While we seek truth for Tai Ji Men, we exercise our own religious liberty. No one on earth is excluded from the Tai Ji Men case.
by Marco Respinti*
*A paper presented as the conclusion of the webinar “Seeking the Truth About the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on March 24, 2022, United Nations International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of the Victims.
The Tai Ji Men case is a serious case. Scholars, activists, journalists, and testimonials have been involved in a long series of webinars, whose aim is to inform the general public on a situation that unfortunately remains little known, and to contribute to rectify many misdeeds, addressing the Taiwanese government directly.
Today’s webinar is the latest in this important series, and it is especially relevant. Its title, simple and direct, summing the whole case up, demonstrates it well: “Seeking the Truth About the Tai Ji Men Case.” Basically, there is nothing to add to what the title already states. We are all seeking the truth about the Tai Ji Men case. Tai Ji Men itself is seeking the truth about a case that has ruined so many lives of its dizi.
I am particularly honored to be personally involved in these webinars as the Director-in-Charge of Bitter Winter. Bitter Winter denounces violations of religious liberty worldwide, and has taken the Tai Ji Men case to its heart. Bitter Winter exists to promote freedom and justice for persecuted religious groups. But there is a special reason why Bitter Winter is so active on the Tai Ji Men case.
We said it repeatedly, during past webinars. Yet it is so important that I want to repeat it again today. The Tai Ji Men case is a case that shakes all souls. The Tai Ji Men case does not concern just one spiritual group in Taiwan. This case begins in Taiwan. It begins with Tai Ji Men. But it grew, and steadily grows every day so that it concerns everybody. The Tai Ji Men case in fact is:
a. a case of justice denied as well as a case of justice delayed, which are almost the same thing.
b. a case of staggering religious freedom violation.
c. a case of blatant human rights abuse.
Let me briefly consider these three points.
The first point, justice, is quite simple. The accusations against Tai Ji Men have been declared as false by many courts of law. There is nothing illegal among Tai Ji Men. There is no tax evasion. There is no fraud. There is nothing. Officials in the Taiwanese justice departments knows it. Officials in the Taiwanese tax departments knows it. Officials in the Taiwanese government knows it. Nonetheless, the consequences of these false accusations do persist, and the Tai Ji Men movement, its shifu and dizi suffer a sentence without having committed any crime.
For all those Taiwanese officials that keep on persecuting Tai Ji Men, well, Tai Ji Men is simply guilty of… innocence. After the acquittals by courts of law, Tai Mi Men has not been left alone to live in peace. The persecution continues. And Tai Ji Men has been persecuted, with no rest, for twenty-five years, a quarter of a century. It is a case of justice denied, combined with a case of that specific form of justice denied that is justice delayed. No democracy, no civilization can bear such a gross and grave injustice for twenty-five years.
My second point is the violation of religious freedom in the case of Tai Ji Men, and my third point is the human rights abuses against Tai Ji Men shifu and dizi. I regard them as intimately linked. Even more than intimately. The first is a specific case of the latter: that is to say, the violation of religious liberty is the most important human rights abuse.
In fact, human rights are not what international meetings, political majorities, and government commissions decide they are. These decisions come and go. What is bestowed today can be turned down tomorrow. These are not rights: these are concessions.
Real human rights can only be un-deniable, un-alienable, un-touchable. They must be inherent to the human being. They must proceed from human nature. For the very reason of being a human being, distinguishable from any other living being and non-living object, a human being is entitled to certain intangible and sacrosanct and even “taboo” rights. No fellow human being, no group, no organization, no political or economic force, no state and no church can curtail and challenge, repudiate, or veto these human rights.
Chief and first among the rights that human beings are entitled to by their very nature is religious freedom. All human beings have the right to know the truth. The nature of truth focused upon by religions, faiths, creeds, and beliefs is supreme. In recognizing the existence of God, a highest Being, or a spiritual entity, or even in denying it, resides the ultimate and total sense of one’s life. For this reason, religious freedom is the first human liberty, and the right to its exercise is the fundamental human right, from which all subsequent rights (of expression, association, education, property, etc.) derive.
But if it is so foundational for all human activity, since it is centered on the most seminal question of all, then religious liberty has serious consequences. Believing or not believing in God, following or not following a spiritual way, has a tremendous impact on human behavior. It essentially influences the way in which we live, associate with others, animate society, shape education, politics, economics, in one word all human activities.
In fact, religious liberty is not only the freedom to worship but also to live according to our beliefs. Religious freedom is not only a private business: it is a public right, a political liberty. Thus, as religious freedom is the first human liberty, the right to religious liberty is the first political human right.
Religious liberty is not relativism. Religions are not all the same. In fact, relativism is the negation of authentic religious liberty. If we cannot choose, since we do not acknowledge differences among which we can choose, we do not enjoy real liberty.
There is, however, an important element of equality in religious liberty. It is the genuine religious sentiment of all believers, no matter how they call God, a highest Being, or a spiritual entity.
Personally, I (and many others) believe that religious liberty is the freedom of human beings to seek truth. And this directly connects us to our topic today, in the United Nations International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of the Victims, the topic of our title, “Seeking the Truth About the Tai Ji Men Case.”
“Seeking the Truth About the Tai Ji Men Case” means speaking the same language of religious liberty, which is the freedom of human beings to seek the truth. In this way, while we seek truth for Tai Ji Men, we exercise our religious liberty. Indeed, seeking the truth about the Tai Ji Men case is an expression of religious liberty in itself.
If in fact we establish the truth on the Tai Ji Men case, and respect it, we do honor religious liberty at its best. And since, as I mentioned earlier, religious freedom is the first human liberty, and the right to religious liberty is the first political human right, then seeking the truth about the Tai Ji Men case means defending human rights for every human being, for humanity, and for a humane civilization.
Truly, no one on earth is excluded from the Tai Ji Men case.