Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

UKRAINE: Sexual violence and rapes by Russia

Sexual violence and rape as abuses of power in Russia’s war on Ukraine


Presentation at the hearing “Sexual violence and rape as abuses of power” held by the FEMM Committee of the European Parliament on 13 October.


By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

The panelists were

Ms Katarzyna KOZLOWSKA, social activist, founder and President of the #SayStop Foundation

Dr. Branka ANTIC-STAUBER, collaboration with Organisations supporting victims of sexual violence in Bosnia

Mr Willy FAUTRÉ, Director and Co-Founder of Human Rights Without Frontiers

Opening: Vice-Chair MEP Radka Maxovà

Official pictures of the event here


HRWF (14.10.2022) – Abuse of power leading to sexual violence and rape has many facets and can take place in many contexts. Within the family, in the professional context, in a religious context, in the world of sports, in the economic and political world. Another area of abuse of power and extreme brutality, but in wartime now, concerns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where a foreign occupation army uses its power to commit massive exactions, including sexual violence and rape.


Sexual abuse, violence and rape in Ukraine in wartime


For more than 230 days, allegations of sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine have been dramatically mounting. At this stage, it is difficult to have even a rough estimate of the number of cases due to several factors, despite the intense work of the ICC and UN bodies.


It is already difficult for a victim in times of peace to reveal such a traumatizing experience. So, you can imagine the mindset of such victims in wartime. It means that testimonies collected by the UN, the ICC or the Red Cross will only represent a tiny portion of the magnitude of the tragedy. A huge number of cases will fall through the cracks as many women fled to EU countries, were displaced internally or were deported to Russia in unknown conditions. Moreover, the war is still raging in the occupied territories on Ukraine.


The fraught nature of sexual atrocities, which are historically underreported, means that in Ukraine it will be a long time before the full scale of the problem is clear. The small towns in the suburbs of Kyiv that are already known to the world for the widespread killing of civilians — Bucha, Borodyanka and Irpin — are haunted by tales of rape, too. Ukrainian officials and activists have also heard many accounts of sexual atrocities from regions that remain under occupation today.


In such conditions, collecting reliable data is extremely hard. In Ukrainian society, and especially in rural areas, sexual crimes are so stigmatized that victims fear being judged by their social environment. It is usually the victim’s relatives and friends who seek help on the victim’s behalf.

Position of the UN and other institutions on sexual violence and rape in Ukraine

Despite all the difficulties that have been mentioned, it is obvious that Russian soldiers are using rape as a tactic of war. This was clearly confirmed by Pramila Patten, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, when she briefed the UN Security Council on 6 June after her visit to Ukraine in early May.


Since 24 February, Pramila Patten has issued three public statements “to ensure that this issue is not shrouded in silence or normalized by impunity”. She has also urged all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians from sexual violence.


“Too often have the needs of women and girls in conflict settings been side-lined and treated as an afterthought,” she said.


She also warned against waiting too long to act, saying

An active battle-ground is never conducive to accurate ‘book-keeping’ […] if we wait for hard data and statistics, it will always be too late,”

and she called on the international community to mobilize immediately.

Information from the field and statistics provided by investigating institutions are indeed scarce and fragmented.

As of 3 June, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had received reports of 124 alleged acts of conflict-related sexual abuse across Ukraine — mostly against women and girls, and I would dare say only 124.

In June, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) released a report covering the period from 24 February until 15 May 2022 in which Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN body, noted that she had received numerous allegations and had been able to verify 23 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, including cases of rape, gang rape, torture, forced public stripping, and threats of sexual violence.


Natalia Karbowska, Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Development for the Ukrainian Women’s Fund, testified before the UN Security Council that

“Although the full scale of conflict-related sexual violence is not yet known, human rights activists and law enforcement agencies estimate that hundreds of cases have been committed not just against women and girls, but also men and boys and people of other gender identities.”

La Strada Ukraine, a well-known human rights organization, has been receiving calls about incidents of sexual crimes since early March. In the first two months of the war, they said they learned about 17 victims: one man and 16 women, three of whom were teenagers.


According to Iuliia Anosova, a lawyer with the group, they collected, from their hotline, stories about groups of soldiers committing rapes in front of onlookers.

