China Fahui | Clarifying the Facts through Civil Lawsuits
(Minghui.org) Greetings, Master! Greetings, fellow practitioners!
During my 20 years of cultivation in Falun Gong, I have benefited tremendously from the articles published on the Minghui website. During this China Fahui, I hope to share my experiences of how I counteracted the persecution by filing civil lawsuits to get my job back after I was illegally terminated from my position.
610 Office Responsible for My Being Fired
I began to practice Falun Gong in May 1998 at the recommendation of a colleague. My heart was broken when the communist regime launched the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999. I believe that we didn't do anything wrong in practicing Falun Gong and following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. I went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice Falun Gong, and was arrested and detained for 15 days.
I wrote open letters to the local government to appeal for justice for Falun Gong after I was released. The 610 Office pressured my workplace into firing me. I decided to move to another city and find a new job, but was prohibited by the police to leave the city.
When I finally managed to find another job matching my qualifications, I was arrested by a 610 Office agent and taken to a brainwashing center. They confiscated my cell phone and didn't allow me to call my manager. I thus lost my job again.
The forced unemployment made my life very difficult, especially since I was the breadwinner for my elderly parents and little ones. I contacted my original workplace and demanded my job back, but did not receive a reply.
I thought since my verbal requests did not bring any result, I should submit a formal written request. If my job was not reinstated, I could resort to lawsuits and use this opportunity to let more people know about the persecution.
I decided not to keep silent about the persecution. I was of the opinion that if I kept silent and didn't take any concrete action, I would be acknowledging the persecution. Besides, I believe that those who participated in the persecution must also assume responsibility.
Filing lawsuits would also provide me with the opportunity to talk to government officials and staff members from the courts and Procuratorate about Falun Gong. These are people who are deeply influenced by the communist regime's propaganda against Falun Gong, but hard to reach under normal circumstances.
It was very clear that we needed to open the minds of these people. Walking this path wouldn't be easy, but I always had considered it in the back of my mind. I reminded myself not to be attached to the results, but to really focus my heart on the process and cultivate my compassion for all the people I would meet.
I shared my thoughts with fellow practitioners. They supported me and sent righteous thoughts for me.
After the persecution was launched in July 1999, I began collecting materials for filing lawsuits in the future. I didn't know anything about legal procedure, as no one I knew was an expert in this regard. Besides, other practitioners were already involved in other projects, so it was up to me to find a way.
Studying Relevant Laws
I found many introductory materials about civil lawsuits and began to teach myself. I used the internet to learn what I needed, and consulted lawyers from several law firms when I could not find an answer. Also, while preparing the materials, Master hinted at how I could improve my knowledge.
I believe that the materials needed to show the compassion and kindness of Falun Gong practitioners, as they would clarify the facts to whoever read them. I talked about the improvement of my health and character after I started the practice. I wrote that my family got along better, and I had better relationships with my coworkers. Then, I talked about how practicing Falun Gong is our constitutionally-protected right, and that we didn't do anything wrong or cause harm to society by practicing our belief. I carefully revised every document and tried to maximize its truth-clarification effect.
First Attempt to Get My Job Back
After I prepared some initial materials, I went back to my former workplace and passed out copies to the leadership team. Next, I handed out my appeal documents to everyone, including other managers, my former colleagues, the local petition office and the city government. I asked for their help to move my appeal forward. Then, I followed up after I mailed out the materials.
After the security at my prior workplace stopped me from entering the building, I stayed at the entrance and protested, so more people heard about my case. Shortly after, they appointed a manager to talk to me and accepted the materials from me.
A few months later, however, my workplace told me that they decided not to rehire me and recommended that I take the legal route. I believed that this was a new opportunity for more people to hear the facts.
Using Labor Arbitration
Understanding that most of the government officials and court staff had been deeply influenced by the negative media propaganda about Falun Gong, I decided not to rush. I would apply for labor arbitration before I filed the lawsuit.
However, as I hadn't thoroughly clarified the facts to the officers at the arbitration office, my case was rejected shortly after I contacted them. I was told that I could appeal to the courts after 15 days if I didn't agree with their decision.
