1

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1342

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 1342

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1343

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 1343

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1344

TAIWAN: UN Human Rights Day on 10 December and the Tai Ji Men Case

UN Human Rights Day and the Tai Ji Men Case

 

HRWF (10.12.2022) – The 10th of December is the day when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 and it is commemorated worldwide since then by the international community. It was then a day of hope in the future after the terrifying Second World War which killed dozens of million people on the battlefields of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

 

However, there is another date in December that is not commemorated as a day of hope in Taiwan but that is remembered as a day of sadness by Tai Ji Men and the dizi. It is the 19th of December, that fateful day in 1996, when Prosecutor Kuan-Ren Hou, after falsely reporting Tai Ji Men and Dr Hong of tax evasion, led hundreds of armed police officers to search all chapters of the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy as well as the private residences of several Tai Ji Men dizi.

 

This is when a long series of human rights violations started to hit Tai Ji Men.

 

It was a human rights violation to fabricate false charges and to organize a police crackdown on 19 December 1996 because two prosecutors had ruled a month earlier that the suspicions were unfounded and that they were closing the case.

 

It was a human rights violation to reopen the case without any legal reason.

 

It was a human rights violation to arrest Dr Hong nine days after the commemoration of the UN Human Rights Day in Taiwan and to keep him in detention for almost four months. It was proven to be illegal as Dr Hong was later exonerated of all charges and even granted a national compensation for unlawful imprisonment.

 

It was a human rights violation to detain his wife and two dizi a few days later.

 

On 23 December, all assets of Dr. Hong and his wife were illegally frozen, including those unrelated to the activities of Tai Ji Men.

 

On Christmas Day, Prosecutor Hou promoted the establishment of a “victims’ association” for those allegedly defrauded by Tai Ji Men. It will later be revealed that some of the so-called “victims” had in fact never been part of Tai Ji Men, and the association was basically a fraud.

 

Prosecutor Hou broke the law when he summoned and pressured tax collector Shih Yue-Sheng (who died in 2020) to falsely claim that Qigong Academy was a “cram school” providing students rapid tuition, with the consequence that the money given by the dizi to their master in the so-called “red envelopes” was a taxable tuition fee rather than a non-taxable gift. Before he died in 2020, the tax collector publicly testified that he did corporate with the prosecutor in perjury.

 

He was cooperating with the prosecutor in perjury

 

One year later, in April 1997, Prosecutor Hou, overstepped his authority and wrote to the Ministry of Interior demanding the dissolution of Tai Ji Men. This unacceptable harassment clearly showed that he wanted to destroy Tai Ji Men.

 

On 21 May 1997, Prosecutor Hou again overstepped his authority and wrote to the government of the counties and cities where the twelve Tai Ji Men Qigong Academies were located, demanding the dissolution of all of them.

 

On 26 May, the first hearing of the Tai Ji Men case was opened in the 7th Criminal Court of Taipei. The case lasted for more than six years. On the same day, Dr. Hong and his wife were finally released from detention and later on declared innocent. But the persecution went on unabated.

 

On 18 June 1997, Prosecutor Hou overstepped again his authority and wrote to the Public Works Departments of Taipei City and Taipei County asking that water and electricity supply to Tai Ji Men be terminated.

 

In October–December 1997, based on Prosecutor Hou’s indictment, the National Taxation Bureau (NTB) issued tax bills for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996, claiming that the money received by Dr. Hong in the “red envelopes” in those years should be considered as derived from tuition fees rather than gifts. Two branches of the NTB were involved, of Taipei (for 1996) and of the Central Area (for the other years). This happened although at the same time, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education stated that Tai Ji Men is not a cram school. And the same statement was reiterated again in the years 1999 and 2000.

 

On this day of commemoration of the signing of the UN Human Rights Declaration, I could enumerate for hours dozens of violations of human rights perpetrated against Tai Ji Men by Prosecutor Hou or instigated by him so that Tai Ji Men could be persecuted by the NTB and other institutions.

 

In 2002, the Control Yuan, the nation’s top watchdog body, investigated the management of the Tai Ji Men case by Prosecutor Hou, accused him of abuse of authority and referred his case to the Justice Ministry for sanctions.

According to the Control Yuan’s report, Hou was guilty of

 

  • Initiating an investigation based on fabricated charges
  • Violating the principle of confidentiality during the investigation
  • Interrogating the defendants without prior notice to their attorneys as required by law
  • Treating the defendants improperly and rudely when interrogating them
  • Freezing the defendants’ assets without any evidence of illegal gains
  • Overstepping his authority by issuing letters on his own, requesting the dissolution of Tai Ji Men
  • Calling for the establishment of an association of alleged victims of Tai Ji Men, blindly siding with them and failing to verify the credibility of their claims, hereby damaging his own image of an impartial law enforcement officer

 

In 2009, the Control Yuan carried out another investigation on the NTB in relation to their misconducts for handling Tai Ji Men case. Seven instances of serious misconduct were found.

