Friday, February 12, 2016

Magistrate Refuses To Dismiss Suit Against Anti-Falun Gong Organization

In Jingrong v. Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16560 (ED NY, Jan. 28, 2016), a group of Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing Queens, New York sued an allegedly virulent anti-Falun Gong organization under federal civil rights laws.The court summarizes facts from plaintiffs' complaint:
Defendant CACWA is a not-for-profit corporation ... [whose] mission is to expose Falun Gong as an evil and dangerous threat to society.... CACWA's printed materials and websites indicate that CACWA was created to wage a "douzheng" campaign against Falun Gong practitioners in New York...  A key objective of a douzheng campaign is the forced conversion of targeted groups by compelling members to renounce their political or religious beliefs, supported by a propaganda campaign which, similar to that which was carried out in Nazi Germany  during World War II, characterizes its victims as appropriate targets of violence and abuse.... Originally initiated in China, the anti-Falun Gong campaign was extended into the United States in 2001 by then Communist Party ("Party") Chief Jiang Zemin.
In this opinion, a New York federal magistrate judge recommends refusing to dismiss plaintiffs' 42 USC Sec. 1985(3) claim, saying in part:
Plaintiffs' claims that they were repeatedly attacked ... make it plausible that Defendants "act[ed] at least in part for the very purpose of," ... infringing on Plaintiffs' right to intrastate travel. In terms of class-based animus, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs "misunderstand Defendants' mission" and describe their disagreement with Falun Gong as a mere difference in ideology.... This position must be rejected at least on this motion to dismiss. Frequent threats to "kill" and "dig out [the] hearts, livers and lungs" of Falun Gong practitioners... and the call for a douzheng campaign against Falun Gong, if true, describe religious-based animus sufficient to pursue a claim under § 1985(3).
The court also recommended refusing to dismiss plaintiffs' claims under 18 USC 248(a)(2) which provides a civil remedy against whomever, "by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship." Among other things, the court refused to accept for purposes of a motion to dismiss defendants' argument that Falun Gong is not a "religion."