The Falun Dafa Association of Saipan is now conducting a signature drive to support a petition letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
The group's spokesman, Vincent Perez, said he drafted the letter, which the group plans to send to the Secretary of State immediately after the Flame Tree Arts Festival.
As of yesterday, more than 50 have already signed the petition letter and Perez said the group hopes to get more signatures before the festival ends in April.
Perez said the petition letter is based on similar petitions that other Falun Gong groups have initiated all over the world. The group is also known by that name.
|[Practitioners] of the Falun Dafa Association of Saipan conduct one of their meditation exercises. (Photo by Agnes E. Donato)|
The one-page letter states that the undersigned community members call on the United States to demand that the government of the People's Republic of China cease its persecution of Falun Gong immediately. It also asked for the release of all Falun Gong prisoners in China.
"We will extend it [signature drive] until the end of the Flame Tree festival," said Perez. "Hopefully by sending this letter to the Secretary of State, they would know that the people of CNMI are also concerned about the issue."
Perez also stated on the letter that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a host of other human rights organization have reported that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China have been arrested on spurious charges, with thousands more being sent to slave labor camps without trial.
"Torture is widespread, and now accounts for at least 1,500 deaths in police custody. Thousands have been stripped of their homes, jobs, education, and even families," said the petition letter.
Perez also said the suppression of Falun Gong by Chinese authorities has spread overseas to democratic countries, "notably on American soil." The letter alleges that China has attempted to influence and intimidate officials at all levels of the U.S. government who support Falun Gong, as well as harass, threaten and violently beat United States citizens.
The letter said the reported beatings of Americans has led the U.S. House of Representatives to unanimously pass Resolution 188, calling for an immediate investigation and action against any Chinese government personnel that are found to be involved.
In addition, the resolution also condemns the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China and in America.
"The PRC's cover-up of SARS has shown that there are global consequences for lying, callous disregard for human life and denial accountability," said the letter.
Perez said they are doing this to let the international community know that Falun Gong practitioners in the CNMI have a voice, too.
"Saipan Falun Gong are not afraid to go out in public on Saipan," he said. "We are very much visible at the Thursday night Garapan Street Market. We also practice every evening in the Immigration Building parking lot, and also every Sunday morning at Banzai Cliff."
The Falun Dafa Association of Saipan was founded in 1996.
Visual artist Xiaoping Chen, who is holding an art exhibit at the Council of Arts gallery, is encouraging everyone to view the exhibit and sign the petition letter, which is also being circulated at the event.
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