10 September 2003

An Academic has launched a legal challenge over China's alleged human rights abuses.

Dr Li Shao, a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, is among a group who have brought a lawsuit in Iceland against Chinese official Luo Gan.

It charges him with torture, genocide and crimes against humanity, and has been timed to coincide with Gan's visit to Iceland this week.

The claims center on the Chinese government's treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.


Luo Gan is head of the Chinese government's 6-10 Office, which was set up in 1999 to eradicate Falun Gong.

There have since been claims of the systematic imprisonment and abuse of Falun Gong followers.

The latest legal action has been brought jointly by a group of around a dozen Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world, including Dr Shao.

They are represented by Icelandic human rights lawyer Ragnar Adalsteinsson.

The Post has reported how Dr Shao, from Wollaton, and his wife Jane, fought to free her sister Wenjian Liang from a labour camp.

She was imprisoned without trial in 2000 for a year for involvement with Falun Gong, and has since been cleared.

"Wenjian is free because we, as her relatives, could campaign for her, but other people are not so fortunate," said 39-year-old Dr Shao. "There are 100,000 people who have been sent to labour camps in China, and Luo Gan can decide which practitioners are sent there, without any recourse to legal procedures. We must press on with the campaign for justice."

Dr Shao also believes that the death of his mother-in-law was directly linked to stress caused by Wenjian's detention.

She died within months of Wenjian being sent to the camp.

The practitioners' case is based on the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and Icelandic courts are authorized to hear cases on UN violations.

If the state prosecutor decides to proceed with the case, he has the power to call Dr Shao and Luo Gan to give evidence.

Luo Gan, Chinese president Jiang Zemin and the 6-10 Office have been named

in lawsuits filed in Belgium, France and the US, alleging torture, genocide and crimes against humanity.