Argentine Judge Issues Arrest Warrants for Chinese Officials

Argentine Judge Issues Arrest Warrants for Jiang Zemin and Luo Gan

Argentine Judge Issues Arrest Warrants for Chinese Officials:

In a historic genocide case, an Argentine judge has issued arrest warrants for top Chinese officials for their role in the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

Judge Octavio Aráoz de Lamadrid’s landmark Dec. 17 decision sets an historical legal precedent for Argentina through its reliance on principles of extraterritoriality to prosecute foreign defendants for crimes against humanity.

The judge issued a national and international arrest warrant against Jiang Zemin, former leader of the Chinese Communist Party, and Luo Gan, former head of the 610 Office, an extrajudicial agency set up to lead and coordinate the campaign against Falun Gong. The warrant is to be carried out by the Interpol Department of the Federal Police of Argentina.

The case follows a similar decision in Spain last month in which five top communist leaders were indicted for their roles in the persecution of Falun Gong by the Spanish National Court.

In that case, Spanish judge Ismael Moreno accepted charges of genocide and torture after a two-year investigation. Jiang, who is widely acknowledged as the initiator and primary driver behind the campaign launched in 1999 to “eradicate” Falun Gong, is also among the accused in that case.

According to Chinese regime statistics at the time, an estimated 70 to 100 million people were practicing the discipline that combines slow-moving exercises and spiritual teachings.

Luo is also facing charges of genocide and torture in the Spanish case for his part in leading the 610 office.

The other three accused are Bo Xilai, current Party Secretary for Chongqing and former Minister of Commerce; Jia Qinglin, the fourth-highest member of the party hierarchy; and Wu Guanzheng, head of an internal party disciplinary committee.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning article from 2000 by the Wall Street Journal’s Ian Johnson documents how financial punishments and political pressure imposed by Wu on his subordinates led Weifang city authorities to torture—and sometimes kill—local residents who practiced Falun Gong.

In the Spanish case, the accused could also face an international arrest warrant. They have less than three weeks left to respond to a letter of request from Judge Moreno with some 20 questions relating to their involvement with the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

In Argentina, Judge Lamadrid described the 610 Office as a “Chinese Gestapo with the objective of exterminating thousands of innocent people (including women, the elderly, and children) under the control, direction, supervision, and coordination of Luo Gan, the accused…”

“Jiang and Luo’s actions long ago placed them in the same category as the Augusto Pinochets, Slobodan Milosevics, and Charles Taylors of the world,” Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Erping Zhang said in a press release. “International justice mechanisms are now catching up with these two as well.”

“The decision to go forward with just and impartial proceedings in this case will be a credit to Argentina as a leader in international human rights law, said Carlos Iglesias, the lawyer who filed the similar case in the Spanish National Court.

Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a spiritual discipline focused on self-improvement through following the principles of “Truthfulness–Compassion–Forbearance.” The practice also includes five sets of Tai-Chi like qigong exercises.

There are over 3,000 confirmed torture deaths according to Falun Gong sources, and the persecution against the group is commonly cited as among the most severe human rights abuses in China. The persecution began in 1999, following seven years of rapid growth in popularity of the practice in China.

If Jiang or Luo travel to a country that has an extradition treaty with Argentina, they may be detained, transferred to Argentina, and brought before the court, Lamadrid said. According to one of the lawyers at the Human Rights Law Foundation, Terri Marsh, if the defendants stand trial, a guilty verdict is assured and significant jail time likely.

The judge’s decision was based on evidence that included the oral testimonies of 17 victims of torture and other forms of persecution. The witnesses provided a “harsh and very concrete vision of the sinister attitude toward human rights held by the Chinese Communist Party,” according to Alejandro Cowes, one of the attorneys who initially filed the case on behalf of Falun Gong victims.

The judge also took into account the testimony of doctors, United Nations reports, and research by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“The genocidal strategy … comprised a broad range of actions arranged in total contempt for life and human dignity,” Lamadrid said in his decision, which took four years from when the gathering of evidence began.

“The designated purpose—the eradication of Falun Gong—was used to justify any means used. Therefore, torment, torture, disappearances, deaths, brainwashing, psychological torture were everyday occurrences in the persecution of its practitioners,” he said.

“I understand that in the present case the principle of universal jurisdiction must be applied in view of the [severity of the] crimes, the number of victims affected, and the ideological nature of the actions taken against members of the Falun Gong religious group,” the judge said in his ruling.

The decision was unique in bringing together the application of universal jurisdiction, the recentness of the crimes, and the first arrest warrant for top-ranking Chinese officials, said Mr. Cowes.

“For China, or better said for the people of China, it means that this could be the beginning of the end of a dictatorship that has been in power for the last 60 years, and exercised bloody repression with over 85 million victims,” he said.

“For the international community, this is a wake-up call.”