This essay will be published by the Magazine Huso Crítico of the University
of Guadalajara in its Summer 2008 edition. It has already elicited reactions,
such as the article, ‘El mal absoluto’ (Absolute evil), published in the newspaper
Milenio by journalist and academician Fernando Solana Olivares, or the criticism
of the Chinese government in an article by journalist Irene Selser, daughter
of the prestigious Argentine exile Gregorio Selser, who died in Mexico. With
support from local authorities and as a member of the Coalition for the Research
of Persecution against Falun Gong (CIPFG), the author recently organized a mass
rally in Texcoco, a rural district close to Mexico City, promoting the prohibition
of Chinese products for humanitarian reasons, by denouncing the existence of
forced labor camps in China. He was also interviewed on the television program
"Va en serio" (Seriously speaking) run by Channel 34 journalist Carlos
Ramos Padilla. This program had a significant impact on the audience. A recording
of the act in Texcoco and the television interview are available on Youtube.
Gerardo de la Concha is the author of several books, such as ‘El fin de lo sagrado.
Modernidad y catolicismo en México’; ‘El último dios. El dominio
del becerro de oro en el mundo actual’, ‘Los réprobos y los devotos’
(the latter published by the Autonomous National University of Mexico). His
most recent publication is the prologue to the book by A. N. Wilson, Los funerales
de Dios, published by Editorial Océano, which is a study of Western religion
and secularization. Gerardo de la Concha is also a political communication consultant
and has occupied senior Government positions as advisor to the Office of the
President and to the Office of the Attorney General.
AN INTERNATIONAL TRIAL FOR JIANG ZEMIN
By: Gerardo De la Concha
In July 1999 the President of the People´s Republic of China, Jiang Zemin,
ordered the establishment of Office 610, directed specifically at the persecution
of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice with millions of followers in China; (1)
it is calculated that at the time the practice had over 70 million followers.
According to testimonies and direct sources, independent research and the work
of civil and official organizations such as Amnesty International and the Human
Rights Commission of the UNO, this decision brought about a large-scale human
catastrophe: thousands of people murdered, tortured, exiled, hundreds of people
deported to concentration camps, (2) the marketing of organs for transplants
using prisoners who were conscientious followers of Falun Gong, denounced and
documented by David Kilgour and David Matas, two prestigious international defenders
of human rights. (3) The use of slave labor in these camps. (4)
Another measure taken by the government involved the internment of followers
in psychiatric hospitals called Ankangs, which means "centers of peace
and wellbeing", (5) a reminder of the use of lunatic asylums in the Soviet
Union to repress dissidents, and of the use of brainwashing techniques developed
in the 50s decade in Maoist China and imitated by the MK Ultra program of the
American CIA. (6) The Chinese government incriminates itself by using the testimonies
of these victims in its political propaganda publications, some of which currently
denounce themselves – in agreement with the government – indicating that Falun
Gong is a "devilish sect", (7) in a pathetic demonstration similar
to the strategy used to force victims to confess under the Inquisition or in
the Stalinist cleansings.
The motives – or lack of motives – that led Jiang Zemin and his followers to
initiate this ferocious persecution which, now with a different leadership team,
has not yet ceased to persecute Falun Gong, include: a) the rapid expansion
that Falun Gong was enjoying and the paranoia of the Chinese tyranny in the
face of a movement that it could not control; b) the ideological fear of the
principles of "truth, benevolence and tolerance" propounded by Falun
Gong which could cause an eventual collective dissidence; c) the lack of respect
for freedom of conscience, and the systematic persecution by the Chinese regime
of spiritual religions and communities that are not under government control,
such as the Catholic movements identified with the Vatican, evangelicals, Tibetan
Buddhists, etcetera; d) the use of methods of repression to consolidate the
power of the governing group -there are complaints, for example, of corruption
connected with the discretionary funds handled by the Office 610-, (8) and e)
what I call the teaching of terror, in other words, the manner in which a totalitarian
governing group "teaches" the rest of society to be disciplined through
the exemplary treatment of a group that it has decided to ban.
