Asylum seekers sue US, CNMI governments

Posted on Sep 03 1999

Two asylum seekers, one of them a former student activist in Beijing, yesterday asked the federal court to stop the US and CNMI governments from sending them back to China where they are facing persecution.

Rui Lang and Liao Da Nian are both incarcerated in the CNMI Immigration Detention Center on overstaying charges. They are awaiting the Superior Court’s decision on the Department of Labor and Immigration’s bid to have them deported.

Bruce Jorgensen, attorney for Rui and Liao, said that under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the United States is bound to protect persons seeking refugee status or asylum within the CNMI and to ensure that they are not sent back to their countries of origin.

Jorgensen said Rui and Liao are both in danger of being “personally threatened or harmed” by authorities of the communist government if they are sent back to Beijing.

Rui was involved in the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, where hundreds of demonstrators were massacred by government agents. Rui was shot during the demonstration, according to documents.

Rui’s former friend and fellow political activist Lian Fei later traveled to Guam where he was able to obtain a US green card.

When Fei went back to China for a temporary visit, authorities confiscated his green card.

Rui has since not heard from Fei, who was believed to have either been imprisoned or killed by government agents.

Rui, who is now married to a US citizen, doesn’t have a passport because of the Chinese government’s refusal to issue him one.

Jorgensen said Rui is afraid that “he will be killed imprisoned, and tortured” in Beijing because of his political and religious activities.

The other asylum seeker, Liao, has been residing in the CNMI for several years. He was able to raise money for his travel expenses to the CNMI by borrowing $10,000 from persons believed to be “affiliated with or connected to politically powerful” Chinese government officials.

Liao is afraid to go back to China because he has failed to pay his loans.

The complaint filed in the US District Court of Saipan stated that persons like Liao, who have departed China by borrowing money from persons with connections to powerful officials must either repay those funds with exorbitant interest or face the possibility of being personally threatened or harmed or having their families suffer the same fate.

Liao has more than one child and faces sterilization when he goes back to China, which follows the one-child policy.
“The US government is empowered with authority over all US treaties, international human rights obligations, and matters falling with the scope of the Immigration and Naturalization Act,” Jorgensen said.

He added that the US government has duties and responsibilities to regulate human rights and immigration matters within the CNMI “including but not limited to issues relating to asylum or refugee requests by person from [China] and elsewhere.”

Rui and Liao have filled up application forms for refugee/asylum, which were turned down by Oscar Martinez, an INS official based on Saipan.

Martinez earlier told Jorgensen that no INS office would process his clients’ asylum application.

In the complaint, Jorgensen also lambasted acting Atty. General Maya Kara and Labor Secretary Mark Zachares for their refusal to facilitate his requests for information relating to the CNMI’s policy on asylum applicants. (MCM)

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