Articles

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DIALOGUE, DIVERSITY, AND FREEDOM: REACTING TO THE TAI JI MEN CASE

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjhe2YoOfaM&ab_channel=ActionAlliancetoRedress1219

Scheduled for May 24, 2021 at 4 pm

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LIREC webinar: Freedom of Religion

From the USCIRF Report on Persecutions in Russia to Violations in Europe

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.


https://lirec.net/events/2021/1/6/pcqayd8eifc64dj0usvlr21dz6lt64-lhahj

JANUARY 29, 2021 - 3 p.m. Rome Time

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Justice Denied: the Tai Ji Men case in Taiwan

A white paper

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.

https://www.cesnur.org/2020/tai-ji-men-case-in-taiwan.htm

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The Tai Ji Men Tax Case in Taiwan

Webinar 10 December 2020

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:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84145475018

Meeting ID: 841 4547 5018

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The Tai Ji Men Tax Case in Taiwan

Letter of concern

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

Executive Yuan

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.

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USCIRF Exposes European “Experts” Who Support CCP Campaigns Against “Cults”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom publishes a document against Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin and his organization FECRIS, both supporters of religious persecution in China.

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.

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Letter addressed to H.E. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen President of the Republic of China

Tai Ji Men case

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
Phone 886.2.23206410

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.

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A Letter to the Foreign Minister of South Korea on the Situation of Shincheonji

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.

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COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea

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.

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Shincheonji, a South Korean New Religious Movement: Expansion, Social Activism, and Coronavirus Controversies

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:

https://www.cesnur.org/2020/shincheonji-baas-conference.htm?fbclid=IwAR3-EKbfUnqfmP6uQIxaBTCGBD7Id_pmjaQEMXmAttp_c6qFlGNyJCoCzlA

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CESNUR: Coronavirus and Shincheonji: Stopping the Witch Hunt

Coronavirus and Shincheonji: Stopping the Witch Hunt

To:
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.

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Synthesis - Spiritual Human Rights Conference - December 2019

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:

  • Prof Massimo Introvigne - Editor-in-Chief - Bitter Winter, Director - CESNUR
  • Jens Peter Bonde, Former Danish MEP
  • Anette Refstrup - Church of Scientology, DENMARK
  • Prof Aaron Rhodes, President FOREF
  • Ivan Arjona - European Office of the Church of Scientology
  • Advaitananda Stoian – ATMAN Federation
  • Konrad Swenninger – Soteria International
  • Bashy Quraishy – ENAR, EMISCO
  • Calistrat Atudorei PHD
  • Prof Alesandro Amicarelli – Director FOB
  • Camelia Marin and Konrad Swenninger from Soteria International.

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.

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Spiritual Human Rights conference 2019 on 11 December 2019

The Base and Debasement of Human Rights - Rights, Obligations and Society

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?

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Freedom of Religion or Belief Roundtable Brussels-EU

10 December 2019 - Human Rights Day

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.

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Fourth meeting of the Danish Contact Forum for Religious and Religious Freedom on October 8, 2019

Freedom of Befief - Copenhagen

In Copenhagen this autumn, was held The meeting of the Government's Contact Forum for Religious and Religious Freedom on 8 October 2019, in the Common Hall of Parliament.

Soteria International’s representative attended the event and consider the event a step forward in the collaboration between the Human Rights NGOs and officials.

The meeting was held in continuation of a Danish-funded international expert seminar on the identification of positive vision energies between religious and religious freedom and equality through the use of the UN's World Goals.

The fourth meeting of the Contact Forum therefore use the occasion to invite international FoRB experts to a round table with the Danish Contact Forum of particularly interested in the Danish effort for religious and religious freedom.

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Soteria International at the CESNUR 2019 International Conference, Turin 5-7 September

In September, between 5 to 7 September took place” The International Conference of CESNUR 2019” in Turin, Italy, at the Luigi Einaudi Campus of the University of Turin.

The subject of this year CESNUR conference was:  “RE-ENCHANTING THE WORLD:
SPIRITUALITIES AND RELIGIONS OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM”.

Soteria International’s representative was the chairperson of session 31 of the CESNUR Conference 2019.

We can say that there are several scholars and human rights organizations interested in studying such subjects and problems in the society.

One of them, which is an international network of scholars who study new religious movements is CESNUR, which has as founder and managing director Prof Massimo Introvigne.

