The global community calls on the Taiwanese government to rectify the Tai Ji Men case and protect religious freedom and human rights
Protest in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nearly 60 representatives of worldwide Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) gathered in Washington, D.C., on December 5-7 to protest against the Taiwanese government’s indifference to their case, a major case of religious persecution, and against its connivance with a few bureaucrats who have broken the law and abused their power. Over the past 25 years, Tai Ji Men has been persecuted through both judicial and tax measures, and its sacred land intended for a spiritual center was illegally and forcibly auctioned last year. Tai Ji Men’s shifu (master) and dizi have exhausted all remedies available to them in Taiwan, but to no avail! Concerned that their families in Taiwan might be purged, Tai Ji Men dizi in the United States presented their case to several Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices around the world, but only received deceptive responses from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, National Taxation Bureau, and others. They had no choice but to hold the first international press conference since its inception 55 years ago, in Washington, D.C., the world’s political capital, to seek international support, reveal the truth about the bogus Tai Ji Men case, and call on the Taiwanese government to implement transitional justice.
On December 5, dozens of representatives of Tai Ji Men dizi, ranging in age from 10 to 80 years old, protested in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the White House, and National Christmas Tree, hoping that by courageously stepping forward and revealing the truth, more people will understand this fabricated and unjust Tai Ji Men case, and they demanded the Taiwanese government to administer policies in accordance with the law, return Tai Ji Men’s sacred land, which was forcibly confiscated, and protect people’s religious freedom and human rights! Many other visitors expressed support for Tai Ji Men’s worthy cause, and some even joined the protest, holding signs in support of universal human rights and religious freedom.
On the morning of December 6, the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized an international forum, under the theme of “Human Rights and Anti-Corruption: The Tai Ji Men Case” in honor of International Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10). Several international scholars and experts, who are concerned about the Tai Ji Men case, as well as Tai Ji Men dizi, participated in the conference in person or virtually, with many more attending via Zoom and YouTube.
Prof. Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist who is the founder and managing director of CESNUR, and the editor-in-chief of Bitter Winter, stated, “In the Tai Ji Men case, bureaucrats forgot, or willingly ignored, that they are ‘civil servants’ and should work at the service of the deeper aims of the state, human rights and the well-being of citizens. Instead, they believed they were called to protect bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake, not to mention they tried to enrich themselves through the bonuses.”
PierLuigi Zoccatelli, professor of Sociology of Religions at Pontifical Salesian University, Italy, criticized Taiwan’s bonus system, saying, “Unless the bureaucrats are all angels, the system also becomes a machine to generate corruption.” Prof. Zoccatelli remarked that corruption played a crucial role in the Tai Ji Men case, resulting in violations of Tai Ji Men’s human rights, and that because Taiwan made the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) part of its domestic law, it should enforce the Covenant and correct the injustices against Tai Ji Men.
Willy Fautré, co-founder and director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, pointed out, “It is obvious that in Taiwan there are abuses by the administrative power for private gain. What is at stake here is the system of bonuses which viciously leads to the over-collection of taxes and even the fabrication of tax evasion taxes. This is an abuse of power for private financial gain.”
Camelia Marin, deputy director of the NGO Soteria International (Denmark), conveyed her admiration for Tai Ji Men’s efforts to insist on doing what is right: “Let me express my gratitude for the perseverance and optimism that Tai Ji Men shows and shares by standing for their case, for their rights, bringing hope to the many others around the world who have not yet found justice but are still persecuted.” She urged the Taiwanese government to rectify the Tai Ji Men case: “Now is the time to solve it.”
Alessandro Amicarelli, a London-based human rights lawyer and the president of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB), said, “Corruption is at the very core of the Tai Ji Men case.” He believes that it is now time to move from prosecuting the innocent to prosecuting the rogue bureaucrats, who have wrongly prosecuted Tai Ji Men and violated their human rights.
Eight Tai Ji Men dizi spoke out against the persecution of themselves and their families by Taiwanese authorities, calling on the Taiwanese government to rectify the mistakes made by the unscrupulous government officials and return to Tai Ji Men the justice it deserves.
On the afternoon of December 6, Tai Ji Men dizi visited the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S. again. It was their fourth visit to this Office. They hoped to meet with Representative Hsiao, who could help pass on their concern and message about the Tai Ji Men case to the Taiwanese government to immediately resolve the issue. They protested for over two and a half hours, but no one from the office came out to respond to their demands.
On December 7, the first international press conference on the Tai Ji Men case was held in the world’s political capital, and the news was published on Yahoo, the Toronto Sun, and other media outlets. Prof. Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and the editor-in-chief of Bitter Winter, introduced the event and explained that Bitter Winter is known for its support for Taiwan, and that the Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) in the United States also love their country of origin. It is precisely because of their love for Taiwan that they want it to eliminate the ghosts of its authoritarian past and improve its international image as a truly democratic country where human rights prevail.
Prof. Introvigne had studied the Tai Ji Men case for years and emphasized, “The Taiwan government is not understanding the Tai Ji Men case in its proper terms. It’s not a domestic or technical tax case, but it’s a human rights case based on freedom of religion or belief.” “It’s a case impacting negatively on the international image of Taiwan,” said Prof. Introvigne. He urged the Taiwanese government to resolve the Tai Ji Men case as soon as possible by saying, “We live in a historical moment when Taiwan needs the maximum support from its international friends. But a precondition for its support to be effective is for Taiwan to put its own house in order.”
Willy Fautré, co-founder and director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, also stated that the Tai Ji Men case is not a technical tax dispute, but rather a case of human rights abuses. He said that the bureaucrats who pursued Tai Ji Men were motivated by corruption, including the immoral bonus system for tax collectors and enforcers. To restore human rights, Fautré insisted that these bureaucrats must be prosecuted and punished, and that the sacred land, which was wrongfully confiscated, must be returned to Tai Ji Men.
Tai Ji Men dizi demand that the Taiwanese government implement protection of human rights and freedom, rectify the Tai Ji Men case, return Tai Ji Men’s sacred land, and restore the reputation of Tai Ji Men’s shifu and dizi. Judy Lee, on behalf of worldwide Tai Ji Men dizi, said, “We are going to continue to reach out through the international community to put pressure on the Taiwanese government to correct the mistakes that were made 25 years ago. If it’s not resolved, we will come back!”
Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy: Tai Ji Men is an ancient menpai (similar to school) of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation. It has carried forward the wisdom of Taoist philosophy, one of the highest philosophies of humankind. It is an international nonprofit cultural organization. Its contemporary zhang-men-ren (grandmaster), Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze established the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in 1966, and since then it has grown to 15 academies worldwide.
Dr. Hong teaches his dizi (similar to disciples) methods to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual balance, and tens of thousands of families have benefited from his teaching. At Tai Ji Men, martial arts and wisdom have been passed down from the shifu (master) to his dizi. Through this time-honored tradition, the shifu and dizi promote the Tai Ji Men culture and martial arts around the world while embodying what is true, good, and beautiful as well as spreading the ideas of conscience, love, and peace. Over the past half-century, the shifu and dizi have self-funded trips to over 300 cities in 101 nations to conduct more than 3,000 cultural performances and exchanges and have been recognized as “International Ambassadors of Peace and Goodwill.”
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/