will be held on Friday, May 21 between lawyers for both sides and the court.