It is yet to be defined whether the decision of Jiang Zemin specifically against
Falun Gong can be typified as a crime against Humanity, and whether the known
facts establish liability for serious crimes that infringe the rules of international
law. (9) Although, from a philosophical viewpoint, we are faced with a phenomenon
that constitutes an expression of absolute evil, (10) it is important to analyze
it from a purely legal approach, because it involves not only the trial of a
genocide committed in the past, but additionally that of a continued crime.
From my point of view, three of the legal conditions required to typify the
genre of crime against Humanity are present -together with other associated
crimes against international law- in the persecution of Falun Gong and the inherent
liability of Jiang Zemin, former President of the People´s Republic of
China, as the initiator, and of his accomplices Luo Gan and Lin Linquin, leaders
of the Office 610.
1º. The decision to exterminate a national group. Extermination must be
interpreted as "physical extermination" and as the suppression of
the existence of a national group. The murders committed against followers of
Falun Gong correspond to a pre-determined extermination policy, and the total
prohibition of a peaceful practice protected by the Universal Declaration of
the Rights of Man corresponds to the execution of an oppressive genocidal policy.
The instruction issued by Jiang Zemin to establish the Office 610 comprised
three major directives that guided the criminal activities: to discredit the
followers, to ruin them financially, and to eliminate them physically.
2º. The setting in motion of the hatred propaganda. Every genocide is
based on hatred propaganda that enables it to be executed with the active involvement
of executors that live in the spiritual peace of the executioner, and additionally
requires the accusations or passiveness of the rest of the social group; hatred
propaganda can be based on racial motives against Armenians, Jews, or Tsutsis;
it can target ideological motives such as the Kulaks in the former Soviet Union
or the followers of Falun Gong in contemporary China.
3º. The perpetration of atrocities through the operation of a criminal
group. In modern history, crimes against Humanity have been carried out through
planned instrumentation by specific organizations: special groups in the Turkish
army, the soviet Czechs, the Black Order, the SS responsible for the concentration
camps during the Second World War, and the Sonderkomando on the Eastern front,
the Hutu militias in Rwanda, the Serb militias in the Bosnian war, the Khmer
Rouge in Cambodia, and the Office 610 created by the Chinese Communist Party
for exterminating Falun Gong.
If the legal conditions to define the operations of the Office 610 – with Jiang
Zemin as its senior responsible person – as crimes against Humanity exist, why
can´t this person be tried by an international court? Despite the multiple
evidence, Pol Pot, master of the Cambodian genocide, died without ever being
summoned to appear before an international court, which was established merely
to try his main accomplices. However, the slackness of international justice
and the high cost of this type of court are not the only factors preventing
the trial of Jiang Zemin. Although this person fulfills the legal conditions
recognized and typified in international law as a party responsible for Crimes
against Humanity, there are a series of procedural impediments and political
interests that guarantee his impunity, constituting a contradiction not easily
If international courts acted with full jurisdictional autonomy, the processing
of this type of criminal would be much easier. However, the International Penal
Court has established the limitation of not being able to act retroactively
and to act solely in connection with crimes committed after its establishment
in 2002, and its jurisdictional sphere is limited to the countries that signed
the treaty, which exclude the United States of America and the People´s
Republic of China. As regards trials involving crimes against Humanity, the
Court at The Hague acts on the basis of States promoted to the UNO Safety Council.
For many years, due to the concealed opposition from China, this hindered the
establishment of a court to try the mass crimes of Pol Pot and his group, and
introduced reasons of State and the political interests of the large world powers
in the enforcement of international law.
Crimes against Humanity do not prescribe, and in order for them to be brought
to trial, certain retroactive criteria must be applied aside from the protocols
for the establishment of the International Criminal Court of 2002. Although
it has been possible to accuse war criminals in The Hague for crimes committed
in Bosnia or Sierra Leona prior to 2002, or to try people responsible for the
genocide in Rwanda, there remains a legal vacuum in the system of international
law that prevents the establishment of a full correlation with the principles
of humanitarian law that would enable the trial of criminals like Jiang Zemin
even though their crimes were not committed in the context of a war.