The  Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also reported cases of conflict-related sexual violence, particularly rape and forced nudity, across the country, noting that these assaults often take place in conjunction with other crimes, including killings.

Pramila Patten, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflicts, concluded her report at the United Nations in June by saying:

“We do not need hard data for a scaled-up humanitarian response, nor for all parties to put in place preventive measures.

Against that backdrop, she urged humanitarian actors to prioritize support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

Ukraine cooperates with the UN

On 3 May, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna signed the “Framework of Cooperation with the United Nations on the Prevention and Response to Conflict Related Sexual Violence.”

Five critical areas are highlighted in the Framework and can be used as guidelines for the current and future management of sexual violence and rapes:

  • First, strengthening rule of law and accountability as a central aspect of deterrence and prevention of crimes of sexual violence. 
  • Second, strengthening the capacity of the security and defence sector to prevent sexual violence.  
  • Third, ensuring that survivors of sexual violence, as well as their children, have access to adequate services, including sexual and reproductive health, psychological, legal, socioeconomic services and reintegration support.  
  • Fourth, ensuring that sexual violence is addressed in the framework of any ceasefire agreement, and ensuring that amnesties for sexual violence crimes are explicitly prohibited.  
  • And fifth, addressing conflict-related trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation or prostitution.


The legal frameworks exist, the policies based on past experience in other conflict settings exist, the political will exists to seek, provide and analyze evidence, and the prosecution mechanisms exist. Impunity cannot and should not prevail even if it takes years or decades to identify, hunt and arrest the perpetrators as it was the case with the Nazi criminals of WWII.

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

RUSSIA: Will Patriarch Kirill be an accomplice to war crimes and the gravedigger of the Orthodox Church?

Will Patriarch Kirill go down in History as an accomplice to war crimes and the gravedigger of the Russian Orthodox Church?

Patriarch Kirill’s crucifixion on the cross

The Patriarch is The Patriarch is looking for a way out of the moral and political abyss while theologians from different countries raise the question of his excommunication (Novaya Gazeta, Peace Nobel Prize 2021, one of the last Russian independent media outlets)

HRWF Call to Patriarch Kirill: “Patriarch Kirill, you may be the only person who has the power to stop President Putin in his war in Ukraine. Will you use this power or will you go down in History as an accomplice to war crimes and as the gravedigger of the Russian Orthodox Church?”


Novaya Gazeta (20.03.2022) – https://bit.ly/3N6SLD0The current catastrophe of humanity has become a challenge to religious consciousness. There were a number of religious figures in Russia who have shown that they are able to “justify” absolutely everything. Can a Christian, following the command of conscience, not fulfill the command of power, which forces a grave sin?


After reading the prayer “On the “Brother Cain”, on the evening of March 16, Pope Francis spoke via video link with Patriarch Kirill. The details of the conversation are unknown – the patriarchy sparingly reports that “a detailed discussion of the situation on Ukrainian soil took place” and the parties expressed “hope for an early achievement of a just peace”.


On the same evening, Kirill talked to the head of the Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby. Both patriarchal interlocutors had previously harshly condemned what is forbidden to be called by real name. As condemned by the whole stunned Christian world (with rare exceptions, mainly coinciding with the border line of the Russian Federation). After all, the above… “situation” has a truly biblical, metaphysical scale.


“Justification” or at least “explanation” of evil and violence is a key problem of any philosophical system, any religion.


The current catastrophe of humanity has become a challenge to religious consciousness. There were a number of religious figures in Russia who have shown that they are able to “justify” absolutely everything.


How do they do it and how does the Christian tradition respond to them?

Legisl law”


“A fight that has metaphysical significance,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church described what is happening in Ukraine in his sermon on Forgiveness Sunday. So, it is performed not only on earth, but also in the sky, in the invisible world. It is difficult to get rid of associations with Islamic jihad, a holy war in which external violence is only a reflection of spiritual content. Kirill compared his own position in this struggle to the crucifixion on the cross.


