Tai Ji Men was among the victims of the 1996 crackdown on those religious movements that were accused of not having supported the ruling party in the presidential elections, the last act of Taiwan’s post-authoritarian repression of independent spiritual groups.
While the Supreme Court eventually declared the Tai Ji Men defendants innocent of all charges, including tax evasion, the National Taxation Bureau continued to issue ill-founded tax bills that contradicted the Supreme Court’s verdict. In 2020, based on one of these bills, sacred land of Tai Ji Men intended for a self-cultivation center was auctioned off and confiscated.Taiwan’s authorities claim that the confiscation is based on a final verdict, which cannot be revised. It is, however, a general principle of law, fairness, and human rights that patently unjust verdicts can always be re-examined, particularly when new facts and evidence have emerged, as it has happened in the Tai Ji Men case.
It is now time for leaving aside technicalities and finding a political solution, while protests by Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) continue in Taiwan and the United States, with thousands taking to the streets.
We join Tai Ji Men in respectfully asking the government of Taiwan, whose commitment to democracy in a region plagued by non-democratic regimes we appreciate and applaud, to return through a political act the confiscated sacred land to Tai Ji Men and publicly confirm that, as Taiwan’s Supreme Court stated, they never violated the law nor evaded taxes.
It would be a small step for Taiwan’s government, but a crucial one to tell the world Taiwan is truly committed to freedom of religion or belief and to the protection of religious and spiritual minorities that were once persecuted by its authoritarian and post-authoritarian regimes.
July 13, 2022
15th anniversary of the Taiwan Supreme Court decision declaring Tai Ji Men defendants innocent of all charges, including tax evasion
Massimo Introvigne, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), editor-in-chief, Bitter Winter magazine, Torino, Italy
Alessandro Amicarelli, President, European Federation for Freedom of Belief, London, U.K.
Raffaella Di Marzio, Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience (LIREC), Rome, Italy
Patricia Duval, human rights attorney, Paris, France
Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Paris, France
Holly Folk, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, U.S.A.
Karolina Maria Hess, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Camelia Marin, Soteria International, Copenhagen, Denmark
Hans Noot, Gerard Noodt Foundation, Heesch, The Netherlands
Marco Respinti, Director-in-Charge, Bitter Winter magazine, Torino, Italy
Rosita Šorytė, European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FORB)
Thierry Valle, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Concience, Brussels, Belgium
Donald Westbrook, San José State University, U.S.A.
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Calling for a Solution of the Tai Ji Men CaseRead the Petition