Taiwan should be commended for celebrating every year the rule of law. Now, it should apply it to Tai Ji Men.
by Thierry Valle*
*A paper presented at the webinar “The Tai Ji Men Case and the Rule of Law,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on January 11, 2022, Taiwan’s Judicial Day.
An article already published in Bitter Winter on January 20th, 2022.
Today we celebrate Taiwan’s Judicial Day. The government of Taiwan is to be commended for celebrating this day every year, and for the progress that justice has made in Taiwan.
One of the fundamental principles of justice is that it should be the same for everyone. As soon as justice ceases to be the same for all, it creates second-class citizens, leaves room for arbitrariness, and becomes an open door for totalitarianism.
An enlightened government should be vigilant against all forms of injustice. It should make sure that all the bodies that compose the government are law-abiding and cannot be instrumentalized for private interests or harm minorities.
In Taiwan, the National Taxation Bureau is currently undermining the rule of law and the effectiveness of the judicial system. A rule of law state like Taiwan should not tolerate that for decades a group such as Tai Ji Men remains at the mercy of a state body that deprives them of their rights.
In 2009, Taiwan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This covenant guarantees in its Article 14:
“1. All shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law in the determination of any criminal charge against him or of his civil rights and obligations.”
In their struggle for justice, the Tai Je Men dizi (disciples) have sought the assistance of experts and NGOs such as our organization, CAP-LC (Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience, Coordination of associations and individuals for freedom of conscience).
As a United Nations ECOSOC-accredited NGO, we brought the case of the Tai Ji Men and the injustice they suffer in Taiwan to the attention of the U.N. Human Rights Council, where in June 2021 we denounced the way in which the tax weapon was used and misused to harm Tai Ji Men.
In this statement, we pointed out and denounced the unscrupulous means used by the National Taxation Office in its attempt to destroy the Tai Ji Men movement.
The use of the tax weapon against spiritual minorities is unfortunately a common practice in many countries, including France, which finally, after a struggle to denounce this unjust practice, was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.
In September 2021, at the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, we renewed our appeal for Tai Ji Men. This time, we highlighted the confiscation of the Tai Ji Men’s sacred land intended for a self-cultivation center by the Taiwanese government.
This is another form of discrimination, just as serious as the use of taxes for religious persecution, because a spiritual community cannot exist without a place of worship.
This Taiwan Judicial Day is an opportunity for us to advocate for the rule of law in Taiwan in a constructive way.
Today, the situation of the Tai Ji Men can no longer be ignored in the world, and the Taiwanese government must allow the Tai Ji Men to enjoy their rights, and their places of worship, and to be free to contribute to world peace without concerns.