Five high-ranking Chinese officials have been indicted in Spain for genocide and torture of Falun Gong practitioners.
In a groundbreaking case, following a two-year investigation, a Spanish judge has accepted charges of genocide and torture in a case filed against five high-ranking Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials for their role in the persecution of Falun Gong.
This is the first time that a court has recognized the campaign against the group as legally fitting the definition of genocide. If the defendants were in Spain, the court could call them before the judge for a hearing.
“This historic decision by a Spanish judge means that Chinese Communist Party leaders responsible for brutal crimes are now one step closer to being brought to justice,” said Carlos Iglesias, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Between 2003 and 2007 fifteen victims of persecution filed criminal complaints against each of the five CCP officials under a Spanish law that enables individuals or their lawyers to initiate private prosecutions (acciones populares). Four complaints were combined into one case, the facts of which a judge from Spain’s National Court (Audiencia Nacional) has been investigating since 2006; the fifth was added later.
On Nov. 11, Iglesias received a letter from the National Court saying the charges of genocide and torture had been accepted.
Among the accused is ex-leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Zemin. Jiang is widely acknowledged as the initiator and primary driver behind the campaign launched in 1999 to “eradicate” Falun Gong. According to Chinese regime statistics at the time, an estimated 70 to 100 million people were practicing the discipline that combines slow-moving exercises and spiritual teachings.
In order to implement Jiang’s decision to wipe out the group, the country’s state-run media, security apparatus, and network of “re-education through labor camps” were mobilized in full force. Since then, experts estimate that hundred of thousands, possibly millions, of practitioners have been sent to labor camps, prisons, and thought reform classes.
Human rights groups and Western media reports have documented the systematic use of torture to force Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their faith. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, over 3,000 practitioners are documented to have been killed, many due to torture, since 1999.
“The perpetrators of the genocide and torture will be confronted with two trials,” Iglesias said. “One of justice in front of the courts, and another, judgement in front of history, for having committed the biggest of all atrocities: the persecution of millions of persons whose only intention is to improve their ethical, moral, and spiritual qualities, following universal values.”
Also facing charges of genocide and torture in the Spanish case is Luo Gan, former head of the 610 Office, an extrajudicial agency set up to lead and coordinate the campaign against Falun Gong. Chinese human rights lawyers have compared the 610 Office to Nazi Germany’s Gestapo in its operations, brutality, and extraordinary authority.
The other three accused are Bo Xilai, current Party Secretary for Chongqing and former Minister of Commerce; Jia Qinglin, the fourth-highest member of the Party hierarchy; and Wu Guanzheng, head of an internal Party disciplinary committee. The charges against the three are based on their alleged proactive advancement of the anti-Falun Gong campaign during their time as top officials in Liaoning, Beijing, and Shandong respectively.
According to evidence presented before the court, Jia had reportedly given speeches urging lower officials to persecute Falun Gong and commended security units for their "success" in the "fight" against the spiritual practice. In 2002, he made the campaign one of Beijing's top five priorities.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning article from 2000 by the Wall Street Journal’s Ian Johnson documents how financial punishments and political pressure imposed by Wu on his subordinates led Weifang city authorities to torture—and sometimes kill—local residents who practiced Falun Gong.
Judge Moreno has spent two years investigating the case, following a Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) ruling from June 2006 that ordered Spanish courts to accept the case based on a law enabling them to exercise universal jurisdiction. This legal principle allows domestic courts to hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity regardless of where they occur and the nationality of the defendant.
Evidence considered by the judge during the investigation process included written testimonies from fifteen Falun Gong practitioners and oral testimonies from seven. The judge also relied on reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Foundation, and the U.N. Commission of Human Rights to reach his decision, Iglesias said.
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