On December 10 we celebrate the Human Rights Day. Such a celebration always is a source of hope and optimism in solving different issues regarding the human rights, raising the humanitarianism and morality in the world.
This year, 2021, Soteria International, was invited to participate to a webinar – “Human Rights and Anti-Corruption: The Tai Ji Men Case”, organized by International Forum for Human Rights, in the celebration of the human rights day and also to raise awareness and celebrate December 9th – the Anti-corruption Day.
Soteria International was represented by the Deputy Director, Camelia Marin. Here is her presentation:
“Today, rule of law is challenged not only from arbitrary application of the law within certain states, but increasingly by how the tools regulating the interaction between different national judicial systems lacks a precision to hinder abuses and misinterpretations. Thus, the very tools for securing the rule of law open a risk for its corruption.
"During a cold night, a man whose last name starts with the letter K. arrives in a Central European village dominated by a mysterious Castle. He claims to be the new land surveyor, invited there by the Castle.
So starts one of the most famous novels of European literature, “The Castle,” that German-speaking Czech novelist Franz Kafka started writing in 1922 and left at his death in 1924 in the unfinished form in which it was published in 1926.
The novel continues with K. meeting the mayor, who informs it that his appointment as the local land surveyor was due to what initially he calls a mistake. But then the mayor corrects himself, explaining to K. that “One of the principles that governs the work of the administration is that the possibility of a mistake must never be contemplated. […] Mistakes are not made, and even if this happened by exception, as in your case, who could say in the end that it was really a mistake?” Besides, K. is told, the question is not whether a bureaucratic decision is reasonable or stupid. If it is properly stamped, it should be obeyed.
By Alessandro Amicarelli
On November 15, 2021, on the eve of the International Day for Tolerance, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized one of the bi-monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case, with the title “Witnessing for Tolerance: Scholars, NGOs, and the Tai Ji Men Case.”
Camelia Marin, Deputy Director of Soteria International, introduced the webinar, noting that intolerance is prevailing in several countries, and spread by the media, against certain new religious and spiritual movements, and is present even where many would not expect it, including in Taiwan, as the Tai Ji Men case, of which she offered a short summary, proves. She also introduced a video where specific, and in some cases tragic, victim cases evidenced the prevalence of tax injustice and the use of taxes as a tool for intolerance in Taiwan.
The full video of the webinar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=sWoW-YEZFbI&feature=emb_logo
Two events organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers to celebrate the 2021 International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. With Camelia Marin – Massimo Introvigne – Willy Fautré – René Wadlow – Christine Mirre – Rosita Šorytė – Alessandro Amicarelli – Hans Noot – Thierry Valle – Eric Roux – Kenneth A. Jacobsen – Konrad Swenninger, and witnesses from Tai Ji Men.
August 22, 2021 – Two webinars (no registration needed)
10 a.m.-12 noon Brussels time: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84836642427
7-9 p.m. Brussels time: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88145723947
By Luigi Berzano (University of Torino, Italy), Boris Falikov (Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia), Willy Fautré (Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium), Liudmyla Filipovich (Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University, Lutsk, Ukraine), Massimo Introvigne (Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy), and Bernadette Rigal-Cellard (University Bordeaux-Montaigne, Bordeaux, France)
In 2020, the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), a bipartisan commission of the U.S. federal government, identified the anti-cult ideology as a major threat to international religious liberty (USCIRF 2020).
The anti-cult ideology, or anti-cultism, is based on the idea that “religions” and “cults” are different. “Cults,” it claims, are not religions, although they may falsely claim to be religious. While religions are joined freely, “victims” join “cults” because of the latter’s coercive practices.
International terminology needs a preliminary clarification. The derogatory English word “cult” should not be translated with “culte” in French, and similar words in other languages. As scholars of religion have noticed from decades, the French word having the same derogatory meaning of the English “cult” is “secte,” rather than “culte.” “Cult” should be translated with “secte” in French, and in turn “secte” should be translated with “cult”—not with “sect,” which does not have the same negative meaning (for example, the different mainline Buddhist schools are often referred to in English as “Buddhist sects,” with no negative judgment implied).
Saturday, 31st July, starting 4 pm will take place the webinar disscusing about friendships around Tai Ji Men case, an event organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers to celebrate the 2021 International Day of Friendship (July 30). With Willy Fautré – Konrad Swenninger – Daniela Bovolenta – Massimo Introvigne – Hans Noot – Camelia Marin, and witnesses from Tai Ji Men.
