Many countries have refused to accept refugees on grounds that offering asylum to one group might lead to an influx of more refugees and things would get out of control. My answer is that when we accepted all the Chinese people who fled to Âu Lạc (Vietnam), it did not trigger an exodus of immigrants from mainland China. Did it?
No. No one would leave their motherland unless they had a good reason to do so. People who are living in security would not leave their homeland. Even if they did move to another country, it would depend on their blessings and on God's arrangements for them. Âu Lạc's (Vietnam) offering of refuge to hundreds of thousands or millions of Chinese people did not lead to an exodus of all the people from mainland China or Formosa (Taiwan) to do business there. There are only a few ten thousand Aulacese (Vietnamese) refugees today. Formosa (Taiwan) could easily accommodate them. We do not seek financial or other forms of assistance from the government, nor would we cause them concern.
We would be most happy to share the honor of caring for these victims who are just like us. Why has the Aulacese (Vietnamese) refugee issue become so pressing? Because under the threat of forced repatriation, the refugees are in utter despair, and some of them have committed suicide. Nearly 100 refugees have committed suicide in just two or three days. We don't know what the situation will be like if this continues. Wealth makes us forget the times of suffering and the possibility that we might ourselves become refugees one day. Very soon we will enter the 21st century, yet such things continue to happen.
Do you think this is how humanity should act? I am not only concerned about the Aulacese (Vietnamese) refugees. I'm worried about the world's level of consciousness I cannot imagine what the world would be like if such backward things and barbaric continue. Will it become hell? Will we kill each other, rob each other, or act like animals? An animals would fight with any other animal intruding into its territory. Should we, human beings, act in a similar manner? Before we were born, Hong Kong has already existed. Before we were born, Formosa (Taiwan) has already existed. Formosa (Taiwan) belongs to God. Hong Kong belongs to God. All countries are created by God.
Please do not forget that we are only borrowing this Earth to stay for a while. But many people have forgotten that. We are blinded by temporary gains; we have forgotten our human nature and our conscience. If we continue to attack and kill one another and forget to share our wealth and fortunes with others, this world would turn for the worse. We human beings cannot behave like animals or treat each other the way ghosts treat their prisoners in hell; otherwise we could easily turn this beautiful world into hell because people usually emulate each other.
One of the UN regulations states: "No one shall be imprisoned for no reason." These people are treated not as refugees but as prisoners. Each one of them is assigned a small corner, like chickens locked up in cages. Are you aware of that? Under these circumstances, we can say that the Aulacese (Vietnamese) refugees have been extremely patient and docile. For six years, or perhaps ten, they have been sharing a small bed with three or four people, with tier after tier of beds above them, until the top tier reaches the ceiling, which is made of iron sheets.
There are no trees in the camp, and there is a shortage of water and toilets. Children grow up behind barbed wires, knowing nothing about the outside world. This is already a violation of basic human rights. Yet on top of that, tear gas grenades were fired; helicopters and boats were ordered to spray poisonous gas down upon them, into the faces of the children. Some children have not yet regained their eyesight. Two months have passed, and many people are still suffering from their injuries and cannot see clearly.
Some may not even recover from the mental trauma. When they fled from Âu Lạc (Vietnam), they did not imagine that such violence could occur in a so-called “democratic country.” It has struck terror into them. Some have become deranged and were sent to mental institutions. For what? What crimes have they committed? Is this just because they want freedom as we do? Actually, Hong Kong is rich enough to purchase the whole of Âu Lạc (Vietnam).
However, they have chosen to deport them. And even using tear gas and poison to harm the refugees who were pleading not to be deported. As a result, the refugees would rather die than lead such lives. Should this situation continue, there will be no hope for this world. It doesn't matter if a few thousand refugees die because the physical body is ephemeral. It doesn't matter if you have it today and lose it tomorrow. But what about our conscience? What about the vicious energy of the world? Can our children survive in such an atmosphere? If such vicious energy prevails, our children will become even worse because they'll imitate the adults. If we care not what we do to the refugees - their deaths might not matter, a few thousand lives might not count - but what about the conscience of this world?
Where is the spirit of freedom and democracy, the religious spirit that Catholic and Buddhist countries should have? How can people worship at temples, reciting sutras, bowing to the Buddha's statues, saying "love thy neighbor" and yet not do anything for your neighbors - and you feed them tear gas canisters instead?