There is at present a widespread criterion that the principle of sovereignty
of a State does not protect the impunity of those that commit crimes against
humanity, and consequently, various States establish an extended jurisdiction
for their courts in connection with the trial of this type of criminal. This
has enabled the prosecution of Jiang Zemin in different countries for his persecution
of Falun Gong, and has allowed the submission of testimonies of victims and
gathering of evidence in lawsuits. Some courts have already sentenced the accused
in absentia, as is the case with the United States and Canada. Other significant
procedures are underway in France, Belgium, Spain -where the Constitutional
Court decided to bring Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan to trial in November 2007- and
Latin America: in Bolivia and Chile. There is a proceeding in Argentina directed
specifically against Luo Gan. (11) These legal efforts are not in vain, since
according to a principle similar to that of class action, the legal claim made
by certain victims comprises the group of victims involved, which is progressively
establishing the international legal basis for bringing Jiang Zemin to trial,
thanks to these courts.
The fact that the crimes against Humanity in the persecution of Falun Gong,
which began in 1999 with the creation of the Office 610 by decision of Jiang
Zemin, have not ceased does not eliminate his specific liability but rather
increases it as the creator of this persecution as a policy of the Chinese state,
which persists as an indelible stain despite its concealment, propaganda or
indifference. This additionally establishes the basis for the retroactive nature
of the international trial and it urgency -in terms of the lives that can still
be saved-, in view of the restored order it can achieve by encouraging respect
toward the essential principles of freedom of thought, through the justice that
must prevail in the contemporary world without frontiers.
Since China is intensely involved in international trade and economic globalization
institutions, activities and dynamics, it must also accept the opening up of
its system and consider that it cannot alienate itself from global issues such
as human rights, ecology, communications and the civilized rule of international
In addition to the persecution of Falun Gong, the permanent harassment of religious
communities not controlled by their government, the violation of basic civilian
liberties, the lack of labor guarantees, the attack on dissidents and human
rights activists, the cultural genocide in Tibet and the crushing of its autonomy,
the restriction of the legal use of Internet, and its support of the government
of Sudan in the massacre of Dafur, form part of a black list of the Chinese
government (12) which cannot avoid repudiation by the informed and conscientious
people of the world, not even after the Bush administration erased its name
-for economic and political reasons- from the list of countries that have committed
human rights violations.
Therefore, through a decision to exterminate a national group, the dissemination
of hatred propaganda, the commanding of a group like the Office 610 – created
to persecute Falun Gong – to commit atrocities against human beings, as the
guidelines; and the retroactive nature of the trial based on its typification
as a continued crime, the lawsuits handled before the courts of UNO member states
as a legal basis, and the criterion that this trial will enable a true equality
between international law and the universal principles of humanitarian rights,
I believe that there are sufficient legal and moral bases to bring Jiang Zemin
and the leading members of his group to trial before the international court
some day for their crimes against Humanity. I believe, not as an utopian wish
but as a stubborn hope, that this could be sooner than later.
Las Huertas, Michoacán, Mexico
(1) Falun Gong or Falun Dafa was born from the inspiration of Li Hongzhi
in 1992 and is not in actual fact a religious activity but rather the teaching
of physical exercises aimed at meditation, balanced energy and health; its
spiritual principles stem from classic Buddhist tradition and it has clear
connections with Taoism and the ancient thought of the Essenes and Pythagoreans.
The practice of Falun Gong or Falun Dafa has spread to more than 70 countries
and is not persecuted in any of them. It is also characterized for its apolitical
nature, gratuitousness and ecumenical attitude.
(2) The actual number of victims of the persecution of Falun Gong is a real
black hole. The information restrictions of the Chinese regime prevent the
availability of reliable statistics. In 2004, in an attempt to minimize the
figures, the Chinese government in its propaganda publications acknowledged
that 1,800 followers of Falun Gong had died in prison "due to suicide".
Amnesty International denied that this figure revealed deaths by suicide,
among other reasons because the followers of Falun Gong believe that suicide
condemns the perpetrator with a bad karma in future reincarnation. Typical
cases must be noted, such as the case of 18 women followers who were detained
in an appeal in Beijing and were thrown naked into a criminal prison, and
eventually died as a result of mass violation; their death was also handled
by the official government propaganda as a case of "ritual suicide".
