Some Thoughts on The Issue of Practitioners Seeking Political Asylum Outside of China
(Clearwisdom.net) Recently I read an article on the Chinese website Minghui.net about overseas practitioners' residence status. Since quite a number of Chinese practitioners are applying for political asylum, I have some thoughts on this issue that I would like to share.
Practitioners seeking asylum and those who are not have different ideas and attitudes about this issue. During this Fa-rectification period, I think we should discard all notions that we have developed in our personal cultivation and think about this asylum issue from the perspective of Fa-rectification and saving sentient beings.
The author of the Minghui article writes: "'Political Asylum' is a protection given according to international human rights covenants. It is not constrained by national borders. It holds the respect for the value of human beings as a priority and manifests a spirit of international humanitarianism. Although it has the word 'political' in it, it is obvious that it is by no means equivalent to 'politics' by its usual meaning, and it is not a 'preferential' treatment at all. It is just a guarantee of the most modest right... that to existence itself. In other words, it is a right that all human beings should have. A 'Special residency permit' is also like this. Dafa practitioners are perfectly eligible for such rights, and we should enjoy the rights in an open and dignified manner. This is not politics, but rights that we deserve. When we ask for support from politicians in the international arena and clarify the facts to them, we are not playing 'politics' or 'liaising with foreign powers.' Claiming our rights is not 'political' either."
Let's also look at the definition of "refugee" according to International Refugee Law. A refugee is "any person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and who is outside the country of his/her nationality."
The persecution of Falun Gong by Jiang's evil political gang is unprecedented. This fact alone should ensure that all overseas practitioners holding Chinese passports have a legitimate right to claim asylum in a dignified manner in any country that signed the international human rights covenants, so that they can avoid having to return to China to suffer persecution.
If a foreign government grants refugee status to a Dafa practitioner, it means that this country recognizes the persecution in China as a very severe breach of human rights covenants. This is a blow to Jiang's regime, which boasts that, "the Chinese people are enjoying the best human rights situation in history." In other words, every successful asylum claim is a blow to the evil.
For those of us overseas, while rescuing practitioners already in prison in China is something every one of us in the community of cultivators is willing to do, our helping fellow practitioners who are facing imminent danger seems to be something controversial. Some practitioners think that the motives of some of those who are applying for asylum are not entirely pure, and that they are doing so out of selfishness, so that they can stay overseas permanently, or that they are trying to use Dafa to gain a wonderful life overseas for themselves, because "they are not yet in a situation where they have absolutely no way out." There is a tendency to think that those practitioners whose asylum claims have been refused or whose cases have been delayed for a long time must have suffered all these tribulations because their motives were not pure, that all their sufferings have been caused by their own attachments, and that their problems can be solved only when they themselves improve on the Fa, etc.
It is true that many non-practitioners, in order to achieve their own personal goals, are seeking asylum while claiming to be Falun Gong practitioners. Everyone will have to be responsible for what he or she does. My purpose here is not to talk about what these non-practitioners are doing.
We know our fellow practitioners the best. They, like everybody else, are clarifying the facts and saving sentient beings. Most of those practitioners who have applied for asylum did so because they had no other choice. Some faced the imminent expiration of their student visas. Some had other reasons. These practitioners are suffering great hardships. In the country where I live, before their refugee status is granted, they are not allowed to work and have to rely on meager benefits from the government. With certain new regulations, some practitioners cannot apply for even this small amount of support. Also, before they get their refugee status, they are not allowed to go abroad, so they are not able to go to other countries to introduce Falun Gong. Some of these practitioners have been shouldering great financial burdens for our Dafa work, but now their own financial situation is very tight.
This serious interference to our Dafa work has been arranged by the old forces. We should realize that this is also persecution. We cannot refuse to help our fellow practitioners just because they have this or that attachment. We should support them. Just as Master said, "The next person's things are your things, and your things are his things." ("Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. Fa Conference") We are one body. The number of overseas practitioners is already quite small. Master once said, "overseas students should try not to go to Mainland China, because you are needed in exposing the evi.l" ("Teaching the Fa at the Great Lakes Fa Conference in North America") The above-mentioned practitioners are playing an extremely important role in overseas Dafa work.
