April 23 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Falun Gong members have sued Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai in U.S. federal court for acts of genocide and torture which they said he carried out against them while a provincial governor, according to court documents made available on Friday.
Bo, in Washington this week as part of a delegation headed by Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, was served with the legal papers on Thursday as he entered a hotel for a dinner in Wu’s honor, said attorney Morton Sklar of the World Organization Against Torture USA, who represents the plaintiffs.
A State Department spokesman said he was aware a civil suit had been filed but it was unclear if the papers, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., had been properly served.
The Chinese Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
Before becoming commerce minister in February, Bo for three years was governor of Liao Ning province, home to the Masanjia forced labor camp and three mental hospitals. The provincial government is considered one of the worst abusers of Falun Gong practitioners, Sklar told Reuters.
Court papers said Bo “played a major role in seeking to suppress the Falun Gong spiritual movement.”
Bo “planned and carried out a sustained and deliberate set of policies and actions that resulted in the arbitrary and unlawful arrest, detention, persecution and in some cases execution of the plaintiffs,” the papers said.
Under international law, genocide is defined as intentional acts “to destroy in whole or part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
The suit said Bo’s activities met this definition because “they consisted of an intentionally inflicted policy and practice, carried out under color of law, of inflicting serious bodily harm, and in a number of cases death while in detention, against members of a spiritual group.”
Sklar said the suit was the fourth brought in the United States against Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that the communist government in Beijing considers a threat.
The State Department, in its latest human rights report, said China’s government in 2003 continued its crackdown on Falun Gong and thousands of its practitioners remained imprisoned in jails, labor camps and psychiatric facilities.