NEW HAVEN (FDI) – Falun Gong practitioners have filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court, District of Connecticut, against the former head of the Wuhan TV and Radio Bureau.
Former bureau chief Zhao Zhizhen (right) is served court papers charging him with genocide and conspiracy to commit torture.
Mr. Zhao Zhizhen was served with court papers while visiting New Heaven on Wednesday, July 14, 2004. He is charged with violating plaintiff’s human rights in the form of persecution, torture and other abuses with the intention to transform or exterminate the plaintiffs for their belief in Falun Gong.
During his tenure as director of the Wuhan TV and Radio Bureau, Zhao was responsible for producing films and other materials that led to the genocide of Falun Gong practitioners in Mainland China. Zhao broadcast and disseminated propaganda promoting the “re-education” of Falun Gong practitioners through torture and persecution in slave labor camps aimed at forcefully separating citizens from their chosen faiths.
Defendant Zhao Spearheads Hate Campaign
In June 1999, Zhao supervised the making of a film called “About Li Hongzhi,” according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG). A month later, the film became a primary tool for former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin to convince other Party members of the need to crush Falun Gong.
“In the next several months, as soon as turning on the TV, one would see this film; picking up any newspaper, one would see the same contents,” says plaintiff Chen Gang who was administratively detained and tortured in China for 18 months.
“This overwhelming distorted propaganda made many people who did not understand Falun Gong develop hatred and misunderstanding toward Falun Gong. Despite my clarification using my personal experience, many neighbors and colleagues still kept repeating those lies on TV and some started swearing [at me].”
Chen was transferred through several facilities for 18 months before U.S. congressmen were able to help him join his family in the U.S. last year. “No matter where I was sent, all the police officers and government officials were talking about things from Zhao’s film,” he says.
The film was also aired in the U.S. through China Central Television (CCTV), leading to negative attitudes toward Falun Gong in the overseas Chinese community. Such defamation has led to hate crimes in the U.S., of which two of the other plaintiffs have been victims, according to the attorney.
A Call to Carry Out Torture, Genocide
This lawsuit is the first to argue that the producers of propaganda against Falun Gong are responsible for the genocide and torture of Falun Gong practitioners in China and for the hate and harassment perpetrated against many who practice Falun Gong in the United States and worldwide.
According to co-consul for the plaintiffs Dr. Terri Marsh, “The Wuhan Broadcasting and TV Bureau and TV Network Station were given primary responsibility by the former President of the Peoples Republic of China to create a climate of hatred, fear and violence against persons who practice Falun Gong in China and abroad using the same propaganda tactics deployed in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, in Rwanda, during the genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutu, and in China during the Cultural Revolution.”
Dr. Marsh added, “In all of these violent massacres, the target is first demonized as having inherently evil qualities, equated with demonic forces, and portrayed as criminals, murderers, and enemies of the state. In China, such tactics, and the media programs of the Defendant, additionally call for the ‘transformation’ of practitioners [by torture] and/or their extra judicial killing.”
The plaintiffs’ local counsel Joshua Lanning commented, “The lawsuit is an important step in redressing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, not only in China but around the world. Chinese officials who chose to commit acts of oppression and violence against a citizen because of his or her beliefs should know that they can not avoid accountability simply because they control the laws of their country.”
Precedent Set in Rwanda Tribunal
Although this is the first case accusing a Chinese official of committing genocide through the mass media, a legal precedent was already set last December.
A U.N. tribunal for Rwanda convicted three Rwandan media executives of committing and inciting genocide with their words on government-sponsored radio.
“You were fully aware of the power of words,” wrote the presiding Judge, Navanethem Pillay. “Without a firearm, machete or any physical weapon, you caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians.”