Merely believing in a religion is not enough. We should put into practice the essence of that religion and the teachings we have learned from Jesus and the Buddha. Then we can be considered as a religious follower. Otherwise, even if you have built many temples and big churches, it's all useless if you are indifferent to the person standing at your doorstep, toiling and begging for a bowl of rice or safe shelter. Do you think God would have mercy on us? When we ask for God's help, would Hes help us? Would Buddha listen to our prayers?
I am somewhat comforted today to see that there are still so many good people in Formosa (Taiwan) and that there are still many compassionate people in the world. I had felt so depressed, but today, seeing so many of you, including the dignitaries from Formosa (Taiwan), and those of you who have come from different parts of the world to extend your support to the weak and homeless refugees, I have found hope again.
I hope... I hope that our world will change for the better in the coming 21st century, that people will love and protect each other. No matter how many refugees we have, the problem will be solved if every family opens its door to just one refugee. After a period of time, the refugees will adapt to the new environment and be able to stand on their own feet and make their own living. They will not be a lifelong burden.
Besides, God sometimes tests us by sending suffering people to our doorstep to see whether we follow Hiers teachings, whether we truly have love for others. Therefore, do not let this opportunity slip by. The Aulacese (Vietnamese) people are very independent and they have high self-esteem. They do not like to lead a nomadic life away from their homeland, begging for food and love from other people. In their four to five thousand years of history, none of the Aulacese (Vietnamese) had ever fled their own country to become a refugee.
There were no refugees even at times of impoverishment or during the frequent wars. China ruled Âu Lạc (Vietnam) for a millennium, yet no one fled. France ruled it for a hundred years, and no one left then either. Some wars lasted for decades, and floods and other natural disasters struck the country, yet no one tried to escape. Why then are they fleeing their country now? Why are millions of the Aulacese (Vietnamese) - men and women, old and young, rich and poor, politicians and civilians - fleeing their own country after five thousand years of history? Please think about it. It is because God wants us to know that love is a precious treasure, that freedom is the right ideal. If we turn our backs on these refugees, we will be betraying our own ideal. We will be the ones who are really pitiful, not the refugees. It is our ideal, our soul, our noble way of thinking that is important, not our physical life. Thank you very much.
* Next, we will play a film featuring Aulacese (Vietnamese) refugees. This is one of the main theme of today's conference. We need to learn more about the situation of the refugees so that we know how to help them.
Ladies and gentlemen, this document is very, very precious, very rare! Maybe you'll take a little time to study. If you remember, this is during the Chinese and Japanese war. People were killed alive; buried alive and killed with knives. This could happen to us, anytime, if war continues. So many people died just because of the ambitions of a few. You see this is new: can you see a woman suffering from a machete wound? Half of her head is chopped like that. And children, many children, also suffering from the war. So young, and people tried to kill her by chopping her head. This is advertisement from the UN, United Nations. Nowin Rwanda, many children are also being killed.
The woman we just saw was chopped by a machete; her head was chopped almost in half. She was dying. This picture is in the advertisement that the United Nations ran to raise donations for the children of the war refugees. These are the things that happened in wars. If we are not careful, if we don't love one another, there will be more wars, and it will happen to us, our friends and relatives. War is never about one country: all countries suffer from it.
When I was working in the Red Cross for the refugees, some of them came to Germany, a very cold country in winter, with only one short pants, nothing more on their bodies. We had to bring blankets to wrap them up right away, otherwise they would freeze to death. Even children had nothing on their body, and not eating, drinking, for many days.
When I was working for the Red Cross, I received some of them. When some of them, including the children, came to Germany in the cold winter, they had only one pair of short pants. We had to give them blankets right way. Otherwise, they might have died.
*When I got out of the car, the first things I saw were fences that were about 5 meters high, all barbed wires. When the communists occupied Âu Lạc (Vietnam), all the concentration camps in Âu Lạc (Vietnam) used this kind of barbed wire, and that was my first impression.
*It looks, at first glance, like a concentration camp and that impression does not go away. The camp is divided into eight different sections, each section housing 2,000 people in the area, in an area the size of a football field. Each section has 20 huts; in each hut are 100 people - bunkbeds in each section - and you have people on each side of you, and above you and below you, so that everybody just has no privacy, and are cooped up like chickens.