Three days later, on March 9, in a new sermon, he addressed the problem of the nature of the state and the right of some states to violence against others. States “are institutions that have the legitimate right to use force, forcing … other countries, if they see them as a threat, to ensure that there is no threat.” This interpretation in principle justifies any war between countries, including World War II. The social concept of the ROC, adopted more than 20 years ago as its official doctrine, on the contrary, condemns state violence if it involves sin: “If the authorities force Orthodox believers … to commit sinful, spiritual acts, the Church should refuse to obey the state. A Christian, following the command of conscience, may not fulfill the commands of power that force him to commit committing a grave sin.”


For more than 60 years, the ROC has been a member of the largest ecumenical association – the World Council of Churches (WCC), which considers peacekeeping its priority. Now the Secretary General of the Council is an Orthodox priest from Romania John Sauca, who appealed to Patriarch Kirill to influence the military and political leadership of the Russian Federation. On March 10, the Patriarch signed a rather harsh rebuke to the Secretary General of the WCC, where he accused NATO countries of what was happening, allegedly deceiving Russia and allegedly intending to attack The Patriarch accused the West of excessive sanctions against the Russian Federation and rampant Russophobia.


This political concept is now included in the ROC worship. The Patriarchate ordered to proclaim a prayer at each liturgy, in which there are words addressed to Christ: “But with an infirmant language, to those who want and against Holy Russia to the rank – forbid and overthrow their plans.”


That is, some foreigners turned against Russia, however, in his other sermon, the patriarch made it clear that he had attacked… Ukraine:


“Political forces have emerged on a nearby, native Ukrainian land… How nasty and mean it is to use the fraternal people to implement their geopolitical goals! How terrible it is to set this people on your brothers! How terrible it is to arm him so that he can fight his half-brothers and half-believing brothers!” However, elsewhere in the same sermon, Kirill claims that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, which means that the “special operation” takes place not between countries, but within the same people: “Frightened by his power, the neighbors began to do everything to divide this people to inspire parts of this people that you are not one people at all.”


The main theological authority in the ROC in recent decades was considered Honored Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Alexei Osipov, who – to the disappointment of many of his fans – today has been actively involved in military propaganda. His main arguments simply repeat TV: “protection of Donbass residents”; “NATO containment” and “denazification”. The last slogan was answered by the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, which, in active cooperation with the State of Israel, is engaged in the evacuation of the Jewish population from the combat zone. “Thesis about “denazification,” says the community, “is a mistaken choice of Russian propaganda… – Is there a need to “denacify” a country where the law “On Countering and Preventing Anti-Semitism” was adopted for the first time in 30 years of independence?.. Criminal liability for anti-Semitism has been introduced.” During the conflict, both the buildings of the synagogues and the Babi Yar memorial in Kiev, where the Jewish cemetery used to be located, were damaged. “In the Talmud, desecration of bones is called a kind of form of killing,” the community reminded.

Is justice higher than forgiveness?


On the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on March 13, the Patriarch presented in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to the head of Rosgvardia the August Icon of the Mother of God, which appeared to Russian soldiers at the very beginning of the First World War, in August 1914. This phenomenon occurred near the city of Mariampol (consonant with Mariupol) in East Prussia. Both cities bear the name of the Mother of God, but what is happening in Mariupol is incomparable to what happened in Mariampol.


Pope Francis dedicated his last Sunday sermon to the universal tragedy of Mariupol: “The city bearing her name, Mariupol, has become a martyr city tearing the soul [a word that the RKN forbids to use], which exhausts Ukraine. Before the barbarism of the murder of children, innocent and defenseless civilians, there can be no convincing strategic arguments: it is necessary to stop this unacceptable armed [the word prohibited by the RKN] before it turns cities into cemeteries… In the name of God, I ask you: stop this bloodshed!”


As if in response to the call of 286 clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church to stop hostilities and remember mutual forgiveness Kirill said: “Forgiveness without justice is surrender and weakness.”


It is obvious that such “weakness” is overflowing with the entire Gospel and all Christianity, which should be replaced by religion that raises morale and nurtures hatred for the Western world.


