By Madina Toure

Falun Gong practitioners in Flushing have filed a lawsuit against a Queens organization for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to injure them and deprive them of their rights based on their religion.

Practitioners of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice originating in China, were allegedly subjected to assault, battery, death threats, mob violence and other abuses in Flushing committed directly or influenced by the Chinese Anti-Cult World Alliance, a Flushing-based organization which operates a booth at 41-40 Main St., according to the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court March 3.

The lawsuit was filed by 13 Falun Gong practitioners, eight of whom live in Flushing. Of the 13 practitioners, 11 were believers and two were non-believers allegedly targeted based on the alliance’s mistaken identification of them as Falun Gong believers, the lawsuit said.

No phone number was listed for the alliance.

The practitioners practice the Falun Gong religion at the Falun Gong Spiritual Center at 40-46 Main St. in Flushing. They also participate in religious activities at five designated Falun Gong sites, also in Flushing.

Since 2008, the practitioners claim, the alliance has conducted a campaign of violence and intimidation that includes a series of direct violent attacks or threats by Michael Chu and Li Huahong, along with Wan Hongjuan, Zhu Zirou and other associates, according to the lawsuit.

The campaign also included incitement and instigation of attacks by Chu and Li through their own statements and the materials the alliance’s supporters distribute daily under their direction, the lawsuit said.

The group is seeking injunctive relief based on testimony and evidence provided at the trial as well as compensatory, punitive and statutory damages. They also want a jury trial.

The lawsuit notes three key incidents of violence and intimidation directed against the Falun Gong community in Flushing in 2008, three in 2009 and four in 2011, compared to more than 10 incidents in 2014 and three in 2015.

The attorney representing the practitioners, Terri Marsh, executive director and senior litigation partner of the Human Rights Law Foundation, said the case is about the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents.

“It is more particularly about the rights of a religious minority to practice their religion freely and peacefully without concerns about ongoing acts of violence, death threats and other forms of intimidation,” Marsh said in a statement.

“It is, of course, also about the constitutional rights of a specific religious minority, Falun Gong, i.e., to practice religious beliefs freely and peacefully without violent forms of interference,” Marsh continued.

The alliance has 21 days after receipt of service to file an answer or a motion to dismiss.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.



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