The Epoch Times

Dec 11, 2004

CANADA -- Over a 120 torture victims are asking Canada's Attorney General Irwin Cotler to prosecute China's former dictator Jiang Zemin. The victims, who suffered under Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong in China, are trying to invoke Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. The case is unprecedented in Canada.

The group's lawyers, David Matas, an international law expert, and Joe Arvay, announced the request in Vancouver late last month. In order for the case to move forward, Irwin Cotler must give his consent to a government prosecution under the Act.

To fulfill Canada's obligations the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Canada's parliament passed the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act in 2000. It provides a way to prosecute human rights abusers responsible for genocide and torture.

So far the Act has not been used to prosecute anyone for crimes against humanity or genocide, but David Matas said Canada can prosecute crimes against humanity that occur outside the country when a Canadian citizen is involved.

Matas added that Professor Kunlun Zhang, who is a Canadian citizen, was detained four times, tortured, and deprived his of liberty simply because he practices Falun Gong.

The Canadian media reported Zhang's rescue back to Canada in 2001 with the help of Parliament and Canadian diplomacy.

Prof. Zhang, 64, is the central figure in three Canadian legal initiatives. He recalled a time when he was threatened with an electric shock baton to his mouth if he dared to open it. "I was not even allowed to cry out."

The motive for suing his torturers in Canada is simple: "To stop what happened to me from happening to others."

Earlier this year Zhang submitted a request to Irwin Cotler for a private prosecution under the Canadian Criminal Code of his torturers. He is also part of a 20 million dollar civil suit filed with the Ontario Supreme Court this week.

Matas said Friday that Canadian Falun Gong practitioners are willing to exhaust all possible legal remedies. A Falun Gong Website confirms that legal initiatives have been filed in over 22 countries that target Chinese officials for crimes such as torture and genocide. "This is a global effort, and Canada is a part of it," said Matas.

Clive Ansley, a former professor of Chinese law and a litigation lawyer in China for 14 years was present to support the Vancouver press conference on Friday. "Where can justice be served in a situation like this?" he said. "The court in China is not a court but is a tool of the Communist Party."

Joe Arvay, principal author of the legal request, wrote, "There is clearly no prospect of a fair and real prosecution in China...since China has not ratified the Rome Statute, there is no possibility of indictment by an international tribunal. Canada is in a unique position to assert jurisdiction."

Arvay states a strong Canadian connection as further evidence. Among the 120 victims residing in Canada who are represented in the request, there are Canadian citizens who suffered detention, harassment and interrogation, Canadian permanent residents who suffered persecution or those who became residents after being persecuted. Some are the Canadians whose daily lives are filled with mental anguish over the forced detention of their loved ones in China.