“Russian World” as heresy and Manichaeism


Orthodox theologians from different countries recently signed a document in which the concept of the “Russian World” – one of the ideological foundations of “special operation” – is understood as a theological heresy. This document can form the basis for the condemnation of the ROC and the excommunication of its patriarch at the summit of the Pentarchy (the five oldest churches of the Orthodox East), which will meet in April in Constantinople. In his “historical speech” on the night of February 22, Vladimir Putin appealed to the doctrine of the “Russian World”. Professor of Theology Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun) (ROC) identifies this idea of Putin with Manichaeism – a Gnostic syncretical doctrine of the III-VI centuries, which influenced later occultism.


Putin’s Manichaeism is the belief that NATO and the United States are some kind of ontological evil and everything they say is a lie. Ukraine turned out to be the scene of a clash of light and darkness: being an organic part of the Russian World, it suddenly came under the full control of the West, which contradicts its nature, so Ukraine must be “saved”.


Oh. Kirill draws attention to the fact that Putin’s “Orthodoxy” on many points clearly contradicts the church tradition. For example, the president declared that Islam is closer to Orthodoxy than Catholicism, and that Saints Boris and Gleb should not be honored because they voluntarily went to death instead of fighting the enemy – Svyatopolk the Cursed. The professor notes the obvious occult aspects of this religiosity: numerology (the beginning of “military special operations” on “beautiful” dates such as 08.08.08 or 22.02.22) and dependence on parapsychologists.


According to Sergei Shumilo, Director of the International Institute of Athos Heritage, the Soviet-Orthodox ideological hybridity “combines painful ideas that have inspired residents of Russia over the past 30 years. They believe that there was no Ukraine, that someone is constantly “inventing” Ukrainians. The city of Kiev takes the place of a magical symbol in this doctrine.


Among those who signed the theological document condemning the “Russian World” there are only a few theologians from Russia. This is the rector of the Bible and Theological Institute Dr. Alexey Bodrov, Professor of Leningrad State University named after A.S. Pushkina Tatiana Pronina, Dr. Bishop Gregory (Lurier) and former editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” Sergei Chapnin. We must pay tribute to their courage. In short, the authors of the document call “Russian World” “ethnophyletic religious fundamentalism of a totalitarian nature.” The essence of the doctrine is that “there is a transnational Russian civilization called Holy Russia, which includes Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (and sometimes Moldova and Kazakhstan), as well as ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking people around the world. It is claimed that this “Russian World” has a common political center (Moscow), a common spiritual center (Kiev), a common language (Russian), a common church (Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate) and a common patriarch (Patriarch of Moscow), who works in a “symphony” with a common president/national leader (Putin) in the field of governance of this Russian world, and also defends a common original spirituality, morality and culture… This “Russian world” (as the doctrine says) is opposed by a corrupt West led by the United States and Western European peoples, capitulating to “liberalism”, “globalization”, “Christophobia”, “rights of homosexuals” promoted on gay parades, and “militant secularism”. Against the West… the Moscow Patriarchate, together with Vladimir Putin, acts as true defenders of Orthodox doctrine, which they consider in the categories of traditional morality, rigorist and unyielding understanding of tradition and veneration of Holy Russia.


“Ethnophyletism” as a doctrine of a special place or special rights of one people in the Orthodox Church has already been condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 1872. The identification of the church with the mission of some earthly state contradicts the words of Christ: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom had come from this world, my servants would have fought so that I would not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36). Adherents of the Russian World, on the contrary, reduce the function of the church to auxiliary work in the interests of the nation and the state. The “Association of Orthodox Experts” of the ROC writes that after the “liberation” of Ukraine, the church will be engaged in the return of … the Russian national identity of Little Russians, who need to be helped to remember “where did the Russian Land come from”.


It is not clear whether the authoritative book of the New Testament is for supporters of the Russian World. In it, for example, the Apostle Paul writes that “there is no more Jew, nor Greek, nor slave, nor free, there is no more man and woman; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). What is the significance of the notorious “Russian identity” for connecting with Christ and saving the soul?! Christianity recognizes the unity of all human nature, in which Christ, the Son of God, was incarnated, and the nature of Russians in this sense is no different from the nature of Americans. In addition, theologians write that “the unleashing <…> is the final failure of Christ’s law of love.”


This is also evidenced by the Synod of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which calls the phenomenon that we are forbidden to call by our name the most terrible sin.