I had two dreams that night. In the first dream, I was told that a lot of work remained to be done, and that there would be several people joining and helping me. In the second dream, I got the hint that there would be two rounds of lawsuits, but I wasn't exactly sure what that meant.
Filing a Lawsuit
The lawsuit which I submitted to the court was well-prepared. I explained my situation more clearly. I reminded myself to remain rational and as long as they accepted my case, I was making progress.
Shortly after I filed the lawsuit, my former workplace offered to settle the case in private and asked me to withdraw my lawsuit. I consulted with a court official and was advised not to withdraw the case until I reached an agreement with them. After I told my former workplace that I would proceed with the lawsuit, they no longer mentioned the settlement.
After my case was accepted by the court, I found a local lawyer to represent me. She said that as long as the court accepted the case, she was willing to represent me. She next went to the local 610 Office, Justice Department and my prior workplace to demand legal documents about the persecution and their decision to fire me, but was told that it was confidential.
In addition to the local lawyer, I also hired a lawyer from Beijing to represent me.
While waiting for the trial, I delivered more copies of my lawsuit to my friends and former colleagues to let them know about the persecution and asked for their advice on what could be improved.
Many people asked me, with the persecution still going on, whether I was afraid of affecting my daughter's admission to college or her chances of studying abroad. I told them that I only want to be a good person and follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance, and it was the government and my workplace that stopped me from making a living. I was just fighting for my rights in a peaceful manner.
In fact, it turned out that my daughter received a full scholarship and was admitted to her dream college. I didn't have to worry about her tuition at all. Master had arranged it. My daughter supports me in practicing Falun Gong and in filing the lawsuit to ask for my job back, so she received blessings for her righteous support. I knew that Master was also encouraging me and helping me.
The old forces attempted to interfere with me and caused my face to blister before the trial, but I wasn't bothered by it and did everything as usual. The blisters soon disappeared.
Shortly before the trial, the old forces launched another attack, and I was too weak to even stand. I contacted fellow practitioners. After they sent forth righteous thoughts for me, the tribulation was dissolved and I recovered.
The trial made a huge impact on the local government, as it was the first time that a Falun Gong practitioner was a plaintiff, with a lawyer from Beijing to represent me.
Many practitioners sent righteous thoughts, and the Beijing lawyer delivered a powerful defense. The presiding judge showed some support after the trial – the effect was much better than what I had expected.
But because of pressure by higher-level government and the 610 Office, the judge wasn't allowed to rule in my favor. I lost the case and was told to appeal to the intermediate court in 15 days.
This was another opportunity to clarify the facts.
A friend of mine told me that one of his relatives worked for the provincial police department. Even they had heard about my case. They told the intermediate court that they could not rule in my favor.
When working on my first lawsuit, I experienced kindness from those that I came in contact with. I believed that they had made the right choice.
While I was preparing my appeal materials, court employees helped me obtain a copy of the fabricated evidence from my workplace, and the court didn't use any harsh language to attack Falun Gong in the final verdict.
I truly felt that Master had made all the arrangement and it was just a matter for me to walk the path. After the court trial, I had stronger righteous thoughts and forgot about the persecution. I understood that I was really opening their minds about the persecution. When I had the right understanding of the things I was doing, the path became easier for me.
Appeal to the Intermediate Court
With help from Master, I got my appeal documents ready within a very short time and submitted it to the intermediate court.
After the case was accepted, I went to the court to ask for updates. I talked to the president of the intermediate court and members of the discipline committee. In the process, I met many petitioners who had persisted over the past decade to seek justice for their own suffering. Some of them were in their 80s. Their persistence inspired me. I also told them about Falun Gong and the persecution.
While waiting for the trial at the intermediate court, my previous workplace offered to settle the case with me and asked me to withdraw my appeal. This time, they gave me a specific offer. I didn't object to the settlement, but hoped to see everything done before I withdrew my appeal. I again did not hear back.
Actually I wasn't expecting to close the case and receive the settlement so soon, as I still wanted to use these opportunities to clarify the facts to more officials.
