The Epoch Times: Chinese Consulate Apparently Involved in Lawsuit against U.S. Hotel
Mar 18, 2005
Please see Part One of this series.
A Falun Gong practitioner braves the rain in Houston to displays a poem asking for help in ending the persecution. (Clearwisdom.net)
More questions than answers have arisen from a lawsuit by Falun Gong practitioners against the Atlanta-based Homestead hotel chain.
Plaintiffs in the civil suit against Homestead say they planned a trip to Houston in October 2002 to coincide with a visit from Jiang Zemin in order to raise public awareness about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. The court documents, obtained by The Epoch Times, contend that they were denied accommodation in Houston based on their beliefs.
"The 6-10 Office Is a Nasty Bunch"
Representing plaintiffs in the case against the hotel chain, Houston-based attorney Richard Ellison discovered the ugly underbelly of the Chinese Communist Party. Ellison says a unit created at the highest level of the Chinese Communist Party, known as the 6-10 Office, specifically targets Falun Gong practitioners.
"About three months ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article about how Chinese consular agents and agents from the embassies would go to businesses all over the country and pressure them here and all over the world. And it happened in Houston. Falun Gong practitioners had reservations at the Homestead to stay there. Then people from the Chinese Consulate went to Homestead. The next thing that happens is my clients get their reservations cancelled and Homestead rents their rooms out to the Chinese. The Office of the 610 is a nasty bunch."
When Ellison asked direct questions in the discovery phase of the case, Homestead's attorneys refused to answer key questions. Homestead may have spent tens of thousands of dollars to avoid the plaintiffs' only stated proviso.
"All we've asked Homestead to do is give a written apology," said Ellison. "They don't have to admit they violated the law. They just have to apologize for the way they treated Falun Gong practitioners, and for saying or implying they were potentially violent."
Ellison has delivered pleadings and discovery answers to the Justice Department, which has opened a separate investigation of Homestead for possible civil rights violations.
New York City Law Firm with Beijing Ties Engaged by Defendant
Homestead lawyers demanded in a countersuit that the Falun Gong practitioners pay the defendant's attorney fees.
Ellison says he responded, "Okay, you've got to tell me how much your client has paid in fees and who your client really is."
"They've ignored that, which makes me think: Why would a hotel chain that's strictly in business to make money want to engage a New York City law firm with working arrangements in Hong Kong, Beijing and everywhere else? I'm betting they spent $75,000 and it makes me wonder if the Chinese government is the real client."
Homestead has engaged the New York law firm of Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.
Attorney Ellison also questions a statement regarding the Secret Service.
"Homestead claims some Secret Service agent told them that my clients should be moved but they won't tell his name. Even though discovery rules require them, they just won't tell us. We are going to have to file a motion and take it up in front of a judge to get the name of the Secret Service agent. Frankly, I think Homestead is lying about that." Ellison is pressing forward with the civil rights action in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Department of Justice Investigation "Good for Everybody"
Spokesman for the plaintiffs, Dr. William Franklin McCoy, is delighted with the Justice Department decision. "It's good for the government and it's good for everybody in the country. Our government is now supporting the rights of Falun Gong practitioners whose civil rights have been violated by a foreign government. It's just wonderful."
The Justice Department investigation was announced by the Liberty Legal Institute, a Plano TX-based organization that defends religious liberties and First Amendment rights.
Those who practice Falun Gong say it is a traditional Chinese spiritual belief and cultivation practice of meditation and exercises based on the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.
Since July 1999, Jiang Zemin and the Chinese Communist Party have pursued a propaganda campaign and brutal suppression of Falun Gong practitioners resulting in the imprisonment, torture and killing of thousands. Hundreds of thousands have been imprisoned and more than 100,000 have been sentenced to forced labor camps, typically without trial.
Category: Persecution Outside China