“Do not touch my anointed, and do not do evil to My prophets” – such a commandment is contained in the Psalms (psalm 104). In the Orthodox tradition, it was customary to interpret it in the meaning of the inviolability of individuals of kings and priests. But during the “special operation” the facts of destruction and desecration of churches and violence against clerics were noted. On the night of the celebration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the rocket hit the buildings of the Svyatogorsk Lavra of the Moscow Patriarchate, which was previously considered a stronghold of the Russian World. And in Berdyansk, after his “liberation” priest Oleg Nikolaev, who belongs to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, disappeared. Mission Fr. Oleg was studying the feat of the new martyrs of the twentieth century, and now parishioners fear that he may follow the path of martyrdom.


In Russia itself, there is already the first priest convicted of “Blessed are the Peacekeepers” – Fr. John Burdin from Kostroma.


The outstanding church writer Archpriest Valentin Sventsitsky wrote in 1906, addressing his modern hierarchy: “Woe to you, Pharisees and scribes, who exhausted the people, bless rapists, robbers, robbers who covered the entire Russian land with terrible wounds. Woe to you, metropolitans, bishops, priests, together with the servants of the antichrist, who tormented Christ, who came to you under the spect of a servant. Woe to you, who strangled the light of Christ, alienated the best people from the Church, guarded faith with machine guns, soldiers and gendarmes.” There’s nothing to add to that.

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

ALGERIA: About the criminalization of freedom of expression on religious issues

Human Rights Without Frontiers calls upon the international community to defend the freedom of thought of Islamic scholar Said Djabelkhir


By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

HRWF (18.02.2021) – On 25 February, Said Djabelkhir, an Algerian expert in Sufism, will appear before a court in Sidi M’hemed (Alger) for allegedly insulting Islam.

The court accepted to hear a complaint filed against him by a university professor of Sidi Bel Abbes University, Abderezzak Bouidjra, along with a group of rigorist conservative Muslims. The accusation is “contempt of Islam, infringement and mockery of the authentic hadiths of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, the pillar of the Hajj (pilgrimage) and the ritual sacrifice of the sheep of Eid,” according to AsiaNews.

The plaintiff as well as his lawyers reproach the scholar for submitting Islam to “questioning reason”.

The controversial Algerian researcher is very active on social media and is regularly interviewed by the national media. In 2019, during the Ramadan, he declared on El Bilad TV that at the time of the Prophet fasting was not an obligation and not all his followers were fasting. He was then vilified on social media and threatened with death.

Blasphemy issues, allegedly offending religious feelings or inciting religious hatred, allegedly insulting or mocking a religion are concepts that are enshrined in laws of a number or countries. Such accusations are often instrumentalized for various vested interests when they are taken to court.

Freedom of thought and expression or theological disputes inside a religion should exclusively be regulated according to the internal rules of the religion and not by civil law. If such a freedom is repressed by national laws, this state interference leads to some form of state religious inquisition and some degree of theocracy. Pluralism of religious opinions and religious dissidence are an integral part of international standards of freedom of religion or belief.

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

ALGERIA: Mocking the government and religion: 3 years in prison

HRWF (06.01.2021) – Walid Kechida, 25, was sentenced to three years in jail and fined 500,000 dinars (3,075 EUR) on 4 January for satirical social media posts allegedly mocking the government and religion.


According to Kaci Tansaout from the CNLD prisoners’ rights group, he was accused of insulting Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 75, and “offending the precepts” of Islam in online posts.


His lawyers said they would appeal the decision.


Kechida has already spent eight months in detention awaiting trial.


On 1 January, the office of the President announced that he had signed into law the country’s new constitution, months after the document was approved following a referendum that saw a record low voter turnout. The document received scant support, with less than 15 percent of the population voting in its favour during the November vote. This referendum was overshadowed by the novel coronavirus pandemic and followed calls for a boycott.


The new constitution was pitched as a response to the demands of the Hirak protest movement. However, it keeps Algeria’s presidential regime in control and expands the powers of the army, a central pillar of the state.


The repressive character of the regime has not changed with the new president. In mid-December, two Coptic Christians were sentenced to between two and three years in prison for allegedly mocking religion.

Photo: Walid Kechida.

