The reasons why the Tai Ji Men case was started on December 19, 1996, and continued for 26 years, are hard to understand rationally. But we all understand a solution is needed now.
by Karolina Maria Hess*
*A paper presented at the seminar “Global Solidarity with Tai Ji Men: 26th Anniversary of the Raid Which Began the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized on December 19, 2022, on the eve of International Human Solidarity Day, in Pasadena, California, by CESNUR, Human Rights Without Frontiers, the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, the Association of World Citizens, Action Alliance to Redress 1219, the website TaiJiMenCase.org, and FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe).
In today’s world, the level of awareness regarding the diversity of religions and spiritual paths is probably at an all-time high. There is also a growing awareness and responsibility related to the right to think and act in accordance with one’s conscience, which is one of the basic human rights. On the other hand, we are all aware that respecting those rights differs around the world. There are cases where, based on many different reasons, they are violated. Some of these reasons are ideological or strictly political. But some are just bureaucratic and even hard to explain rationally, as it happened in the Tai Ji Men case.
December 19, 1996, was the most painful day in Tai Ji Men’s history. Almost a decade after the Martial Law ended in Taiwan, and it was supposed that respect for religious liberty, at least theoretically, had finally prevailed, a violent turn of events took place. During the events of that day, in which hundreds of armed policemen were involved, twelve Tai Ji Men Qigong academies were raided together with private homes of dizi (disciples).
What really happened was that a peaceful spiritual movement was persecuted for politically inspired reasons and based on unjustified suspicions. This obvious abuse of state power, combined with fake news spread in media, made a terrible impact on the current and future situation of Tai Ji Men and its members from that day on. During the raids, members were taken into custody, including Tai Ji Men’s Shifu (Grand Master), Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, who spent 116 days in detention. But what is more, it was just a beginning of an unexpectedly long story. And when the situation should have radically changed, that is after Taiwan’s Supreme Court had confirmed that Dr. Hong and his co-defendants were innocent of all charges, including tax evasion, it turned out that the case was still not over. In fact, it continued to the point of the auction and seizure of Tai Ji Men’s land in 2020.
Today marks 26 years from the beginning of those events. For more than two decades, Tai Ji Men members have been waiting for justice.
Let’s hope that the growing level of awareness of human rights I mentioned, which includes the right to live in accordance with one’s conscience, will finally also include the Taiwanese authorities, and cause the Tai Ji Men case to be finally resolved with justice.