In the Tai Ji Men case, we celebrate those who suffered injustice. But where there are heroes, there are also villains.

by Marco Respinti

An article already published in Bitter Winter on January 13th, 2024.

Roadside electoral propaganda for the 2024 elections in Taiwan. Credits.
Roadside electoral propaganda for the 2024 elections in Taiwan. Credits.

The English language has a beautiful expression, which is also full of meaning. It is “unsung heroes.” It is used when we wish to commemorate and celebrate people who have been at the center of an event, maybe even the real main actors, but who, for some reasons, have been overlooked and forgotten. It is a way to render justice to people who deserve it.

The Tai Ji Men case is a shame of our times. A pacific, law-abiding, and patriotic private group of citizens of one of the most advanced and democratic countries of the world has been wretched for more than a quarter of a century due to false accusations, which all levels of justice of that country have repeatedly proven to be simply non-existent. That country is one I happened to visit a few times and that I have learned to appreciate and love; it is the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan.

The Tai Ji Men case is a shame because no one deserves such a treatment when he or she has been proven innocent. Now, the “Tai Ji Men case” can be also described as a “unsung shame” of our times: of course, in this case, not because we wish to celebrate an ill-treatment, but because the world seems to be content to live with such a blatant shame and still leave it unsolved. Moreover, Tai Ji Men Shifu and dizi are the “unsung heroes” of a totally pacific resistance to tyranny, which can also come hidden under democratic clothes, and of religious liberty. The Tai Ji Men case involves in fact religious liberty. The persecutors of Tai Ji Men tried to mask it under the guise of a tax evasion case, but all levels of Taiwanese justice proved that to  be a gross falsification. It is chiefly, eminently, and simply a case of blatant violation of the right of innocent citizens to live in peace following their spiritual way.

Political elections are now rapidly approaching in Taiwan. Elections are a high moment of the modern-day concept of democracy. Elections are the moment when people freely choose how they want to be governed, how they want laws to me made to render justice to their society, how they want the common good to be properly addressed.

Elections are the time when rulers are judged for how they have governed and consequently confirmed or dismissed.

Of course, elections are not a magical moment. Even in elections the good and evil that are always combined in human beings reveal themselves. Democracy itself cannot count only on elections, as a magical moment, if there are no standards before and above elections. In fact, democracy is not in itself the panacea for every disease in human society. It must always work on the presumption of moral standards, if we are to avoid the awful tyranny of opinions that is the contrary of the real common good of a society.

Propaganda for a candidate to the 2024 legislative elections on a bus in Taiwan. Credits.
Propaganda for a candidate to the 2024 legislative elections on a bus in Taiwan. Credits.

Personally, I don’t believe either in the somewhat common rhetoric that all rulers, all parties and all ideologies are the same. If they were, it would simply be useless to vote. Instead, in modern-day democracy voting can really be a mean to improvement.

Common rhetoric says that ideologies are dead, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. They are not. Ideologies are still there: they operate, for good or for bad, they govern, they propose different model of societies. Like democracy, ideologies must be judged on moral standards: it will thus become immediately clear that ideologies are not all the same.

Some party will win the next Taiwanese elections, meaning that some other party will lose them. As a foreigner and an external observer, I wish Taiwan that the best will win the elections. I always hope and pray for this in every country of the world, when elections are in sight and at stake. In fact, if one suffers, all suffer; if one country of the world lives in injustice, we all live sadly.

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

Anyway, whoever will win the Taiwanese elections—and I do hope it will be the best for the sake of Taiwan—that party, now the ruler, will have to face directly that “unsung shame” of modern times called the “Tai Ji Men case.” The new ruler should immediately render justice to Tai Ji Men Shifu and dizi, the “unsung heores” and the “unsung victims” of a dirty situation that the world cannot stand anymore. The party which will win the next elections in Taiwan must put this shameful case to and end as the first thing it does.

If the winning party, then in power, delays decision, it will be a bad sign for Taiwan’s future.

If the winning party, then in power, will not solve the case once and for all, it will prove that it was not the best party that won the elections.