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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Visiting Chinese diplomat served $6M lawsuit

Falun Gong practitioners claim official is guilty of crimes against humanity

Leave it to Beijing to label a torturer the 'JFK of China'. We'll see Bo in court. Look for more here

National Post by Melissa Leong, Published: Monday, May 28, 2007 - Falun Gong practitioners charge that a visiting Chinese diplomat is guilty of crimes against humanity and served him with a lawsuit yesterday afternoon in the elevator of an Ottawa hotel.

A member of the Falun Gong spiritual movement gave Bo Xilai, China's Minister of Commerce, a statement of claim that alleges he "orchestrated and led a campaign of terror" while serving as mayor of the coastal city Dalian and deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for the Liao Ning Province.

Rong Jin, a 27-year-old former Chinese resident, is seeking $6.25-million in damages claiming that she was detained on two occassions in Dalian prisons, where she was tortured in 2000 for practising Falun Gong.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Mr. Bo met with David Emerson, Canada's Trade Minister, yesterday to discuss investment and commercial relations while dozens of Falun Gong members demonstrated outside of the Foreign Affairs headquarters.

"I have known Minister Bo for 10 years, since he was the Mayor of Dalian and ... he's my counterpart, we have a tremendous amount of work to do together and [I have] a tremendous respect for him," Mr. Emerson told reporters yesterday.

"What is transpiring in terms of these other issues, I really have no comment on that."

Falun Gong practitioners complained that the RCMP kept them from serving Mr. Bo with legal documents, which police cited was for security reasons. Lin Di, an Ottawa resident, later presented Mr. Bo with the papers at The Westin as he stood in an elevator. "He wouldn't accept it. I threw it to him."

Mr. Bo or the Chinese embassy have 40 days to file a statement of defence or Ms. Rong can ask for a judgment in his absence, said Lawrence Greenspon, a human rights lawyer in Ottawa who has taken the case. Ms. Rong is able to sue Mr. Bo in Canada because she continues to suffer damages, he added.

"When I remember my experience in China when I was a freshman in university, it is a nightmare," said Ms. Rong, an accountant now living in Toronto. "I hope this lawsuit will be helpful to my local practitioners, to free them from jail."

The statement of claim was issued in Superior Court in 2005 when Mr. Bo was scheduled to visit Canada. He did not make the trip. The statement of claim was reissued last week.

Mr. Bo, a charismatic politician who has been called the John F. Kennedy of China, has been accused of torture and murder in lawsuits brought by Falun Gong practitioners in several countries.

Calls to the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China and its embassy in Ottawa were not returned yesterday. In a statement posted to its Canadian embassy's Web site, the Chinese government called Falun Gong a "cult" that has "degenerated into an anti-China political organization."

Mr. Greenspon said the lawsuit also helps raise public awareness about the alleged injustices in China.

"At the very least, their hope is Canada should not be playing host to people of authority who are responsible for torture," he said.

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