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Falun Gong Appeals for Bush's Intervention - 2002-10-23

Supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement hope President Bush will discuss the Chinese government crackdown on the movement's practitioners when he meets Friday with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Falun Gong also says it has filed a lawsuit against China's president for alleged human rights abuses.

Falun Gong's United States-based information center says the Chinese government has detained thousands and killed hundreds of the movement's practitioners since it was banned in China in 1999. Australian citizen Zhi Zhen Dai says her husband was jailed, tortured and killed last year in Beijing. Today she travels and speaks out in support of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. "Falun Dafa is rooted in our heart," she said. "No torture can shake it."

Earlier this month, lawyers for Falun Gong practitioners filed suit in the U.S. state of Illinois, charging Chinese President Jiang Zemin with being behind the alleged abuse of Falun Gong practitioners. Attorney Frederick Rhine discussed the suit Wednesday with reporters in Chicago. "This lawsuit seeks to hold Jiang Zemin, the president of China, accountable for the brutal torture and murder of Falun Gong practitioners carried out under his direction," said Frederick Rhine.

The lawsuit was not made public until Tuesday, when a copy of it was presented to President Jiang's security detail while he was in Chicago.

Falun Gong attorney Terri Marsh says the suit seeks unspecified financial damages and for the court in Illinois to prohibit Mr. Jiang from committing future abuses. "I would hope that in light of this lawsuit, President Bush will discuss in earnest, ways to end the persecution of Falun Gong in China today," she said.

President Jiang will meet with President Bush on Friday at his ranch in Texas. The Chinese government has banned Falun Gong, calling it an evil cult. It blames the movement for hundreds of deaths of people who have committed suicide or refused medical attention.

Falun Gong's information center blames Chinese officials for killing at least 500 practitioners in detention. The lawsuit was filed under a U.S. law that allows American courts to hear cases against foreigners accused of human rights violations abroad.