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1345

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1346

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1347

TAIWAN: Tai Ji Men: Arbitrary auction, fabricated case, illegal arrest of Ms Huang

HRWF (05.01.2021) – On 10 December, Human Rights Day, CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) and HRWF (Human Rights Without Frontiers) held a press conference online to launch a White Paper titled “Justice Denied: The Tai Ji Men Case in Taiwan”, an in-depth report by independent experts on a crucial issue: the judicial, administrative and fiscal bullying of a peaceful and law-abiding group rooted in esoteric Taoism. This 24-year-long arbitrary persecution through the government’s power led to some dramatic events in the last few months.

In late August 2020, disregarding due process, Taiwan’s Administrative Enforcement Agency (under the Ministry of Justice) and National Taxation Bureau (NTB) arbitrarily seized and auctioned properties that belonged to Dr Hong Tao-tze, the founder and spiritual leader of the Tai Ji Men.

This forcible intervention of the Enforcement Agency and Taxation Bureau was allegedly due to a tax bill dating back to 1992, despite this bill having been recognized as an unjustified tax disposition by Taiwanese courts.

Some suspect that there was a profit-making objective behind this auction.


The auction, a lucrative business for some

Indeed, officers of the National Tax Bureau normally receive a bonus based on the taxes they collected.

Officers at the Enforcement Agency also receive a bonus from the enforcement results of the auction.

Additionally, government officers involved in the Tai Ji Men case both at the National Tax Bureau and the Enforcement Agency received a bonus from handling the case.

It is because of all these alluring bonuses that some scholars suspected that Tai Ji Men’s case was a deliberately fabricated case.

One of the bureaucrats that Tai Ji Men suspects of abuse of power is Lee Gui-fen, Chief Enforcement Officer of Hsinchu Branch of Administrative Enforcement Agency, under the Ministry of Justice. This suspicion is supported by a document with Lee Gui-fen’s seal that outlines the bonus allocation of credits for job performance from enforcing the auction of Tai Ji Men’s properties before the official announcement of the auction had been publicised.


The demonstration and arrest of Ms Huang

On 19 September 2020, a volunteer for the Legal and Tax Reform League and Tai Ji Men member, Ms Huang, used her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Taiwan to question and denounce the lucrative nature of this auction. She was about to peacefully promote taxpayer’s rights on the street with others while holding a sign with Lee Gui-fen’s name on it when she was surrounded by several police officers. She hadn’t even raised the sign yet.

The officers stopped the demonstration when it just started. Without any justified reason, they demanded that Ms Huang present her ID.

When other volunteers asked whether they were in a restricted an area where individuals are prohibited from holding signs promoting their ideas and why they were questioning Ms Huang, the police did not respond. Instead, they asked that everyone show their IDs and ordered the volunteers to leave. They also threatened that anyone recording the scene to protect their own rights would be questioned or detained in the police station for three hours. By disrupting the voluntary and peaceful promotion of taxpayer’s rights, the authorities deprived these individuals  of their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

The volunteers finally cooperated and provided their IDs. The police officers checked them and didn’t take any further action against Ms Huang. Thirty minutes later, the police officers surrounded Ms Huang again while she no longer had the sign with Lee Gui-fen’s name on it. However, several police officers searched the bag belonging to another volunteer without a warrant or her consent. One of the police officers discovered a poster with Lee Gui-fen’s name on it, forced Ms Huang to hold it visibly and called her a criminal. Moreover, even when Ms. Huang and other volunteers asked what crime Ms. Huang had committed, the police did not tell her at all, and they arrested her directly. This obviously violates the provisions of Taiwan’s Criminal Procedure Act: when arresting an offender, the police must clearly inform her of the law she violated. Later, the police officers argued that the volunteers went to an area near the residence of a civil servant, Lee Gui-fen, to slander her by name, which was endangering the personal safety of her family members. Although the volunteers didn’t know where Lee Gui-fen lives and this accusation was all wrong and unfounded, when arresting her, the police declared to Ms Huang that Lee Gui-fen had already pressed charges against her and that Ms Huang was caught red-handed.

