By Camelia Marin, Soteria International
The subject - Persecuting spiritual teachers - is in the same time unbelievable to happen nowadays but, unfortunately very real.
I will start by just pointing out The ongoing case of Tai Ji Men and its leader Dr. Hong Tao-Tze is one of such terrible example of persecution.
With no reason and no proves Dr Hong was unjustly kept in a detention center for 159 days by the Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen.
Prosecutor Hou and those who persecuted Tai Ji Men, were politically motivated, but they also wanted to destroy a spiritual community based on moral rules and guided by healthy principles. They did not succeed and Dr. Hong after his release came back to teach his disciples, dizi.
Following his path, Dr Hong continues to successfully teach about conscience, peace, love, and self-cultivation to this very day. However, he and Tai Ji Men continued to be harassed in Taiwan in several ways, particularly through ill-founded tax bills.
I will bring one more example, which shows several similarities - the case of yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA yoga school.
During time, since the communist regime in Romania till nowadays, in persecuting the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru, Romanian authorities skilfully falsified facts, documents, for changing and then “disguising” all political persecutions into common crimes.
See the videorecording of the whole webinar here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mraaTOcg2u4
On 27th August 1982, the National Bureau of the Executive Committee of the National Council emitted order 1253 by which all yoga and martial arts courses and practices were banned in any public place. The risks of being caught were many years in labour camps or imprisonment in very tough conditions. The trespassers were frequently discredited in the mass media and among their co-workers. This tactic was thoroughly documented by the researchers who studied the communist era.
Despite this situation, and not wanting to give in to threat and persecution, yoga teacher Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru continued to clandestinely teach yoga, therefore, facing severe consequences. In his views, helping people to achieve better health and quality of life should not be stopped for political reasons.
On 18th March 2004, the biggest police raid after the Romanian revolution of 1989 was executed against 16 houses whose inhabitants were mostly yoga practitioners. The locations were violently attacked by more than 300 special troops, prosecutors and police officers.
The term “dangerous sect” was deliberately used to describe MISA yoga school. The media, therefore, supported the brutal police intervention, trying to persuade the public opinion that those raided and searched on March 18 were guilty of crimes.
Basically, the mass media was used to turn the population against MISA members and trigger a “witch-hunt”.
The ECHR ruled on 26th April 2016 that the operation on 18th March 2004 violated three articles of the Convention on Human Rights and ordered the Romanian state to pay 291 000 Euros to the 26 victims that complained about the raids. In its final decision, the court stated that “the information provided by the Secret Service to the special police troops indicated that they will be met with heavy armed resistance, usually reserved for drug dealers and organised crime environments. In reality, peaceful yoga practitioners were found at the locations. The violence and disproportionate use of force was a direct result of this misinformation from the state organisations”.
The continuation of the persecution of yoga teacher Mr Bivolaru resulted in him leaving the country and seeking political asylum in Sweden.
After being kept in prison for almost 8 months, in strict isolation, at the request of the Romanian authorities (this fact itself represents a severe form of torture), Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru was granted the status of political refugee in Sweden, based on article 1 of the Geneva Convention of 1951.
In February 2016, France authorities arrested Mr Gregorian Bivolaru in Paris, during a book fest.
His arrest lead to conflictual application of the laws: European Arrest Warrant vs. Geneva Convention, as both were given for the same crime.
Not respecting the article 1 of UN, and the mutual recognition between EU member states, France extradited Mr Bivolaru to Romania in June 2016.
All the above mentioned has resulted in the jailing of Gregorian Bivolaru again for many months.
Another case that can be added is the case of ANANDA community in ITALY and Swami Kriyananda. I will not present now, but the authorities made similar steps in fabricating evidences and arrest warrants.
Some of these odd similarities are:
The methods used for the persecutions in different times and countries have only adapted to the social landscape, but are fundamentally the same:
The main target becomes the person and the group that is different from the mainstream.
Referring again to Tai Ji Men community we can say that the distortion of the reality is the most obvious when we compare the image presented on Tai Ji Men by the National Taxation Bureau and mass media with the profile Tai Ji Men has from the scholars who have investigated it.
However, all the academic studies on Tai Ji Men indicate a completely different image, the difference again underlining the intentional attempt to distort and manipulate the image of Tai Ji Men in the public eye in order to justify the extreme measures that have been taken and which in reality represent a continuation of the persecutions.
How is it possible that the academic approaches contrast so much to the image imposed by the media? Are the authorities not supposed to be the best informed about their citizens and to respect their rights, to apply the Court decision?
We kindly address to Taiwanese authorities to do their mandate and to apply and protect their citizens in the case of Tai Ji Men spiritual community.