July 31, 2021 – 4 p.m. Brussels Time
Zoom (no registration needed): https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85112759031"
" Tai Ji Men is a spiritual group with various chapters in Taiwan and the U.S. It has self-funded trips to 101 nations to promote love, peace, and conscience. A video presentation show that Tai Ji Men has been highly praised by President Tsai Ing-wen, three former presidents of Taiwan, and other leaders in Taiwan and around the world for its peace endeavors.
However, such an avid promoter of love and peace has been persecuted for 24 years by a few unscrupulous bureaucrats in Taiwan.
An event organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers after the 2021 World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. With Camelia Marin - Daniela Bovolenta - Massimo Introvigne - Willy Fautre - Alessandro Amicarelli - Marco Respinti, and witnesses from Tai Ji Men.
Scheduled for May 24, 2021 at 4 pm
On 29th January, LIREC's webinar will present and discuss the recent annual USCIRF report, by the Policy Analyst Jason Morton, on the violations of religious freedom worldwide.
The report has confirmed the concerns of LIREC, and other NGOs, for the persecution against religious minorities as Jehovah’s Witnesses, in Russia and elsewhere, carried out by some controversial anti-cult organizations.
This is a problem that LIREC formerly brought to the attention of OSCE/ODIHR in 2013, when Italy was the object of recommendations due, precisely, to these associations’ legal and media-related activism.
On the one hand, the USCIRF Report will hopefully allow for a greater international engagement in support of human rights in those areas; on the other hand, however, some anti-cult organizations like FECRIS (European Federation of Centres for Research and Information on Sectarianism), whose methods and purposes have been censured by the US commission, keep on carrying out its activities undisturbed in Europe.
JANUARY 29, 2021 - 3 p.m. Rome Time
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy and HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers, Brussels, Belgium, 2020
Authors: Massimo Introvigne, Willy Fautré, Rosita Šorytė, Alessandro Amicarelli and Marco Respinti
A WHITE PAPER
This White Paper is about a tax case in Taiwan, which has important international implications. It is an egregious example of how tax laws are used, or rather misused, against spiritual groups some politicians or governmental bureaucrats do not approve of, for whatever reason.
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions, Torino, Italy
and HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers organize on the Human Rights Day the webinar about the Tai Ji Men Tax Case in Taiwan.
Massimo Introvigne, Willy Fautré, Rosita Šorytė, Alessandro Amicarelli, Marco Respinti and Camelia Marin will present and discusse about the respect of human rights on the mentioned case.
You are invited to join, no registration needed:
Meeting ID: 841 4547 5018
H.E. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen
President of the Republic of China
Office of the President
No. 122 Sec.1. Chongqing S. Rd.
Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
10048 Taiwan, ROC
Hon. Premier Su Tseng-chang
No. 1, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist.,
Taipei City 100009, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Honorable Chen Chu
President, Control Yuan
No. 2, Sec. 1, Zhongxiao E. Rd.
Taipei City, 100216, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
September 16, 2020
Dear President Tsai:
Dear Premier Su:
Dear President Chen:
On July 24, we wrote to President Tsai, expressing our concern for the case of Tai Ji Men. In short, Tai Ji Men is a Taiwan-based spiritual school teaching qigong, with roots in esoteric Taoism, and with a global outreach through its cultural activities. In 1996, Tai Ji Men was among the victims of an ill-fated crackdown on new religious movements, which was started in Taiwan largely for political reasons. The indicted Tai Ji Men leader, Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, the founder and master of the spiritual school, and members were later fully exonerated from all criminal charges.
by Massimo Introvigne
On July 17, 2020, the USCIRF, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, unveiled a new document, whose title is “The Anti-cult Movement and Religious Regulation in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.” The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its Commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties.
The title may indicate that the document does not concern China, and in fact its main focus is Russia. However, there are three important connections between the new USCIRF report and China.
H.E. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen
President of the Republic of China Office of the President
No. 122 Sec.1. Chongqing S. Rd. Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 10048 Taiwan, ROC
July 24, 2020
Dear President Tsai:
We represent NGOs specialized in freedom of religion and belief, and academic research centers in the field of religion and spirituality.
We are impressed by the work done in Taiwan to protect religious liberty both at home and abroad, and some of us heard your inspiring opening remarks at the event “A Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region,” co- sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Department of State in Taipei in 2019.
We take the liberty of writing to you concerning a tax case involving a spiritual school known as Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, founded in Taiwan by Dr. Hong Tao-Tze in 1966. Some of us have studied Tai Ji Men and are also familiar with Dr. Hong’s activities on behalf of world peace and inter-cultural dialogue, which have won praise by several international governments.