The 610 Office agents demanded that I withdraw my case. They stationed several officers outside my apartment building. I called the lawyer in Beijing to ask for his advice. He suspected that they were attempting to arrest me, and he asked me to leave home and go into hiding.
I thought that if I ran away, I wouldn't be able to attend the trial and continue my efforts of clarifying the facts through the lawsuit. Wandering about would also cause a lot of trouble for my cultivation. I decided to stay and face the police.
The 610 Office agents stayed for one week outside my apartment building. I didn't go out, but instead stayed at home, studied the Fa and sent forth righteous thoughts. I asked Master to strengthen me and help me eliminate the evil behind the agents. They finally left after one week.
The open trial at the intermediate court turned out to be a show trial that just went through the motions. Even the presiding judge was changed a few times. They rejected my case, but did not provide the verdict until several months later, and only after my repeated requests.
Demanding Re-trial at the High Court
After my appeal was rejected by the intermediate court, I filed for a re-trial at the high court. A lawyer, who was a practitioner, advised me to deliver my materials in person, and also to send them via express mail. Local practitioners also encouraged me not to give up.
After I hand-delivered and mailed the re-trial request, I kept calling the high court to ask for updates. Some of their staff were very kindhearted and gave me good advice of what I could do to move the case forward.
After the case was registered, I contacted the lawyer and prepared my defense arguments.
This time, I didn't read from the scripts as I did during the prior two times. I summarized my points and the corresponding evidence supporting it. Surprisingly, the judge said to me that I did a great job explaining the case to him.
They asked me a few questions, such as whether I was still at work when I was fired, as both the first and second instance rulings were based on the false evidence provided by my former workplace. They had claimed that I skipped work without asking for leave when I went to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong. I explained to them that I didn't miss a day of work and didn't violate any of the workplace policies.
Not long after the hearing, the high court ordered a re-trial and returned the case to the intermediate court.
Re-trial at the Intermediate Court
Despite the ruling from the high court, it took a lot of effort to have the intermediate court accept my case.
When I talked to the judge in charge of my case, she was very rude and said she wouldn't let me win the case no matter what. When I asked about the case status, she always said she was busy with something else and didn't have time to see me.
I felt sorry for her for having a negative attitude towards Falun Gong.
During the re-trial, I summarized my defense and talked about the key points. The judge interrupted me several times and cut me short before I had the chance to expand into the evidence. My lawyer finished the defense for me. The judge asked whether my workplace and I were willing to reach a settlement at the trial. I agreed this time, but my workplace refused.
Before the intermediate court pronounced their decision, my workplace changed their mind back and forth. In the end, we didn't reach an agreement and my appeal was rejected again.
Protest to the Procuratorate
I didn't give up. I filed a protest with the local Procuratorate. They first rejected it but accepted it after I kept contacting them.
I had a face-to-face meeting with the prosecutor. I told him how I had lost my well-paying job because of the persecution and could hardly make ends meet. He felt sorry for me, but also told me that it would be even harder for me to win the case by protesting. He suggested that I talk to my employer directly.
Reaching an Agreement
In the past few years of filing the lawsuit, I had always kept my employer updated and they knew my case very well. This time, instead of requesting to go back to work, I asked for retirement benefits, as I had already reached the retirement age.
To my surprise, they agreed this time. One officer said to me: “We should follow Falun Gong's principles and be good people.”
I felt really glad that my years of efforts to clarify the facts to them finally paid off. Their understanding the facts was exactly what I wanted through my lawsuit.
Although the benefits I received weren't as good as they should be, I was not concerned about this.
On the other hand, most people from the previous leadership had already retired, and the new leadership never participated in the persecution directly. They were also victims of the persecution. I understand that given the pressure from the 610 Office, settling with me wasn't an easy decision, and it required a lot of courage.
Remembering the past few years of filing the lawsuit and clarifying the facts to government officials at various levels, I found that most of them still had a good heart. The higher position the official was in, the easier it was for him to understand the facts. It's just that they didn't have the opportunity to hear the facts and have been fed the propaganda by the communist regime. Most of them will open their heart as long as we are willing to clarify the facts to them.
(From the 15th China Fahui on Minghui)