There has been an attempt to bring criminal charges against a high ranking Chinese
official (Zhou Yongkang), who is due to meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd while visiting
Presenter: Karon Snowdon
Speakers: John Della, representative of Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, in New South
Wales, Australia; Donald Rothwell, Professor of International Law, Australian
National University, Stephen Smith, Australian Foreign Minister
Presenter: Zhou Yongkang one of the nine members of the standing committee of
the political bureau or the leadership group of China’s Communist party. He ranks
fourth or fifth in political seniority. The 66 year old Mr Zhou is the minister
for public security and was the head of security for the Beijing Olympics. He’s
also deputy secretary of the political and judicial affairs committee, which controls
China’s courts. Mr Zhou is accused by three Falun Gong members living in Australia
of overseeing a system allowing torture and they’ve lodged a criminal complaint
against him in the Supreme Court in Sydney. John Della represents the Falun Gong
Association of New South Wales says the three claim persecution and torture in
John Della: They’ve been incarcerated and tortured to give up their belief
in Falun Gong in labour camps and gaols in China. Zhou Yongkang has been one
of the Chinese officials in charge of overseeing and directing that torture.
John Della: The command system under the Chinese Communist Party and Zhou has
been at the top of that.
Presenter: According to Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the Australian
National University, the case faces two problems: diplomatic immunity and applying
Australian law to events in China. He says it brings to mind the Pinochet case.
Professor Donald Rothwell: The celebrated Pinochet case in 1999 is where Spain
sought to issue an arrest warrant against Augusto Pinochet the former Chilean
dictator and in that case sought his arrest and extradition from the United
Kingdom for similar charges based on torture. Legally the case was a success
it was just that ultimately the British attorney general failed to grant the
warrant and it certainly did raise the issue as to whether or not for crimes
of torture immunity could be enjoyed by former heads of state and that may well
be the sort of issue that would seem to be raised in this instance.
Presenter: Long shot though here in Australia yes?
Professor Donald Rothwell: Yes, that’s fair to say.
Presenter: Zhou Yongkang arrived in the resources state of Western Australian
on Tuesday [November 4, 2008] where he met with the state Premier and Foreign
Minister Stephen Smith ahead of meetings in Sydney. Foreign Minister Smith said
the visit was a very significant one, with talk covering: The United States,
the global financial crisis and Chinese foreign direct investment in Australia.
Stephen Smith: A very significant visit by Mr Zhou…it’s not just a trade
and investment visit though, the trade and investment is very important to us,
but earlier this year I conducted in Canberra the first strategic dialog with
Foreign Minister Yang. I’m going to China in the first quarter of next year
to if you like the return leg and I made the point to Mr Zhou over lunch that
Australia sees the US China relationship as being very important and very significant
and as China emerges in the course of this century as India emerges in the course
of this century as we find the shift of influence towards the Asia Pacific.
Presenter: Mr Zhou will meet with the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, although the
Chinese Embassy unusually has not publicised the visit, there was no comment
on the Supreme Court application from a media spokesperson travelling with the
delegation. John Della Acknowledges the limitations of the legal action, but
says the hope is to raise awareness.
John Della: To let the Government know that this issue is not something they
should be treating lightly.
Presenter: Would you be expecting Kevin Rudd to raise China’s human rights
record when he meets Mr Zhou?
John Della: I would expect him to do that, because that’s his commitment and
I think it’s just a matter of overcoming the fear of what may happen. Once that
fear is overcome, then we could actually move forward and have a decent relationship
with the people of China.
Posting date: 10/Nov/2008
Original article date: 7/Nov/2008
Category: Media Report