Are we really waiting for them to be deported to China? Are we going to come to our senses only after they get arrested in China, and we have to start a project to rescue them? Also, why do practitioners have to become impoverished and at a dead end before other practitioners will recognize their justifiable claims for seeking asylum? On the human level, even the United Nations is not that inflexible. Isn't the above line of thinking complying with the principles of the old forces? As fellow practitioners, we should do our best to help them solve their status problems. They deserve to have a relatively good environment to do Dafa work. And what they ask for is only a legal status in this country.
In society, Dafa disciples deserve to have beautiful and blissful lives, either in terms of moral qualities or living conditions. If they are not only kind, peaceful, and tolerant, but also enjoy health, financial well-being, and harmonious family lives, they would be in a better situation to validate the Fa. However, the old forces don't understand Fa-rectification cultivation or what is happening in the cosmos. All they know are principles of personal cultivation. Using "testing Dafa" as an excuse, they want to "destroy their [Falun Gong practitioners'] reputation, remove their sources of economic support, and annihilate their bodies," in order to damage the image of Dafa and prevent sentient beings from being saved. Their persecution is intended to make it hard for us to devote our whole hearts and minds to the work of rectifying the Fa and saving sentient beings. They are wasting our precious time, which could otherwise be well utilized to save sentient beings, and they are persecuting the beings that could otherwise have had opportunities of salvation.
Looking at this issue from another perspective, if practitioners applying for asylum do have the intention to stay overseas permanently, and if they want to stay because of their personal attachments, they need to eliminate those attachments. We cannot go to any extremes. However, if a Dafa disciple wants to stay somewhere, the understanding side of the resident sentient beings are very happy, because they have been longing for Dafa disciples to bring the Fa to them so they can be saved. For instance, why do we care so much about establishing Falun Dafa Associations in different countries? Setting up a legally recognized organization can provide local practitioners with a legally protected cultivation environment, and it it shows that Dafa has established a foothold in that country, which has profound implications for the future of that country. Following that same line of logic, if this country accepts the asylum applications of Dafa practitioners, aren't they establishing a good foundation for their own future? It is only that some of our practitioners haven't really realized the heavy responsibilities on their shoulders. But we can always improve together through our group study and experience sharing.
I think practitioners should not accuse each other of trying to take advantage of Dafa. Aren't these accusations just human thinking? The "attachments" of fellow practitioners are by no means their fundamental qualities. In fact, those attachments should simply not be recognized and should be eliminated through cultivation and righteous thoughts. We should not regard the attachments as part of our fellow practitioners themselves. Aren't these "attachments," whether yours or mine, being used as excuses by the evil to persecute Dafa and Dafa disciples and being used as tools by the old forces to do damage to our "whole body?" In fact, many Chinese practitioners do not want to be accused of trying to take advantage of Dafa and have been doing everything they can to keep their legal status in ways other than applying for asylum. In doing so they are enduring many hardships. Dafa disciples in the Fa-rectification period are doing everything to safeguard Dafa. Even if some practitioners did not have a completely pure motive initially when they applied for asylum, they have been constantly improving and have become genuine Fa-rectification disciples. Their attachments or impure thoughts can by no means regarded as justifiable reasons for the old forces to persecute them.
Some practitioners support those who are applying for asylum, but they haven't understood this from the Fa. I heard one practitioner advise another, "You need to think whether you will be able to sustain the sufferings of that magnitude. If you can't, you could drop down in level from the tribulations. If you think you have cultivated to that level where you can sustain it, then you can go back." I think this is a seriously misguided remark, especially for those whose understanding of the Fa is not very deep, since we must not acknowledge this persecution at all. Are we doing Fa-rectification cultivation just to sustain sufferings and tribulations? Master said, "When Dafa is persecuted, the first thing Dafa disciples should think of is saving sentient beings and how to validate Dafa." ("Touring North America to Teach the Fa") This is what is really required of us according to the Fa. We have not come to this human world to suffer and to eliminate our karma, and we have not come here to cultivate ourselves or to improve ourselves, either. Instead, we have come to the human world to help Master rectify the Fa and save sentient beings. In compliance with the principles of the old cosmos, the old forces want us to establish our mighty virtue through being persecuted. But Master requires us to establish our mighty virtue through breaking through the old forces' arrangements and saving sentient beings. We definitely cannot think that the old forces and the evil have any helpful role to play in the Fa-rectification and our improvement! If we think that way, our minds are still stagnating at the stage of personal cultivation, and we might as well be acknowledging the arrangements made by the old forces.
