More than 103,000 people in China and around the world have filed criminal complaints against former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin for his lead role in the persecution of Falun Gong, according to Minghui.org, a website devoted to reporting on the Falun Gong community.
Marking the anniversary of the day Jiang launched the violent suppression against the spiritual discipline on July 20, 1999, Falun Gong adherents held a rally in Edmonton’s Chinatown on Saturday, July 25, to raise awareness of the persecution and the rising wave of lawsuits against Jiang.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a traditional Chinese self-improvement practice that consists of moral teachings combined with a sitting meditation and four slow-moving Qigong-style exercises.
Introduced to the public in China in 1992, the practice, with its core principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, grew quickly and steadily due to its benefits to both physical and mental health.
By 1999 it had become the largest and fastest-growing practice of its kind in China, with 100 million adherents according to government estimates.
“I think any day that more Canadians are made aware of the plight of Falun Dafa in China and the persecution for no crime other than the threat that they pose to the Communist Party largely because of how popular they are and how many practitioners there are, … is positive,” said Brent Rathgeber, member of the Canadian Parliament for Edmonton-St. Albert, who spoke at the rally.
According to Erping Zhang, a spokesperson with the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC) based in New York, the wave of lawsuits against Jiang shows a “groundswell” of support across China and worldwide to bring Jiang to justice for torture, unlawful imprisonment, and more than a dozen additional crimes.
Minghui.org reports that official responses vary and that the authorities in some local areas still harass and arrest Falun Gong practitioners who file complaints. However, for the most part the Chinese courts have been accepting the lawsuits and people filing them aren’t suffering retaliation.
“Even just a year ago this was unheard of. This is big change with wide-reaching ramifications,” Zhang said in a statement, which was read at the rally.
According to Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, who along with former Canadian MP David Kilgour has investigated China’s harvesting of organs from living Falun Gong practitioners, the huge number of lawsuits offers hope.
“Complaints are being allowed. … It looks like it’s a movement against Jiang Zemin, the lead persecutor,” said Matas, according to the FDIC.
Rathgeber says he has nothing but hope and optimism that justice will one day be served, although, he said, “I’m sure it will take longer than we like.”
He said Canadians can help to end the persecution by writing letters to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa or by writing to their MPs.