By Ivan Pentchoukov
■ In an unprecedented decision, a Chinese court ordered that significant compensation be paid to the family of a woman who was persecuted to death as a prisoner of conscience.
Xu Chensheng was killed after a 12-hour interrogation at a local police station in Chenzhou City, Hunan Province, on May 16, 2012. She was arrested for distributing materials about Falun Gong, a meditation discipline she practiced.
|Xu Chensheng (Minghui.org)|
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice with exercises, meditation, and teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The Chinese communist regime has spent 18 years persecuting Falun Gong, which had as many as 100 million adherents in 1997.
Xu’s case is the first time since 1999 that a Chinese court of law handed a compensation order to a victim’s family. They received 319,000 yuan, or $47,500, at the end of 2016.
Xu’s son Yang Xujun had petitioned the courts and police since her murder in 2012. Beihu District Police Station refused to pay Yang, so he appealed to a district court. On Dec. 19, 2016, the court issued the decision to compensate the family.
“Since the persecution of Falun Gong began, the Chinese communist regime has been undermining the legal system. Many Falun Gong practitioners had been persecuted to death or became disabled due to the persecution. But they had nowhere to appeal,” said Heng He, a China analyst with NTD Television.
Former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Jiang Zemin launched the nationwide persecution of Falun Gong in China in 1999. He ordered that authorities can “count it as suicide if a practitioner is beaten to death.”
Heng believes that the state’s compensation in Xu’s case is a manifestation that the persecution of Falun Gong is becoming difficult to maintain in China.
“The persecution of Falun Gong is led by the 610 Office, executed by the police, the procuratorate, and the court system. This means the long-term persecution mechanism and the persecution policy are starting to fail,” Heng said.
“The judges and even the local Communist Party officials who are involved in this case also don’t want to be held responsible for the persecution. It is undoubtedly a warning to the CCP officials who are still persecuting Falun Gong practitioners,” Heng said.
At least 4,114 Falun Gong practitioners have been persecuted to death, according to cases documented by the Minghui website and operated by practitioners. Due to the regime’s tight grip on information, the true scale of the killings likely far surpasses the documented numbers.
Lawyers recommend that more victims and families pursue legal justice. The families should demand compensation from all levels of government said lawyer Teresa Chu.
“In terms of the levels of compensation, firstly, Jiang Zemin used the national machine to launch the persecution. The victims should sue Jiang Zemin and demand state compensation,” said Chu.
“Secondly, the perpetrators who directly exert violence, should be held accountable for criminal and civil liability. Thirdly, as in this case, due to the illegal acts of the police department, victims should demand to receive state compensation.”
Xu’s family doubted the official autopsy findings and requested an independent autopsy after they learned of her death, but police, prosecutors, and court officials interfered.
|Local residents read a notice that demands an independent
autopsy for Xu Chensheng and that the pepetrators be brought
to justice. (Minghui.org)
Xu’s family started a grass-roots campaign in town to expose the meddling officials. The family teamed up with fellow Falun Gong practitioners to blanket the area with brochures and posters exposing the circumstances behind Xu’s murder.
Local residents who read the brochures publicly criticized the officials involved in the case. Police were sent to maintain security in the area, but ended up leaving after incessant questioning from the locals.
Lawyers believe that the grass-roots support from the community, in addition to the persistence of the victim’s family, ultimately led to the state compensation. The case is now a precedent for future lawsuits.
“It’s not only on the issue of persecution of Falun Gong, that people should come to support practitioners to pursue justice. People from all parts of China that have been persecuted by the CCP should not feel desperate or give up. With help from each other, they should also continue to fight for their rights, whether it’s administrative compensation or legal civil compensation, or sue the perpetrators,” Chu said.
If this trend can be spread to all over China, the dictatorship mechanism cannot be maintained,” she said.
Tina Lin from NTD New York contributed to this article.