The CESNUR, Center for Studies on New Religions , is the largest Research and Information Center on the modern and contemporary religious phenomenon of Europe, which has also created an Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy updated online daily, and promoter of the Journal of CESNUR , magazine in-depth academic studies on minority religions and spirituality issues.

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Forced Conversion in South Korea Should Be Put to an End

An Open Letter to President Moon Jae-in

Forced Conversion in South Korea Should Be Put to an End: An Open Letter to President Moon Jae-in

한국의 강제 개종은 끝나야 한다 : 문재인 대통령에게 보내는 공개 서신

Dear President Moon:

존경하는 문재인 대통령님:

We represent international NGOs and scholarly organizations specialized in researching religious pluralism and new religious movements throughout the world, and advocating for religious liberty.

우리는 전 세계에 걸쳐 종교 다원주의와 새로운 종교 운동을 연구하고 종교 자유를 옹호하는 국제 NGO와 학술 단체를 대표합니다.

South Korea is a democratic country in an area where several totalitarian regimes persecute believers of all religions. We commend your government’s efforts to speak out for human rights and religious liberty in Eastern Asia.

한국은 몇몇 전체주의 정권이 모든 종교인을 박해하는 지역에 있는 민주주의 국가입니다. 우리는 동아시아에서 인권과 종교 자유를 옹호하는 한국 정부의 노력을 높이 평가합니다.

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Brutal treatment of Falun Gong prisoners inside Chinese labor camps

By: Bill Melugin

A California family is taking their fight to the Chinese government after they say their loved one was tortured and killed inside of a Chinese labor camp nearly 20 years ago, simply for supporting the spiritual meditation practice known as Falun Gong. Now, never before seen undercover video given to FOX 11 is revealing what life is like for political prisoners inside of those Chinese labor camps. 
In 1999, the Chinese government ordered the eradication Falun Gong, calling it a “heretical” organization that threatened social stability. 

The communist government began arresting and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, and shipped them to labor camps where they were to be “re-educated”.

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Faith and Freedom Summit II - Press Conference

On Monday April 1, 2019 at 11am Press Club Brussels Europe the "Faith and Freedom Summit "will keep a Press Conference, where the core points will be:

* What is the Faith and Freedom Summit and why?

* Who signed the Faith and Freedom Summit pledge?

see the pleadge at : https://faithandfreedomsummit.eu/

* How does faith and freedom relate to the EU elections?

* How freedom of religion or belief relates to security issues across the world, and particularly in Europe?

* What are the next moves and initiatives of the Faith and Freedom Summit and how will it impact EU institutions?

The speakers at the Press conference are:

Lea Perekrests Deputy Director - Human Rights Without Frontiers International

Bashy Quraichy Secretary General - EMISCO (European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion) Chair-Advisory Council-ENAR

Martin Weightman Director - All Faiths Network

Massimo Introvigne Editor-in-Chief - Bitter Winter Director - CESNUR, Center for the Study of New Religions

Ivan Arjona Pelado President - European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights

Richard Milsom Chief Executive - ACRE, Alliance of Conservative and Reformists in Europe

Christine Mirre Deputy Director - CAP Freedom of Conscience

Inquiries: contact@faithandfreedomsummit.eu  www.faithandfreedomsummit.eu

 

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Faith and Freedom Summit II

Practicing what we Preach in Europe,

Soteria International together with a larger network of NGOs stand behind Faith & Freedom Summit II, that takes place next tuesday 2nd of April in the European Parliament.

We mean that freedom of conscience and religion must be secured at all levels of the EU, where it does not always enjoy the respect and attention it does deserve as a fundamental right.

The summit invites those who actively want to take a stand for everyone's right to live in line with their heart, faith and conscience. It is also a call for action: practicing what we preach in Europe!

Faith & Freedom Summit II has written a pledge, which is supported by FNs special rappourteur on freedom of religion and belief Ahmed Shaheed, that anyone has the oppertunity to sign as a mark of one's support for the complaince of our fundamental rights.

"I pledge that I will uphold and defend the freedom of conscience and religion of all individuals by rejecting and speaking out against bigotry, discrimination, harassment and violence; and so build a more equitable society for all."
Read more at:

https://faithandfreedomsummit.eu/faith-and-freedom-summit-ii

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