16 May - International Day of Living Together in Peace

Webinar - Will Tai Ji Men Finally Be Allowed to Live in Peace?

On 16 May 2023, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized a webinar about the Tai Ji Men case, under the title “Will Tai Ji Men Finally Be Allowed to Live Together in Peace?”

Soteria International, represented by Camelia Marin, contributed by expressing the concern about the Tai Ji Men case and the endless bureaucracy that is affecting the spiritual community:

United Nations Declaration refferes to International Day of Living Together in Peace as "Working together with religious leaders to promote tolerance and understanding among human beings"

For a spiritual community to live in peace means that all its environment, social and political.

The community is created by individuals. Many factors are influential in the formation of the individual personality. Families and media, as well as cultural and religious communities themselves, should support the development of open-minded individuals, capable of critical thinking and of constructive dialogue with others.

Education is combating ignorance, breaking down stereotypes, building trust and mutual respect and promoting sincere support for the shared values of living together.

For this, institutions of the states develop projects in collaboration with religious communities to promote shared values and “living together”.

In Taiwan, we can see among others, the example of Tai Ji Men spiritual community and their participation to national and international events, calling for Love, Peace, Conscience, helping people unite in the hearts and encouraging the search for their inner peace and harmony.

Still, we can notice situations when national or international institutions obscure the responsibilities of government for upholding human rights, and create obstacles to calling human rights-violating states to account.

Again, as example we can see the situation of Tai Ji Men community which face a non-application of the aquital decission of the Court in Taiwan, as the National Taxation Bureau takes its biased decission beyond the Court’s one.

The human rights activist and writer, Aaron Rhodes, President of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe, and former Executive Director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights refers in one of his article to the multilateral cooperation which can be applyed to the national level also:

„States that honor human rights need to resist the bureaucratization of human rights, which buries issues in discussions about structures, processes, and “coordination” in sterile and exhausted language. And they must ensure that their own human rights advocacy is not smothered by bureaucratic multilateral cooperation that balances out their concerns against those of partners that wish to ignore human rights violations and water down standards.”

The violation to freedom of conscience expressed in civil society through government restrictions or through popular hostility against freedom of religion or belief are a significant factor of tensions and conflicts.

Quoting Dr Hong, the leader of Tai Ji Men spiritual community, “Governments should take a stance for human rights protection and encourage the development of multiculturalism and they should not use laws or taxation to curb people’s freedom to pursue culture. Only freedom and human rights will allow a culture to develop and flourish”

In the case of Tai Ji Men, their human rights and freedoms were violated by state representatives.

After years of investigation and court trials, on July 13, 2007, the Supreme Court found Tai Ji Men not guilty of fraud, tax evasion or violation of tax codes. Yet the Taxation Bureau continued to issue unjustified tax bills to Tai Ji Men and later even transferred the case to the Administrative Enforcement Agency. For years Tai Ji Men’s land and assets have been illegally seized and auctioned.

I consider the webinar today an important point of  human rights activity to hinder the spiritual and religious aspect of life to be hijacked by political and financial motifs.

Human rights and especially Spiritual human rights are a building block for the maintenance of peace.  We are spiritual beings, whether we acknowledge it or not.