April 4, 2002

WASHINGTON D.C.(CNN) -- Citing numerous acts of physical intimidation and vandalism in the United States, Falun Gong practitioners Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit in a U.S. District Court against two ministries of the People's Republic of China.

Falun Gong practitioners have been the subject of a strict [persecution] by the Chinese government

"China's regime has tried to justify its cruel persecution in the mainland by saying they're merely ensuring social stability and protecting the Chinese people from Falun Gong," said Gail Rachlin, one of nearly 50 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"But based on the regime's action here in the United States, we can see that the exact opposite is true."

She said her apartment was broken into three times in three months, with only her tax records stolen.

Other plaintiffs reported that conversations they recently had were played back to them over the phone, and told of home and office break-ins in which only member lists were stolen.

A car used by a practitioner to transport Falun Gong materials was set on fire and destroyed, the suit contends.

No arrests have been made in any of the cases cited by the group.

Martin McMahon, an attorney for the group, said there would have been more plaintiffs but they were afraid of reprisals.

The lawsuit names the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Public Security, as well as China Central Television as defendants.

"The Chinese government has stolen our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and we want it back," McMahon said.

In China, the group's leaders have been arrested and thousands of followers have been sent to "re-education" camps.

Followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have been the subject of a strict [persecution] by the government in China[...].