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Falun Gong Anti-Defamation Case vs. Quebec Chinese Language Newspaper Gains Ground
Matthew Little/The Epoch Times
Jan 04, 2004
MONTREAL - Les Presses Chinoises, a Chinese language newspaper based in Quebec, will face contempt of court charges after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed their application for leave to appeal the suit brought against them by Falun Gong practitioners.
The contempt of court proceedings arose when Les Presses Chinoises violated a safeguard order issued by the court to stop publishing hate literature about Falun Gong. The order was issued after Les Presses Chinoises was brought to court on defamation charges by Falun Gong practitioners after the paper repeatedly refused to stop publishing slanderous articles about the meditation practice. The defamation suit is still unfolding.
Beginning in November 2001, Les Presses Chinoises published a series of “reports” and articles slandering Falun Gong, with what was described by many as “the most extreme language.”
“The hate literature in Les Presses Chinoises repeats word for word the Chinese authorities’ ... defamations used to demonize Falun Gong and justify the People's Republic of China’s brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners [in China],” said petitioner Yumin Yang.
Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation system based on the principles of truth, compassion and tolerance was outlawed in Mainland China in 1999 after followers conducted a large but peaceful appeal to the central government.
The appeal followed in the wake of ongoing harassment and a series of arrests carried out by Chinese authorities. China experts suggest that the popularity of Falun Gong and its promotion of traditional Chinese spiritual beliefs were seen as threatening by the communist regime and ex-president Jiang Zemin.
On December 10, 2001, the Quebec Superior Court issued the first safeguard order to prohibit Les Presses Chinioses from publishing defaming articles against Falun Gong or its practitioners. The paper appealed the decision, but it was upheld by Québec Superior Court Judge Reynald Fréchette on Jan.11, 2002.
Ignoring court orders, Les Presses Chinoises and editor Bing He ignored these orders, publishing a 12-page insert of what is described as “Mainland China hate propaganda.”
In his testimony during the trial, Shen Li Lin, who spent 18 months in a Chinese labor camp for practicing Falun Gong described how the articles had affected him.
“I was rescued from a Chinese labor camp by Canada’s government and people. I thought I could freely practice my belief in this free land…However, in a Chinese newspaper in Canada, I read the ... articles I once faced in a forced labor camp…The already fading memory of the two years’ forced labor camp life again came into my mind and heart. I could not sleep and eat.”
On February 7, 2002 the Quebec Supreme Court expanded the safeguard order to include further restrictions on Les Presses Chinoises in its publications because of its violation of the existing safeguard order.
Following the second safeguard order, Les Presses Chinoises appealed the charges and won. The contempt of court case was dismissed leaving Falun Gong practitioners to wonder if they were going to have to relive the hate and slander they suffered in China.
Justice Beaudoin wrote in his judgement: “… It appears that most, if not all of these texts, were taken from quasi official statements made by the Chinese government which apparently has attempted by various means to prevent the spreading of the Falun Gong doctrine and to discredit its members in certain expatriate Chinese communities…”
He continued, “I am of the opinion that the appeal should be allowed, the judgment of the Superior Court quashed and the contempt proceeding returned to the Superior Court for jurisdiction.”
Mr. Michael Bergman, legal counsel for Falun Gong practitioners, applauded the decision as “an important step to completely halt hate incitement of Les Presses Chinoises and the hate from the Chinese government here in Canada.”
On Thursday December 11, 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the final application for leave to appeal by Les Presses Chinoises and cleared the way for Falun Gong practitioners to pursue its “contempt of court” charges against the newspaper.
Les Presses Chinoises now faces a contempt of court lawsuit in addition to the original defamation lawsuit.
During the evidentiary portion of the trial last month, Chau, the publisher of the newspaper, admitted that the material published in early November of 2001 against Falun Gong was “incoherent and irrational.” He also admitted that he personally wrote many of the anti-Falun Gong articles, even though neither he nor his staff had ever interviewed any practitioner, nor had he read any of the Falun Gong teachings at that time.
Michael Bergman, legal counsel for the petitioners, expressed his satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision. “Once again, our court demonstrated its willingness to allow minority groups to pursue and prove in court those persons who deny them their right to equality, respect and dignity in Canadian society.”
“Falun Gong practitioners, by their vigorous pursuit of their civil rights before the courts of law, have demonstrated their belief that our Canadian law and social order can be upheld by the legal system,” finished Bergman.
Lucy Zhou, a plaintiff for the case, said, “The Supreme Court decision is very significant in Falun Gong practitioners’ efforts to stop the hate propaganda that has been justifying and fueling the persecution for over four years. The hate propaganda orchestrated by the Communist regime inside and outside of China has made the Chinese community apathetic to the brutal torture and killing of practitioners. We hope that people’s consciences will awaken. It is long overdue for the persecution to be stopped.”
Third party sources including Amnesty International claim that hundreds, if not thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured to death in Chinese labor camps and brainwashing centers. Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI) in New York places the total number of confirmed deaths at 840.
|Copyright 2003 Epochtimes|