On January 6, international scholars visited yet another testimony of the injustice of the Tai Ji Men case.
by Massimo Introvigne
An article already published in Bitter Winter on January 28th, 2024.
All scholars who have studied the Tai Ji Men case know the story of the Swiss Mountain Villa, a beautiful property intended for a spiritual center that was half-destroyed by the maneuvers and carelessness of rogue tax bureaucrats as a consequence of the Tai Ji Men case. But few know a parallel case in Southern Taiwan, the sad story of the Lainan Street Academy in Kaohsiung.
On January 6, 2024, Eileen Barker, O.B.E., professor emerita of Sociology at the London School of Economics and the founder of the modern academic subfield of new religious movement studies, Rosita Šorytė, a former diplomat and member of the Scientific Committee of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB), and the undersigned visited the location where the Lainan Street Academy used to operate.
After Taipei, Kaohsiung was one of the first cities where Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, the Shifu (Grand Master) of Tai Ji Men, went to gather dizi (disciples) and teach qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation, establishing an academy there in 1987. There was no high-speed train then and he flew from Taipei every week. In 1988, the academy moved to Lainan Street, in the busy Kuchan shopping district of Kaohsiung. It was a happy and successful place. Dr. Hong, the dizi report, gave the example of how academies should be well kept by personally helping in cleaning the rooms and even the toilets.
As the number of dizi in Kaohsiung grew, a new large academy was opened in 1993 in the Sanmin District, which we also visited. Tai Ji Men considered that keeping the academy in Lainan Street was no longer needed and decided to sell it. However, on December 19, 1996, the Tai Ji Men case started with the raids organized by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen. A restrictive injunction also affected the Lainan Street academy, which could not be sold. This injunction remained in force for more than eighteen years. Only in 2020 was the academy finally returned to the disposal of Tai Ji Men dizi, but in the meantime it had been invaded by homeless people who had stolen all the equipment and furniture and even dismantled the windows.
Tai Ji Men has decided to keep the Lainan Street academy as it found it in 2020, as a testament to the injustice vested on the movement. A small monument with a symbolic sword has been placed there remembering the injustice, a smaller version of the one inaugurated on December 19, 2023, in the Swiss Mountain Villa.
The story of Lainan Street Academy was told in a video and in the testimonies of Chen Rong-Fang, a veteran dizi who personally lived the early days of the Tai Ji Men case, and Andy Lu, a dizi who works as a medical doctor. Shi Xue-Xiang, a housewife, also shared a text on the discriminations Kaohsiung Tai Ji Men had to suffer after the 1996 raids.
Chen joined Tai Ji Men in 1990 and described the Lainan Street academy as a place full of happiness and joy. He also reported the pain of seeing the academy dilapidated and denounced the injustice of the fabricated Tai Ji Men case, which was also documented in another video.
Lu was a child when the Tai Ji Men case started but was told about the Lainan Street events by fellow dizi. He also had a personal experience when two years ago he came to the location to shoot a film and was surprised to see that even the windows had disappeared. These were powerful accounts of the injustice of the Tai Ji Men case, which deeply moved the audience.
Huang Kun-Kuang, a former senior auditor at the Kaohsiung Taxation Bureau, commented on the uniqueness of the Tai Ji Men case and the numerous violations of law committed during its development. He said that in several decades as a tax auditor he had never seen a similar case and that, before dying, he wants to testify and publicly denounce its injustice.
The scholars reacted to the presentations commenting that the deep injustice of the Tai Ji Men case has been established beyond any possible doubt and in fact new elements proving the maliciousness of the harassment and persecution of both Shifu and dizi are continuously discovered. The question is how exactly the case can be rectified. Dr. Hong and several dizi answered the questions, expressing the hope that the new administration emerging from the January 2024 elections will be the one that will finally solve the Tai Ji Men case.