Dear Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha:
We represent NGOs and academic research centers specialized in the defense of freedom of religion and belief. We write to you as we are aware of your distinguished career at the United Nations, and appreciate your attention to human rights.
We have followed with great concern the problems in South Korea of a new religious movement known as Shincheonji. Some of us have studied Shincheonji for years, and some have produced academic studies about it. We are aware that Shincheonji is regarded by conservative Christians as “heretic,” and that they resent its success, which happened mostly at their expenses, and its active proselytization methods.
A webinar organized by the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)
Date/Time: Monday, July 20, 2020, 17:00 (UTC +2, Brussels time)
The fact that one member of Shincheonji, a Christian new religious movement in South Korea, was not timely diagnosed with COVID-19, attended church services, and set in motion a chain of events where thousands of her church’s members were infected, led to the government’s requests for lists of all members of the group and massive testing.
While it is possible that mistakes were made by Shincheonji, health and police authorities acknowledged that the movement submitted substantially accurate lists of its members, and tried to cooperate as it could. Shincheonji, however, is at the receiving end of an aggressive hostility by conservative Christians, who have tried for decades to have the movement, which has been very successful in converting Protestants, banned in South Korea.
At the 4th Conference of the Baltic Alliance of Asian Studies was devoted a session to Shincheonji.
In view of the interest, you can find the video recording following the link of CESNUR website:
H.E. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights
H.E. Ambassador Sam Brownback, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Dear President Bachelet:
Dear Ambassador Brownback:
We represent international NGOs specialized in the defense of religious liberty. We are deeply concerned with a growing number of instances of intolerance and discrimination against Shincheonji, a South Korean new religious movement, after a number of its members were diagnosed with COVID-19.
Shincheonji is a South Korean Christian new religious movement, founded by a Korean preacher called Lee Man Hee. Chairman Lee, as its members call him, is not regarded as God nor as the second coming of Jesus, but as the promised pastor who will lead humanity into the kingdom of peace that many Christians call the Millennium. Shincheonji has experienced a rapid growth in the last decades, and now has more than 200,000 members.
Arch-conservative and fundamentalist Protestantism, marginal in other countries, is the largest segment of Protestant Christianity in South Korea and a powerful voting bloc. It has promoted virulent campaigns against minorities it has labeled as “cults,” as well as against Roman Catholics, homosexuals, and Muslim immigrants and refugees. Shincheonji has been particularly targeted, for the good reason that its growth has largely happened by converting members of conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches.
Soteria International hosted on 11 December 2019 a new conference on the series “Spiritual Human Rights”, with the topic: “Base and Debasement of Human Rights - Rights, Obligations and Society”.
The conference brought together important keynote speakers, experts in the human rights field, sociologists and politicians:
After important contributions presented by the speakers, the debate went smoothly towards the fundament of human rights and their integration in institutional and social system.
Invitation for scientific researchers, activists and practitioners within the trans-disciplinary field of human rights and spirituality!
11 December 2019, between 10.00 - 13.00 - webinar or our venue in Copenhagen.
For the twelves consecutive year Soteria International welcomes participants to a visionary conference on the emerging field of Spiritual Human Rights.
This year’s event presents key note presentations and Q&A sessions addressing the Base and Debasement of Human Rights - Rights, Obligations and Society.
The right to a good healthcare or education and freedom of though, conscience and belief are all important rights in our society, but not in the same way. The first should be secured politically, the other fundamentally as unalienable human right.
Are our human rights currently debased by a strong influx of social and economic rights into the discussions on human rights? If health, education and gender issues are to be secured by court and not by politics, do we not risk a more totalitarian perspective on governance and simultaneously a debasement of the fundamental natural rights?
When making social and financial issues human rights, do we risk that the lives of many are disproportionately restricted by the few. We are given universal human rights, but what about universal human obligations?
Since being established, the 'FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU' has been known for an unparalleled commitment to advocate for Freedom or Religion or Belief issues, for people and communities of ALL faiths or not.
The FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU is an informal group of individuals from civil society who gather regularly to discuss FoRB issues on a non-attribution basis. It is simply a safe space where participants gather, speak freely in sharing ideas and information, and propose joint advocacy actions to address specific FoRB issues and problems globally. It's part of an informal international network of such roundtables (see A Model for Sustainable Peace and Prosperity for more info). While being part of this network, the FoRB Roundtable Brussels-EU is completely independent in its governance.
Participants are free to propose initiatives regarding the protection and promotion of freedom of religion, conscience, and belief in Europe and around the world, and other participants have then the possibility to join these initiatives and self-select into coalitions of the willing on such initiatives.