Other statistics establish an approximate 50 thousand murders, based on a
calculation of 10 thousand murders due to torture and execution, and a figure
of 40 thousand murdered during the process of organ trafficking, according
to the report Cosecha sangrienta by David Kilgour and David Matas. The 40,000
figure stems from the official data for transplants carried out in China during
the period without any knowledge of the origin of the donors. Thousands of
the followers that were prisoners were followers since the beginning of the
persecution, and moved to Beijing to protest peacefully. Those without a name
– that way they protected their families – and from poor provinces were particularly
vulnerable. However, they were not the only ones. Amnesty International denounced
the use of prisoners on death row and from Falun Gong to provide organs for
transplants. Additionally, Resolution 60/251 of the Human Rights Council of
the UNO, of March 2007, acknowledges the report from special reporter Manfred
Nowak which confirms this crime. The United Kingdom Transplant Society also
denounced this fact. It should be noted that following these accusations,
the Chinese government erased from Internet the sites that promoted "transplant
tourism" internationally. Hundreds of thousands of followers of Falun
Gong have been deported to labor camps, such as Xin "an, Maasanjia, Sujiatun,
Wanjia en Harbin and hundreds more, which form part of a contemporary Chinese
Gulag. The real number of victims cannot be established yet for many reasons,
including the fact that this is a continued crime.
(3) In 2006, David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia and
the Pacific, and David Matas, renowned Canadian human rights attorney, published
the report Cosecha sangrienta (Bloody harvest), a study that analyzes, gathers
testimonies, evidence and documentation on organ trade for transplants using
Falun Gong prisoners. In November 2007 they updated their report by adding
(4) Different reports have evidenced the use of slave labor in the production
of textiles, chemicals, toys, Christmas decorations, etc. One famous case
involved the multinational Nestlé, which had hired labor in China to
produce gift stuffed toys and which, according to an investigation conducted
by the dailies Morning Herald of Australia and Geneve le Temps of Switzerland,
were manufactured using slave labor of Falun Gong prisoners. As a result,
the company was forced to cancel the related contract. The Langolai System
-reeducation through labor- provides slave labor for the manufacture of products
that are exported via marketing companies established for this purpose in
Shanghai and Beijing.
(5) In 2003, British researcher Robin Munro, from the Law Department and the
Center for Chinese Studies of the University of London, denounced the use
of psychiatric hospitals to repress followers of Falun Gong. An interview
published two years later in the New York Times confirmed his data.
(6) The CIA developed the MK Ultra program to perfect brainwashing and mental
control techniques after American pilots held as prisoners during the Korean
War and treated in China revealed symptoms on their return to the Unites States
of what is known as brainwashing.
(7) The Chinese Government uses the term "devilish sect" or "evil
sect" to refer to Falun Gong or Falun Dafa. In a recent publication disseminated
by its embassies and on the Internet, it reproduced the testimony of 120 "re-educated"
followers who used these same terms.
(8) See interview by La Gran Epoca (26/9/2007) on investigations carried out
by the current Chinese government of the embezzlement by its Ministry of Economy
of funds destined for the persecution of Falun Gong.
(9) The 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes of Genocide
established the international legal rules which are reflected in the 1998
and 2002 Statutes of the International Criminal Court.
(10) La simbólica del mal, Paul Ricoeur, Taurus, Madrid, 1974. In February
this year, in response to a declaration signed by 200 Rabbis, academics and
politicians of Israel condemning the persecution of Falun Gong, Rabbi David
Druckman of Jerusalem said that the extraction of organs from prisoners of
Falun Gong is equivalent to absolute evil and is only paralleled by the crimes
of Stalinism and Nazism (Israel News, 16/2/2008).
(11) To date, 36 lawsuits have been filed in various countries against those
responsible for the persecution, including one proceeding filed in Hong Kong
more than a year ago before a court that has already issued a summons to appear
in court based on the principle "one country, two systems".
(12) The stand of Argentine prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo of the International
Criminal Court regarding the possible trial of presidents George Bush and
Tony Blair for war crimes committed during the invasion of Iraq (Universal,
22/3/2008), opens the criterion that the Court may file lawsuits based on
international law without considering jurisdictional restrictions. It would
be interesting to know Moreno Ocampo´s opinion regarding the possibility
of bringing Jiang Zemin and his officials to trial for their crimes against
Humanity, which are perfectly typified according to international law.