*The conditions at Whitehead and all the other centers can be characterized by extreme overcrowding, sterility, and inhumane and degrading.
*The current situation facing the young children in the refugee camps is of grave concern; they have no freedom yet. Each day we should give the children a few hours outside the confines of the barbed wire so that they can get some benefi from nature, the weather, and to acquaint themselves with the external natural environment and acquire different ways of life while at the same time help with their mental development. This is so precious, yet currently unachievable. That is what we hope for.
*I would say the conditions in which the Aulacese (Vietnamese) asylum seekers are housed are much worse than the conditions in which convicted prisoners are housed I think if you went to a maximum security prison, you would find they are treated much much better than the average Aulacese (Vietnamese) boat persons who are placed in conditions which fall far below those which are prescribed, which are internationally accepted standards for the treatment of prisoners.
*The results of living in those conditions are traumatization and increase in psychological problems. Deterioration is coupled with an extreme sense of fear - fear over the screening process, fear of repatriation to Âu Lạc (Vietnam); a very heightened level of stress. It's probably impossible to quantify the damags that is happening to people by living for years in those conditions.
*Why do we have to bear this here? Within reason, we can bear it. When they have imprisoned us here, then we think of them as soldiers. It was crowded in the room.)
*On May 4, in the early hours of the morning, somewhere between 2 and 3 o'clock, 1200-plus police in tactical riot gear came in to Whitehead, truck after truck after truck, driving down there, the main strip, and surrounding the whole center.
*At five o'clock sharp, tactical unit officers poured into the center…
*They had everything. Above I saw cars equipped with big guns, armored cars aiming at the camp. We felt there would be arrests and repression taking place. I don't want to mention about the room. Inside, there were many people and policemen. Perhaps they forced the people to repatriate. And then the policemen began to stream into the camps.
Why were they everywhere? So, the people went and looked for a megaphone so that I could call all the people to go to sit in the soccer field, the place that's the most airy in the camp. As all of us are innocent, living very orderly and peacefully in the camp and didn't have any security issues, here was no reason for the police to “care for us” with grenades and tear gas, and even using bludgeons later on.
*Of course, the first reaction of the Aulacese (Vietnamese) was, “This was a forced repatriation. They're coming to get us.” It was, as far as the asylum seekers was concerned, in no way routine, and extremely frightening.
* We sat for a very long time and pardon it was very difficult to go to the bathroom, and there was no way to do that. And I was the one who urged the others not to do that, and I think what I did was very correct. Of course I also expressed my anger towards such action, but I urged everyone to restrain themselves, to be in control of their actions at that moment and everyone listened to me and everyone sat quietly on the ground. But when the policemen came in we were just carrying out a simple action: all of us called out, protesting their wrong actions. We did not commit any violence. Never once did we do anything was against the law.
* I have acted for two Aulacese (Vietnamese) who were challenging the legality of it. In May of last year, they participated in a peaceful protest at Whitehead Center, which was directed against mandatory repatriation and against the government screening procedures, against the unfairness of those procedures. The most disturbing aspect of it was that they were not subjected to any process of criminal trial; there were no charges put to them, they were simply taken from Whitehead Center and put into Stanley prison, and they were kept in Stanley until they were moved to another center, called Chi Ma Wan.
No one could help us at that moment. We were not allowed to see anyone then, so how could justice possibly bring light into the prison? Because of that, I have cried so many times in prison because I have empathy for my countrymen. Until today, it's still the same. In court they still say that I am a liar. Not only was justice not carried out, they even slandered us, smearing our dignity. It wasn't because I suddenly insisted on returning to Camp 6; it was because of protecting my honor and dignity.
* This is, to all intents and purposes, a gulag. I mean, it's a human rights' nightmare and they would wish as little of this to get out as possible, and therefore they do take steps to disempower the individuals. And the overall effect of removing from a community those people who are able to articulate their pain is, in fact, to reduce those people, to disempower them, to destroy their will, really, to see their way through to the protection that many of them deserve.
* The government have collaborated to deny the right of asylum seekers to seek asylum, for if the only thing they can expect when they flee persecution is to be persecuted again in the country in which they seek freedom, then there is no meaning to the concept of refugee law.
