Australia: Singtao Daily Withdraws Wrong Report about Downer Lawsuit and Apologizes

By a practitioner in Australia

On the morning of December 14, 2006, Judge Ken Crispin of the Australian Capital
Territory (ACT) Supreme Court issued a final verdict on a legal case against
Foreign Minister Downer. The judge ruled that defendant Downer pay the plaintiff’s
legal fees of $20,000, and the case is closed. Defendant Downer promised not
to continue signing certificates restricting the Falun Gong practitioners’ peaceful
protests in front of the Chinese Embassy. It was truly puzzling that Singtao
Daily in Australia should carry the opposite of the truth in its paper. The
report was written by Nan Luan and printed on the front page. It stated that
the plaintiffs were ordered to pay defendant Downer $20,000.

Plaintiff Dai Zhizhen called the newspaper many times and went to the Singtao
Daily Syndey Office to request an open correction notice. Without getting any
clear response, Ms. Dai filed a complaint to the Australia Press Council to
seek a solution. Executive Secretary Herman said that the mission of this council
is to safeguard the accuracy of news reports and those deemed incorrect should
not be published.

Singtao Daily Deletes Wrong Report and Posts a Correction Notice to Apologize

After efforts on the part of the plaintiffs, Singtao Daily deleted the wrong
report from its website and posted a correction notice on December 20, a Tuesday.
The Notice states, "Through investigation, it should be that the Judge
ruled Downer pays the $20,000 lawsuit cost. This newspaper specially makes this
correction and apologizes for any consequences."

Ms. Dai pointed out, "The correction is our basic request. My purpose
is to have the wrong report corrected as early as possible in an effective manner
and reduce the bad consequences to the Australia public."

Background for practitioners’ lawsuit against Foreign Minister Downer

In order to safeguard basic human rights, Falun Gong practitioners in Australia
gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy and held banners calling for an end
to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) persecution of Falun Gong in China.
On March 16, 2002, one day before Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan visited
Australia, under the CCP’s pressure and using his power, Foreign Minister Downer
signed the first certificate to restrict practitioners from displaying banners
in front of the Chinese Embassy. The stated reason was that practitioners’ banners
and music violated the dignity of Chinese delegations and the Embassy. Since
then, Downer signed the certificate each month.

For years the practitioners attempted to have dialog with Foreign Minister
Downer in order to solve the issue, but did not get any response. The practitioners
sought help from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. President
John von Doussa suggested that the practitioners seek legal means to stop Downer’s
signing the certificate. Thus, on June 8, 2005, practitioners Zhang Cuiying
and Dai Zhizhen brought a lawsuit against Mr. Downer in the ACT Supreme Court
and requested the court to order Downer not to sign the certificates.

Court Ruling

Judge Crispin said that Mr. Downer stopped signing the certificate from March
11, 2006, after taking clear direction from the law. In the sixth paragraph,
the judge mentioned that the lawyer for the defendant wrote to plaintiffs to
seek reconciliation outside court on March 11, 2006.

The ruling read, "His Honour noted that during the hearing on 1st Nov.
"Mr Howe,who appeared for the defendant,gave the court an undertaking on
his client’s behalf to the effect that the defendant would not issue further
certificates in effectively identical terms." (paragraph 16)

In paragraph 19 of the ruling, "…undertaking given to this Court is,of
course,enforceable in the same way as an injunction. Indeed,this may have offered
the plaintiffs more protection that could have been obtained by means of any
injunction that they might have been disposed to make."

In para 23,the Court reaffirmed the right of people in democratic societies
like Australia to protest about abuses of human rights. His Honour said, "The
rights enjoyed by citizens in this country to engage in lawful protests are
well recognized. Police officers plainly have no authority to interfere with
such rights…"

After explaining the reasons and conditions above, the judge thought that the
case should be closed and ordered Mr. Downer to pay $20,000.

Judge Crispin stated, "An undertaking rather than an injunction,and [Falun
Gong] will be free to continue their protest without the limitations that had
been imposed upon them earlier by the certificates."

With regard to the persecution of Falun Gong in China, Judge Crispin in the
verdict said that first-hand information and various investigation reports demonstrate
that Falun Gong practitioners are persecuted in China. The persecution is a
key issue. He specifically mentioned that he was moved by the death of the first
plaintiff Dai Zhizhen’s husband due to torture by the CCP regime. (para 21)

Ms. Dai said, "For over seven years, the CCP uses a whole country’s resource
to conduct genocide against a peaceful practice group of people, adopts extreme
means to spread lies across the world, and persecutes and isolates the innocent
Falun Gong practitioners. Overseas people, including Downer and the Chinese
community, are deceived by the CCP’s lies. Thus, the court ruling is significant.
It indicates that the CCP’s persecution is failing and very unpopular."

Ms. Dai further stated, "The unprecedented most evil persecution has not
been stopped. We will continue peaceful truth-clarification in various means
to call for an end to the persecution."

Posting date: 5/Jan/2006
Original article date: 27/Dec/2006
Category: Australian News


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