According to the Criminal Procedure Act of Taiwan, an accuser must go to the police station to complete a record of complaint before she can formally file a complaint. On the day of the 19 September Incident, the director of Zhubei Police Department and the director of Liu-Jia Police Station said that Lee Gui-fen had already filed a complaint on 18 September. However, Ms Huang passed by the place on 19 September and decided on a whim to join the group to hold a sign. If Lee Gui-fen had already filed a complaint on 18 September, how could she have foreseen that Ms Huang would hold a sign at the place on 19 September? The deputy director of the Liu-Jia Police Station later changed his statement and said that on 19 September, when the police saw the sign that Ms Huang was holding, they called Lee Gui-fen to ask if she would like to file a complaint. Lee Gui-fen said that she wanted to file a complaint, so they arrested Ms Huang. When questioned by the County Council, Hsinchu County police chief also changed the police’s statement and said that Lee Gui-fen filed the complaint on 19 September. The inconsistent statements were obviously an attempt to cover up the fact of illegal arrest.

Ms Huang was taken to the Liu-Jia police station in Zhubei by more than a dozen police officers without being informed of the charges against her until the investigation.

The following day, the Zhubei Police Station published a press release claiming that “Tai Ji Men, in the disguise of a tax reform group, protested near the residence of the Chief Enforcement Officer of (Hsinchu Branch of) the Administrative Enforcement Agency, damaging the public officer’s reputation and endangering the safety of her family. Such an approach crosses the legal red line and will be cast aside by the people of the nation.” This statement, with an improper personal subjective comment, was intended to mislead the public to believe that the person holding the sign was allegedly intimidating a civil servant. This press release also used emotional language to accuse the Legal and Tax Reform league and Tai Ji Men.


Who is Ms. Huang?

Ms Huang is not a troublemaker. She had never been stopped or arrested by the police before this incident. She did not threaten national security nor disturb public order on 19 September.

Ms Huang is an ordinary Taiwanese citizen. She is 60 years old. She is married and has two children. She has been a housewife for her whole life. She has been passionate about volunteering for environmental protection in schools and her community. She was also praised by the Taoyuan City government and has been a member of Tai Ji Men for 29 years.


At the police station and the prosecutor’s office

During the interrogation at the police station, Ms Huang was treated with complete disrespect. She was accused of publicly defaming a public servant, Lee Gui-fen.

In the meantime, a group of protesters gathered outside the police station. One of them, Dr. Tze-Lung Chen, former professor of law at National Taiwan University, repeatedly asked why they had arrested Ms Huang. The police refused to answer, claiming they could not comment on an ongoing prosecutorial investigation despite it only being a police investigation. Professor Chen accused the police officers of abusing their power and urged them to release Ms Huang as there was no written complaint of her alleged defamation or intimidation.

However, instead the police transferred her to the Prosecutor’s Office. With no regard for her age nor physical and mental state of health, she was deprived of her freedom and interrogated for nearly eight hours in the police station and prosecutor’s office. She was not released by the Prosecutor until 1 am and the prosecutor imposed a restriction on her residence.

During the interrogation, many angry volunteers wanted to press charges against the police for illegally arresting Ms Huang, but the prosecutor refused to accept them.

The arrest caused immense mental and physical distress for Ms Huang. After hours of interrogation, first at the police station and then at the Prosecutor’s Office, she fainted and was sent to hospital. A doctor there diagnosed her with acute stress and trauma syndrome.



Taiwan has the reputation of being a democratic country. Articles 11 and 14 of the Constitution of Taiwan guarantee the freedom of speech and assembly. Additionally, it is a fact that enforcement officers get a bonus for enforcing an auction; it is not something fabricated out of thin air. And the public are entitled to question how much bonus they get. As such, Ms Huang’s sign was legally protected by the Constitution. It read: “Lee Gui-fen, chief enforcement officer of the Hsinchu Branch of the Administrative Enforcement Agency, how much bonus did you get from handling the Tai Ji Men case? NT$100,000? NT$1 million? Or NT$10 million? Give it back!!!”

In this case, the Taiwanese authorities failed to behave democratically,  failed to further investigate illegal officials and instead abused their power to restrict personal freedom and silence citizens.

Photo: A Tai Ji Men protest in Taiwan. Credit: CESNUR.

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1395

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1396

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1397