Moderator (M): The philosophical Falun Gong movement, which is forbidden in China, goes to court in The Netherlands. The Dutch adherents of this movement accuse former Chinese President Jiang Zemin of genocide and torture of Falun Gong practitioners. Liesbeth Zegveld is the lawyer for the Dutch Falun Gong Association. Good morning.
Liesbeth Zegveld (LZ): Good morning
M: You are going to file a complaint?
LZ: That’s right.
M: What’s in the complaint?
LZ: The complaint is about genocide and torture committed by Jiang Zemin, former president of China, and a number of other figures that are taking part in this.
M: And why does China actually persecute these Falun Gong adherents?
LZ: Well, that’s difficult to know completely but it has to do with the threat to the communist system, a threat to the current power. You must know that there are more than 100 million Falun Gong practitioners, of which 70 million reside in China. This is such a large number that if one indeed were to perceive them as a political movement, which they absolutely are not, then it could be perceived as a threat to power. But as I said, absolutely unjustified, but I think …
M: That’s what is behind it. And now you will file the complaint, and then?
LZ: Then, in principle it’s up to the public prosecutor to judge whether the facts that we file are unlawful and if it can indeed be qualified as genocide or torture; whether there is enough evidence for this and if The Netherlands have the jurisdiction to prosecute these facts.
M: Yes, but why would a Dutch judge bother, however sad it may be, with torture and genocide in China?
LZ: Because there are Dutch victims.
M: How many?
LZ: We do not have a concrete number at hand, but in this instance we adopted 2 cases as examples of what happened to Dutch Falun Gong practitioners.
M: But of course you want more. You want that it’s dealt with in principle?
LZ: Yes of course. Falun Gong is not limited to borders; genocide is not limited to borders either. It’s a global problem and today, because we have the International Criminal Court here in The Hague and we have the Yugoslavia Tribune, these penal facts - these serious penal facts - should be recognised by all countries. Otherwise, we cannot handle the problem. China, at least, will never do something about it. So it will be up to other countries and it is a really serious problem. It has been affirmed by Amnesty International that about 1200 people have died already, for which we actually have evidence.
M: But suppose you really succeed in this, that in The Netherlands a judge will take up this case and maybe even come to a conviction of Jiang Zemin. And then the next question is so what?
LZ: Well, the question for the prosecution will be “so what?” Of course it’s true that Jiang Zemin is not here. If that’s what you are referring to, you are right. I don’t see it coming to a conviction as long as he is not here. But you can of course issue an arrest warrant or prepare the case in such a way that if he comes, then you can catch him. And that puts some pressure on the matter. If this happens in more countries, then he is not free to go where he wants anymore.
M: Does he have to be in Holland to be arrested?
LZ: The jurisdiction of The Netherlands stops at the Dutch borders. The Netherlands can issue an arrest warrant and request that he be apprehended in other countries if they want to go that far. That’s of course what we hope for, but that remains to be seen. Dutch authorities can only arrest him on Dutch territory.
M: Ok, Liesbeth Zegveld, lawyer for the Dutch Falun Gong Association. Many thanks.
LZ: My pleasure.
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