It is now widely recognized that the right to peace is a basic human right. It has not been guaranteed to Tai Ji Men.

by Sara Susana Pozos Bravo*

*A paper presented at the webinar “Tai Ji Men: Testimonies of Peace and Justice,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on September 21, 2023, United Nations International Day of Peace.

An article already published in Bitter Winter on October 23rd, 2023.

The logo for the International Day of Peace (credits) and the poster for the International Day of Peace 2023 (source: United Nations).
The logo for the International Day of Peace (credits) and the poster for the International Day of Peace 2023 (source: United Nations).

In the framework of the International Day of Peace, I would propose a brief analysis of how the human right to peace is far from being guaranteed to the members of the Tai Ji Men spiritual movement. Their struggle for justice has been going on for twenty-seven years and it is urgent that their demands be addressed by the government.

The idea of peace is the greatest longing of the United Nations. When the United Nations system began to take shape after World War II, three elements were essential to this idea: justice, peace itself, and the proclamation of a series of principles that would be universal for all countries.

From those years to date, the idea of peace has evolved. It is now recognized and considered as a human right that should regulate inter-national relations. Since human beings are the holders of this right, it should also be one of the first rights to be guaranteed to them, because its absence drastically violates all the other human rights.

Peace should not be understood only as the absence of armed conflict. It encompasses the right to be educated in and for peace; the right to conscientious objection, and to freedom of thought, religion, and belief. And here I would add the right not to be persecuted by the state or by the authorities.

Delegates at the founding conference of the United Nations, San Francisco 1945. Source: United Nations.
Delegates at the founding conference of the United Nations, San Francisco 1945. Source: United Nations.

Following this broader concept, it is necessary to pause to analyze whether the human right to peace of the Tai Ji Men movement, persecuted by the State, has been systematically violated.

Since 1996, when the prosecutor decided to accuse Tai Ji Men of tax evasion and fraud, he began the persecution against the movement, against its leaders and against its supporters, systematically and without reason, denying them their right to live a life free of violence. Violence against Tai Ji Men is tantamount to the absence of peace in the broadest sense of the concept.

The weapons, tools, and strategies used by prosecutors in various parts of the world are similar, ranging from twisting the law, pressuring witnesses, buying witnesses, and hiding information or exculpatory evidence. They are so similar to other high-impact cases in the world that it is essential to note these “coincidences” for the analysis—and condemn them in the Tai Ji Men case. These actions of

prosecutors who have found religious minorities guilty of the most heinous crimes, even if they are innocent of any charge or accusation, violate all the fundamental rights of human beings. It is clear that it is easier for prosecutors to blame minorities for acts they have never committed than to prosecute the networks of power and corruption in their countries.

The Tai Ji Men case is a dramatic case of institutional persecution and of state violence against a spiritual movement. In In its twenty-seven years of persecution and injustice, its leaders have demonstrated time and again their innocence. They have won the criminal case but the state itself refuses to solve its tax consequences and to vindicate the name of the movement.

Tai Ji Men protests in Taipei.
Tai Ji Men protests in Taipei.

When the democratic transition began in Taiwan in 1996, religious groups that opposed being used by the political power and resisted the powers that be were persecuted. Among these groups was Tai Ji Men. Then the persecution against them began: their leaders were arrested and imprisoned, and a judicial prosecution was started. Years later, the Tai Ji Men defendants even received national compensation for the earlier unjust imprisonment.

How can we say that the disciples of the movement are guaranteed the right to peace if they continue to be persecuted? How can we aspire to peace if blatantly and constantly states, prosecutors, and government authorities are the first to violate that right? How can we aspire to the ultimate human ideal of living in peace if the Tai Ji Men movement is constantly being harassed?

It is time to demand a political solution that guarantees peace for Tai Ji Men.