I think we should look at this issue from a righteous perspective. Practitioners are not applying for asylum in order to hide out and escape persecution. Those evil forces persecuting us count as nothing, and they don't deserve to test Dafa and Dafa disciples. On the contrary, seeking asylum is resisting the evil and plays a role of safeguarding Dafa in the period of Fa-rectification. When I saw that some practitioners in another country equated applying for asylum to writing the so-called "Guarantee Statement," I found the comparison ridiculous.
Some practitioners think that the citizens of that country and public opinion are hostile to asylum seekers, and that we should not become a "burden" or "trouble" for the government and the taxpayers or create a negative public image for Falun Gong. On the radio, TV and in newspapers there are almost daily discussions on the issue of asylum, and it has truly become a very sensitive issue. Master told us that everything in this world has come for Dafa. Therefore, the government and the media should support us, and we should not be looking for reasons for them to justify their failure to support us.
I think we, as Dafa disciples, should have this righteous thought: "Wherever Dafa goes, Dafa should be welcomed." We should put ourselves in a proactive position in Fa-rectification. "Who is really the gallant lead in this gigantic play? I made this trip just for the sake of sentient beings." \ ("Descending to the Earthly World") "Dafa disciples are now sentient beings' only, sole hope for salvation." ("Righteous Thoughts") Having come to today's historic stage in the Fa-rectification, we should be clearly aware of our mission to play the main roles in this great drama. Isn't this a good way to clarify the facts to the government, the public, and the media of our country? When we explain to them why Falun Gong practitioners need help to guarantee their personal safety, we are also telling them what has been happening in China.
This is also a good opportunity for the governments of our countries to show their support for Dafa. If they can help practitioners in difficulties, they are creating a wonderful future for themselves. If they send a Dafa particle into the hands of evil, however, they would be doing the worst thing to Dafa, and it will be very difficult to make up the losses. Things that happened in Germany, Iceland, Cambodia, and Burma have brought huge losses. In democratic countries, the governments are elected by the people and therefore represent the people. If a government cannot understand the benefits Dafa has brought to the human race, fails to stand up against Jiang's Regime's persecution of Falun Gong and its deprivation of practitioners' basic human rights, and even commits wrong-doings under the threat from Jiang's regime, this government has completely lost its righteousness and justice. People have elected them so that they can express their kind ideas and opinions on their behalf. But if the elected cannot represent their constituents in a righteous manner, where will they belong when this drama ends? And what about the people who elected them?
Doesn't how a nation or a country chooses to reposition itself in Fa-rectification depend on how we clarify the facts? Of course, we should be clear in mind that they should support Dafa in the first place. But if we encounter difficulties, that means we haven't clarified the facts clearly and thoroughly enough. As long as we clarify the truth clearly, they should support Dafa. So what remains for us to do is to clarify the facts about Dafa and the persecution to them.
If the government thinks what is happening in China is too far away for them to offer any material support, they are in a perfect position to offer help to practitioners who are currently living in that country.
Lately, quite a few Chinese practitioners have had their asylum claims refused. If we fail to act promptly, they could be sent back to China at any time. The recent Minghui article, which Master commented upon, said, "whether Dafa practitioners participate or not, each individual practitioner's every thought is playing an important, decisive role." "For projects that we cannot participate in, we should still look at them with righteous thoughts, so as to prevent the negating of our strength."
Their cases were not handled properly, in part because they don't speak the language and don't understand the legal procedures of the overseas country in which they apply for asylum. They need help, especially from practitioners who are citizens of the country. Besides sending forth righteous thoughts to support them, we could write letters to our elected officials regarding these practitioners' asylum claims, asking the them to write to immigration authorities. We can explain to the immigration authorities why the government should grant these people refugee status and allow them to stay in the country. We can also explain the situation in China and overseas, so that the government can truly realize the evilness of Jiang's regime.
