Wednesday, February 08, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) -- A Chinese government official is the focus of a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit alleging a "campaign of terror'' against followers of Falun Gong.

The five Canadian residents suing Chen Zhili, who was China's education minister, claim she made key decisions and had control over those who carried out torture and persecution.

"She did so contrary to and acting outside Chinese and international laws and the legal authority of her office,'' says the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Court documents allege she is not entitled to immunity under international law from the lawsuit.

The group is asking for $20 million in compensation for general and special damages, future care costs, and lost wages.

A statement of claim said while Chen was education minister from 1998 to 2003 she was at the top of a chain of command in the Chinese government, "and participated in the systematic, organized and widespread campaign of persecution of Falun Gong throughout the Chinese education system.''


Kunlun Zhang, Rong Jin, Wenyu Liu, Ying Zhu, and Guo Zhaoxia are either Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or in one case a PhD student at the University of Calgary. The plaintiffs live in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Each of Chen's accusers make allegations of a series of arrests, detentions, beatings, and electric-shock treatments because they were followers of Falun Gong.

The plaintiffs claim they have a right to bring the lawsuit in Canada because they all live in the country, because they would be unable to obtain justice in the Chinese judicial system, and because persecution of Falun Gong continues in China.

They say they worry for their safety if they have to return to China to pursue a claim.