The Tai Ji Men case in Taiwan discussed among the main religious
International scholars explore 25 years of human rights and religious freedom violations against Tai Ji Men at 82nd Annual Meeting of Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR), promoted by Action Alliance to Straighten 1219.
CHICAGO, August 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – August 8, 2021, at the 82nd annual meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (ASR), one of the leading international societies for the scientific study of religion , a session was devoted to “Relevant spirituality: The Tai Ji Men case and protests in Taiwan. It is one of the forums that has been looking at the case since last July, attracting more and more international attention, and the Action Alliance to Redress 1219 has been working to rectify the case since then.
More than 10,000 people took to the streets of Taipei to protest the illegal auction and confiscation of land, which took place on August 21, 2020, belonging to a spiritual organization known as Tai Ji Men, intended for a center. of retirement. It was a recent episode in a 25-year legal saga that began in 1996, when the group was raided and its leader and other members were arrested. In the end, Tai Ji Men won all the criminal cases, and those arrested received compensation for unjust imprisonment. However, as a by-product, a tax case is still pending. The session explored what the Tai Ji Men case reveals to the world about the relevance of new religious movements and spiritual groups in Taiwan, how they are reaching their voices in the media and politicians, and the role of religion in the contemporary Taiwanese society.
Eileen Barker, Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics and one of the founders of the modern discipline of the academic study of new religious movements, spoke of “A Surprising Case: What Tai Ji Men Tells Us About Taiwan “. Professor Barker, who has been to Taiwan and knows the country well, provided insight into Taiwan’s religious history and background and expressed shock as the Tai Ji Men case unfolded in a democratic country , a “wonderful tapestry of ethnicities and religions”. She observed that after the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of Taiwan declared Tai Ji Men innocent of tax evasion and all other charges, the tax bureaucrats continued to harass him for more than 20 years. reminded the audience that in many democracies “it is not politics or even the law that seems to be the problem. It is the administration of law or politics. The executive branch has always dominated the judiciary. and legislative being under its control to some extent. “The difference with Tai Ji Men is that they are fighting,” she noted, adding, “They are fighting to preserve Taiwan as a democratic country. which follows its own laws and stifles corruption in the bureaucracy.
Professor Massimo Introvigne, another well-known specialist in new religious movements and Director General of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religious Movements) in Turin, Italy, spoke about “Tai Ji Men: A Background”. What exactly is Tai Ji Men? asked Introvigne. Rather than a religious movement, he replied, they would rather be called a “menpai” (similar to a “school”) of martial arts, qigong and self-cultivation, rooted in esoteric Taoism. His article traced the history of Tai Ji Men and its expansion from Taiwan to other countries, and of its founder, Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze. Professor Introvigne attempted to explain why the movement was religiously persecuted by the government from 1996, which happened for political reasons, and discussed its likely future after the tax affair and the protests of massive street of 2020-2021.
Willy Fautré, co-founder and director of the Brussels NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers, presented “A Comparative Study of State Control of Religions Through Taxation in France and Taiwan”. States, said Fautré, must accept the transformation of the profile of their populations and adapt to new sociological dynamics without privileging or discriminating against any religious or spiritual group. The world is not ideal, however, and many states of different cultures do not respect this fundamental principle of neutrality. Fautré claimed that the French and Taiwanese states have used and abused their tax systems to stigmatize peaceful and law-abiding religious groups that they do not like for any reason and to try to destroy them financially. There is a supranational court in Europe that can correct questionable national judgments, the European Court of Human Rights, said Fautré, adding: “There is no such supranational court in Taiwan and the way to it. UN is politically closed to Taiwanese victims of injustice. This is why it is important to put their problem on the radar of countries which are committed to freedom of religion or belief and which can use their soft power in Taiwan to get Tai Ji Men’s case properly fixed.
Pier Marco Ferraresi, professor at the School of Economics at the Italian University of Turin, presented “An economist’s point of view” on the Tai Ji Men case. “The bad news for tax justice is that the National Tax Office has emerged in the Tai Ji Men case as an instrument of some politicians and bureaucrats to carry out a persecution against a legitimate spiritual movement,” he said. noted, adding, “This case needs the attention and support of more international human rights organizations to push the government and officials in Taiwan to immediately resolve the case and reform its policy. tax system to ensure that its persecutory use is not repeated in the future.
“I sincerely admire the perseverance of the Tai Ji Men in continuing their struggle on political and cultural grounds, and of those who are trying to educate the world about a matter which is equally important to economists, however important the state may be. of right and freedom. to be. The international community should condemn those who have caused such gross human rights violations against Tai Ji Men, and I hope that all cases of persecution against religious or spiritual movements by the taxation, by any government in the world, will cease, “Professor Ferraresi said.
Dr Linda Chen, postdoctoral research associate at Dalhousie University in Canada and dizi (disciple) of Tai Ji Men herself, presented an insider’s perspective on Tai Ji Men’s protests related to the case. fiscal. She also featured Who Stole Their Youth? a book published in Chinese in 2020 and English in 2021, which documents the dilemma of Tai Ji Men members facing state power and rogue bureaucrats in Taiwan. She said, “It baffled me that these bureaucrats did not care about the mental and emotional damage they had done to a peaceful spiritual group; they violated the rights of Tai Ji Men Shifu (master) and Dizi to freedom of religion or belief; they are notorious for going after bonus money or job performance credits. “I think the injustice of the Tai Ji Men case needs to end urgently. Justice and rectification of the failing judicial and administrative systems are desperately needed for Taiwan, so that they can truly become a people-centered democratic country that also respects human rights, restoring peace and pure land in the world. people’s hearts, ”she added, calling for cooperation between academics, human rights activists and dizi to resolve the Tai Ji Men case.
Since July 2020, the Tai Ji Men case has been widely discussed and has attracted more and more attention from the international community. The Action Alliance to Redress 1219 has launched a campaign to show that this case in Taiwan deserves international attention as it is not just a national Taiwanese issue or appears to be a tax dispute when in fact it is a matter of freedom of religion or belief. The Alliance will continue its efforts and urge that the matter be resolved in a fair and open manner as soon as possible.
About Action Alliance to Redress 1219: Action Alliance to Redress 1219 is a group of international and Taiwanese legal, religious and human rights scholars who work to restore the truth about the ongoing persecution of Tai Ji Men in Taiwan by a small group of bureaucrats who has been going on for 25 years, as well as their abuse of power and violations of the law. In addition to rectifying the Tai Ji Men case and revealing the truth, he is also committed to defending religious freedom and exposing related injustices in Taiwan. The Alliance calls on those in power not to ignore people’s basic human rights and demands that those responsible be held accountable to protect democracy, the rule of law and justice.
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