Almost all practitioners who had their applications refused by the immigration authorities found this same sentence in their refusal letters: "You do not have a well-founded fear of being persecuted if you go back." This indicates that we need to clarify the facts to the government in more depth. I think every practitioner can give good reasons why Chinese practitioners have a well-founded reason to believe that they would be persecuted if they were sent back to China. At the same time, we can write personal references for those practitioners to the minister or other people in charge of immigration issues.
We cannot regard this as merely a practitioner's personal issue any more, and we cannot continue to be callous about the hardships borne by practitioners who have claimed asylum. We should care about these practitioners and their families, who are in great difficulties. Whatever help we can offer, be it material or spiritual, even if it's just a few words with care and warmth, would let them feel the boundless and compassionate power of Dafa, rid them of the terrible feelings of loneliness, and help them strengthen their righteous belief in the Fa, because whatever we are offering them beams with compassion and the sense of "whole body," which are results of our cultivation in this great Fa! Isn't this also a proactive effort to break up the old forces' arrangements?
From the perspective of practitioners who are applying for asylum, I think every applicant should ask himself or herself the question, "Why am I seeking asylum?" And we should understand this issue from the Fa.
I've talked with many practitioners who have applied for asylum, but most of them have never thought carefully about this issue. Some said they applied because other practitioners advised them to do so. Some feel that applying for asylum is not something glorious -- who wants to become a refugee? What's more, some other practitioners don't understand the difficult situation they are in. This makes them feel that they seem to be doing something that is not dignified. Some practitioners are wondering, once they have started the application, when they will be able to go back to China. They are in a situation in which going back doesn't seem to be an option and staying is not something desirable, either. In their hearts, they feel very bitter and that they have lost a lot. Some practitioners think they will just let it be and accept whatever happens: "If the immigration bureau refuses my application, I'll just go home. What's the big deal?" They have taken a passive role in this whole matter, and their passive attitude makes them unable to clarify the facts actively. Some other practitioners think that, because they are not good at the language and don't understand the legalities involved, they don't have to put any effort into this matter, since "There are fellow practitioners who have offered to help."
In view of all the above, we organized these practitioners to study the Fa together and to share their relevant understandings and experiences.
A practitioner had her application refused, and then her appeal case was also turned down (a combination of unlikely circumstances occurred during this process, and also this practitioner doesn't speak the language), which means that the immigration authorities can deport her at any time. She doesn't know what to do, and her husband didn't take it seriously, either. In fact, he didn't even tell other practitioners, thinking that launching another appeal would be too troublesome and that there would be nothing to fear if he were to go back to China with his wife.
It's true that, for Dafa disciples, going back to China isn't anything to fear. But Fa-rectification cultivation shouldn't be confined to the narrow scope of personal cultivation, in which letting go of life and death is the defining factor. Dafa disciples can let go of life and death, because they've seen through the human phenomenon of life and death, and they don't care about the sufferings in such a brief moment in the long journey of life. However, the human bodies of Dafa disciples are used to validate the Fa, and, whatever we do, we must think of the sentient beings waiting to be saved.
Now that you have chosen to apply for asylum, you should approach it with a sense of responsibility towards the sentient beings. Let's think about this: When Dafa is being persecuted in the human world, don't we, as Dafa particles, ask for help from other countries? If this country does not care and does not offer any help, what will its future be like? This will bring us immense losses. We represent Dafa in the human world, and we are playing such magnificent roles. We want to save sentient beings, and whether or not we can do it successfully depends on whether we can really have consideration for them, use our hearts to tell them of the goodness of Dafa, and let them support Dafa.
After she began her asylum application, a practitioner said that she felt that she had been connected with the destiny of that country and felt a great sense of responsibility. Every Dafa disciple should understand his or her own role correctly.
Therefore, how can we take it lightly and give up those sentient beings just because we don't want trouble? We should try our best to appeal and to regard this process as an opportunity to whole-heartedly clarify the facts.
