Washington (CNSNews.com) - Falun Gong practitioners on Tuesday staged a demonstration in downtown Washington in support of a lawsuit filed in U.S. courts charging former Chinese President Jiang Zemin with genocide.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 18 in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, accuses Jiang Zemin of establishing the Falun Gong Control Office to persecute Falun Gong followers.
Since opening the office in 1999, "hundreds of thousands of practitioners of Falun Gong in China have been arbitrarily arrested and sent to labor camps, jails, according to human rights groups, and many, many have been tortured," said Shiyu Szou, a Falun Gong practitioner and a professor in computer science at Rutgers University.
Szou said the former Chinese president and Communist Party leader authorized the office, also known as the 610 Office, to subject Chinese people to torture, genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Szou's father, a former high-ranking communist official, was arrested and detained for six months for practicing Falun Gong, Szou said.
The number of confirmed dead Falun Gong practitioners due to police brutality in prison is over 750, and thousands more have been put in mental hospitals in flagrant legal psychiatric abuses, Szou said.
"These are all good people. They just want to do this meditation practice for the benefits of health and spirituality," he said.
The Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that emphasizes truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, supporters said. The communist regime regards it as subversive.
Dr. Charles Li, an American citizen, was sentenced to three years in a Chinese prison for practicing Falun Gong, protesters said. Li's fiance, Yeong Ching Foo, said Li has been illegally held, force-fed and subjected to inhumane treatment since his arrest on Jan. 22.
"There is no justice in China. His only hope currently right now is [for] the U.S. government to help him," Foo said.
The State Department has confirmed that Li is being held at Nanjing Prison, where he is serving a three-year sentence for alleged sabotage of broadcast equipment.
The Illinois lawsuit invokes two U.S. laws - the Alien Tort Claim Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act - to justify allowing federal courts to hold Jiang Zemin accountable for genocide, torture and other crimes against humanity.
The Bush administration sought to dismiss the case, reportedly to shield Jiang Zemin. However, a bipartisan congressional group, led by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Rep Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), asked the federal judge to allow the case, arguing that foreign policy concerns should not override the right of the courts to decide whether a leader is no longer immune when he retires from office.
At a hearing June 12, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly granted the House members' request to join the case as a friend of the court, or amicus curiae.
"It's still open, as of right now," a spokeswoman for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois said.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the case while it is still in litigation.