Group Closes Ranks Vs Fake Asylum Seekers

The Saipan Falun Dafa Association is willing to cooperate with the Attorney General's Office in identifying illegal aliens who may take advantage of Falun Dafa membership to secure refugee protection.

Falun Dafa spokesman Vincent Perez said this as he denied reports that his group saw an increase in membership following moves to implement refugee protection regulations in the CNMI.

The persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China is seen as possibly sufficient grounds to obtain refugee protection in the Commonwealth.

"Our membership has been stable in the past months. We have some new members, but we make sure that everyone in our group are staying on the island legally," Perez told the Saipan Tribune.

The group has roughly between 30 and 50 members, he said.

Perez admitted that the Falun Dafa has one practitioner on Saipan who is seeking refugee protection, but that member had joined the group months ago.

"I thought about the possibility [that our group may be involved in the process in some way] when the refugee protection policy was first introduced," he said. "But as practitioners, we try to be people of moral character. To do something illegal would be contrary to our beliefs. It would be dishonest for us to allow people to join us to avoid deportation."

Perez also expressed readiness to work with the Division of Immigration in case someone facing deportation claims to be a member of the Falun Dafa.

He said that while the organization does not keep a membership logbook, its members know one another. "So if people claim that they're members even if they're not, it's going to be quite obvious."

He added that practitioners should not be difficult to track down, as they gather to meditate in the south parking area of the Department of Labor every night and at Micro Beach and Banzai Cliff every Sunday morning.

"If Immigration has any questions, they can just come and we'll confirm to them who our members are and who are not," Perez said.

A revised version of the regulations on refugee protection was published in the June issue of the Commonwealth Register and will become effective if the AGO receives no major public comments by the end of this month.

The regulations on asylum seekers aim to implement Public Law 13-61, which requires the AGO to promulgate rules and regulations enforcing the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The United States is a signatory to both international conventions and treaties. Pursuant to Section 102 of the Covenant, the CNMI is required to conform to such forms of treaties.

On Friday evening, Falun Dafa members commemorated the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Chinese government's crackdown against the group's practitioners.

"We want to bring awareness to the torture and killing of Falun Dafa members in China. We especially want to bring [former Chinese leader] Jiang Zemin to justice for his human rights violations," Perez said. "We are not doing anybody any harm. We just exercise, meditate and try to be good, moral people in society. But our members are being prosecuted because our group has become larger than the Communist Party. They are intimidated by us because we are strong in our beliefs."