With regard to clarifying the facts, there is another, unfortunate phenomenon among the practitioners applying for asylum. Some have not put their hearts into the effort, relying instead on other practitioners. With other people's help, a lot of materials have been collected and sent to immigration bureaux, but the practitioners themselves sometimes don't even know what information these materials contain. Aren't those applying for asylum supposed to be clarifying the facts to the government? Can it ever be right if they themselves don't know what to talk about?
When applying for asylum, one needs to go through an interview, in which the applicant is required to state his or her reasons for seeking asylum. If you can tell the Immigration Officers what Dafa is really about and describe the evil nature of Jiang's regime, aren't you validating Dafa to them and manifesting the spirit of Dafa through your action? Some practitioners cannot even name all five exercises during the interview, and others cannot explain the April 25th incident. Some of them cannot even remember what they themselves said in the statement they submitted to the Immigration Bureau. These things make the Immigration Officers believe you are a fake Falun Gong practitioner. Can this be a responsible attitude? How can we save sentient beings with such an attitude?
One practitioner saw his asylum application as a good opportunity to clarify the facts to the government, to save sentient beings, and took it very seriously from the very beginning. He prepared every document carefully and, during his interview, instead of just answering the Immigration Officer's questions, took complete control of the meeting, telling the officer what Dafa is, how Jiang Zemin has been persecuting Dafa, how his regime has been trying to extend the terror beyond the Chinese border, and why the persecution happened. He gave many examples of how evil Jiang's state terrorism has been and how genocide is being committed against a group of people whose only agenda is to cultivate according to the principle of "Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance." He told the officer that if the Chinese dictators were to be appeased and allowed to get away with their systematic anti-human policies of genocide, then the whole world would suffer the consequences sooner or later. The Immigration Officer took a great deal of interest in his testimony and said Falun Gong people's analyses were truly great. As a result, this practitioner's refugee status was granted soon afterwards. Therefore, every asylum applicant needs to be responsible in clarifying the facts. I suggest that other countries also organize all practitioners applying for asylum to study the Fa together, share their thinking about the asylum issue, and discuss how better to clarify the facts.
We must also look within ourselves. When a state persists, we need to search our own hearts to see whether we have some loopholes in our xinxing that have been taken advantage of by the old forces. I know that some practitioners whose applications take a long time to ratify complain about the government. This isn't the right thing to do, because it's looking externally for reasons that won't have any real effects. It is understandable that before the application is ratified, practitioners may suffer painful feelings of uncertainty, because we all have human attachments left within ourselves. Since we are Fa-rectification Dafa disciples, however, I think that we should maintain our righteous thoughts. No matter how hard it is, we should not consider ourselves and should keep in mind Dafa and the sentient beings.
Of course, we should not be attached to the results, whether or not the immigration bureau will grant us legal status. Master said in Zhuan Falun, "it is an attachment if you think too much about them. Aren't you attached to a pursuit if you think too much about it?" Master also said, "Get rid of any attachment you have, and don't think about anything. Just do everything a Dafa disciple should do, and everything will be covered." ("Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. International Fa Conference")
Instead, we need to calm down and study the Fa every day, because studying the Fa well is a guarantee for maintaining powerful righteous thoughts and doing Dafa work effectively and efficiently. Master said, "When you do well in the Fa-rectification, I can see that it's always because you are able to understand the Fa from the Fa; and when you do somewhat poorly, I can see that it's because you aren't making a priority of Fa-study and you aren't able to understand the Fa from the Fa." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2002 Fa Conference in Boston")
Master said, "To do well is to not walk down the path arranged by the old forces." ("Teaching the Fa at the Washington, D.C. Fa Conference, 2002") On this sensitive issue of asylum application, we must do well and walk down a righteous path. Because "This Great Fa of the cosmos is to leave for sentient beings at different levels in different periods of history a reference for when problems occur in different periods at different levels, and is to leave for beings ways of handling all kinds of situations that occur at different times in history." ("Teaching the Fa at the 2001 Canada Fa Conference")
Because of my personal limitations and the fact that some of the specifics described above are related only to my own country, the above personal sharing is just for your kind reference, and I welcome anyone to point out anything in it that is not in compliance with the Fa principles. I hope we could use our wisdom, which has come from our cultivation in the Great Fa, to save more sentient beings.