We hope that the government delay or don't force them to commit suicide. And, isn't freedom and democracy and humanity that we all strive to achieve? We are negotiating with other countries, of treating each other like brothers and sisters, especially women and children.
Sing hallelujah to the Lord. Sing hallelujah to the Lord. Sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah. Sing hallelujah to the Lord.
* Refugees, please treasure your lives. Refugees, please treasure your lives. Refugees, treasure your life! Refugees, treasure your life! We love you, refugees. We love you, refugees.
Refugees, please treasure your life.
Refugees, be brave! Refugees, be brave!
We love you! We love you! We love you! We protest the terrorizing action of the government!
* Protest! Protest! Protest!
* Mistreating the boat people is an evil deed.
*Evil deed! Evil deed! Evil deed!
* We'd rather die than go back.
*Rather die! Rather die! Rather die!
*Forever! Forever! Forever!
*Committed to strive until the end!
* Committed! Committed! Committed!
* Committed to hunger strike for freedom!
*Committed! Committed! Committed! And we also believe that God created our body and therefore we should not harm it. We have no right to destroy it. We risked our lives on the high seas, pitting our lives against the storm devils in order to find freedom. But, beyond our expectations, upon our arrival we were imprisoned behind four walls. My “house” is so hot, like fire. The fan is not working. And, dear God, the poor newborn babies… Who can bear it?
* …staged a rally today. The group says it fears a spate of suicides among the remaining Aulacese (Vietnamese) boat people because of the forced repatriation policy. Derek Johnson reports.
* They've come from more than 20 nations. Devotees of an international spiritual group, claiming the government's treatment of Vietnamese boat people is nothing less than criminal. Their rally outside the central government offices this afternoon heralds almost a week of tranquil protest including a trip to the Whitehead Center. The International Supreme Master Ching Hai Association looks to this woman, who says the pilgrimage of peace was sparked by fears some Aulacese (Vietnamese) inmates planned to kill themselves rather than be sent home.
We will go to the camp tomorrow and also sit and pray for them, to comfort their souls, so that they might not commit suicide as the information we have received. We hope it is not true, the information, but we can't afford to wait until it becomes true.
* The Association describes the forced eviction at Whitehead earlier this month as a wound on the human conscience. These protesters prefer prayer and meditation to more vocal demonstration. They may not be saying much but they hope the government will hear their plea to release the remaining Aulacese (Vietnamese) from its camps. But the group claims to be offering more than its prayers, saying it has millions of dollars to give countries, which will accept the remaining boat people.
* Hundreds of members of the Ching Hai meditation association sat outside the Whitehead Center this morning. They say they're trying to persuade inmates not to take their own lives to protest the mandatory repatriation policy. Thousands of Aulacese (Vietnamese) demonstrated inside the Whitehead and High Island camps today and more than five hundred are staging a hunger strike.
* This film is to let you know a little about the plight of the refugees. We have prepared copies of this film for you. If you want to know more, you can take it home and take the time to watch it.
…I fell from the roof, I was burned and then was beaten by the police…
…I was a hunger striker who just got emergency care at the hospital. My health is not yet recovered, when I was taken to prison and treated badly. I'm very angry and hurt being under this kind of cruel treatment…
…The protesters just sat down on the field; the police then lined up using water spraying rifles to spray hot pepper water into the face of everyone sitting on the field…
…After a while, the tear gas dispersed, I woke up and saw my baby frothing at the mouth…
Freedom or death!
Boat people plan “mass suicide”
We are ready to sacrifice 25,999 persons.
Vietnamese refugees committed suicide to protest against forced repatriation.
The Supreme Master Ching hai with her disciples from around the world support the Aulacese (Vietnamese) Refugees' signature activities.
At the same time, in United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Holland, Finland, Australia, R.S.Africa, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc., are enthusiastic supporting the signature activities.
Free world Accept Vietnamese refugees One signature saves many lives
Vietnamese boat people continue to mutilate themselves
A fatality of 80 have joined the self-mutilation act
This was the oppressive situation that existed four years ago. Now, after so many years, they are still doing these things - frightening and abusing the refugees. That's why we need to urgently save them. This is to let you know a little bit. The video is long and we worry that you cannot stay that long. Let's continue with our program.