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Montreal Chinese groups threaten to sue RCMP over 'secret police station' allegations

Chinese groups threaten suit

Two Montreal-area Chinese community groups are threatening to sue the RCMP over what they say are defamatory allegations that they hosted secret “police stations” used by Beijing to intimidate members of the local Chinese community.

Service à la Famille chinoise du Grand Montréal and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud said in a lawyer’s letter sent to the federal police force Friday that they’ll file a lawsuit if the RCMP doesn’t pay them $2.5 million in alleged damages and apologize within 15 days for confirming they were subjects of the investigation.

“The reputation the organizations had built over the last 50 years was unduly tarnished overnight, directly impacting Quebec’s Chinese community and putting a target on our client’s backs,” Maryse Lapointe, a lawyer for the groups and their director, Xixi Li, writes in the letter.

She said the two non-profits have lost funding, forcing them to cut French language education and job search programs, as well as reduce the services they offer to victims of domestic violence.

“Let's not forget that the two community organizations in question are the only centres offering this kind of service to the Chinese community in the province of Quebec. Until the reputation of our clients is restored, the Chinese community in Quebec will continue to suffer from a flagrant lack of services specifically aimed at its needs,” Lapointe writes.

Last March, the RCMP confirmed that it was investigating allegations that Chinese government officials were operating clandestine "police stations" out of the two groups' facilities. At the time, RCMP officers said the stations were used to put pressure on members of the Chinese community in Canada, sometimes by threatening friends or relatives living in China.

The federal police force said it was it was also investigating similar allegations of clandestine police stations in Vancouver and Toronto.

The Spanish human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, which has identified more than 100 of the alleged police stations in more than 50 countries, has said the stations serve to "persuade'' people who Chinese authorities claim are fugitives to return to China to face charges.

The RCMP declined to comment on the lawsuit threat Friday afternoon.

However, Sgt. Kim Chamberland said the investigation into crimes related to the "so-called 'police stations'" remains ongoing, adding that the RCMP believes the investigation has disrupted illegal activity.

"It is important to note that some of the activity the RCMP is investigating is occurring at locations where other legitimate services to the Chinese Canadian community are being offered," she wrote in an email. "Transnational repression is complex and takes many forms, some intended and some otherwise."



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