 

Despite these thorough reports and the documented serious charges, no directors, officers or prosecutor were ever penalised by any disciplinary actions.

 

For 26 years, Prosecutor Hou’s coup attempt against a charitable spiritual movement training generations of young people spending their time and their money to become good Taiwanese citizens and make Taiwanese society more humane has remained unpunished.

 

The violations of human rights by Prosecutor Hou against Tai Ji Men are innumerable and nobody will ever be able to establish an exhaustive list of them but what matters is to go on fighting against impunity.

 

Impunity cannot prevail in deliberately repeated cases of violations of human rights by a recidivist. The fight for justice needs to go on unabated in the Tai Ji Men case.

 

10 December, a day of hope, and 19 December, a day of sadness, are two milestones that need to be commemorated in a specific way.

 

My message to Tai Ji Men and all dizi is today to have faith in their peaceful but determined war against injustice, to go on fighting for their own case, to help other victims of the tax administration in Taiwan and to be living examples of human rights defenders while spreading peace and love.





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1342

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 1342

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1343

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 1343

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1344

TAIWAN: The UN International Day of Charity and the Tai Ji Men Case

The UN International Day of Charity and the Tai Ji Men Case

HRWF (05.09.2022) – The International Day of Charity is observed annually on the 5th of September. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. This date was chosen in order to commemorate the death anniversary of Mother Teresa, who had always been engaged all her life in charitable work.

The primary purpose of the International Day of Charity is to raise awareness and provide a common platform for charity related activities all over the world.

Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world.

She was born in 1910 in Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia in Central Europe but then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Little is known about her early life, but at a young age, she felt a calling to be a nun and serve through helping the poor. At the age of 18, she was given permission to join a group of nuns in Ireland. After a few months of training, she was given permission to travel to India.

On her arrival in India, she began by working as a teacher; however, the widespread poverty of Calcutta made a deep impression on her, and this led to her starting a new order called “The Missionaries of Charity”. The primary objective of this mission was to look after people in great need, who nobody else was prepared to take care of. Mother Teresa felt that serving others was a fundamental principle of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In her book “No Greater Love”, she wrote:

“It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving.”

and also:

“Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service .”

In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace” and she became a symbol of charitable and selfless work. After her death, Pope John Paul II began her process of beatification, which took place in October 2003, and in 2016 she was formally canonized as Saint Teresa.

Spreading a message of peace and love does not mean that you will be appreciated and supported by everybody. Love that breaks down the walls between human beings always disturbs the established order and threatens vested interests. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, two champions of love and non-violence, were assassinated. Mother Teresa did not die a violent death but she was regularly attacked by Hindu extremists who accused her of converting Hindu citizens under the guise of charitable work, medical assistance and school education.

Charity has always been a core activity of the Catholic Church and Mother Teresa has never sought to instrumentalize it to convert Hindus. Despite these internal ethical standards, a rising anti-Catholic and anti-Mother Teresa wave has been gaining momentum since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party BJP in 2014, and his subsequent reelection in 2019.

In the last few years, an increasing number of states in India have introduced laws that restrict conversion. The result of this is that the boundaries of faith have increasingly become the interest of the state.

At the end of December of last year, the Indian government blocked Mother Teresa’s charity from receiving funds from abroad, just days after it faced a police investigation for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments of Hindus” amid rising intolerance towards Christians in general in India.

The ban came less than two weeks after Hindu hardliners accused the charity of carrying out forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity in a home for girls it was running in the state of Gujarat.

A police report said “The girls inside the Home for Girls are being lured to adopt Christianity by making them wear the cross around their neck and also placing the Bible on the table of the storeroom used by the girls, in order to compel them to read the Bible … It is an attempted crime to force religious conversion upon the girls.”

Christian pastors have been attacked and church services violently disrupted in recent months as anti-Christian hysteria has grown. Over last Christmas there was an unprecedented spate of attacks against the Christian community, including the vandalising of a statue of Jesus Christ.

Charity can be a dangerous activity when it is carried out by a religious minority of foreign origin in an exacerbated nationalistic context.

Charity can disturb the established order and lead to all sorts of attacks. Trying to kill a movement financially is one of the means used by public powers, politicians and various people having vested interests as we have just seen with the ban of foreign funding for Mother Teresa’s charity. The Catholic Church is known to be a majority religion in many countries but it is a minority religion in India and Prime Minister Modi and Hindu extremists do not like it.

Another financial weapon against unwelcome religious or spiritual groups is the abusive taxation.

In the Indian state of Kerala, Catholic religious congregations are still challenging a state court’s order which years ago withdrew tax exemption that religious priests and nuns had been enjoying since 1944 for their commitment to the education of Indian children of all faiths. The Catholic educational staff has indeed taken a vow of poverty and does not take any salary for teaching in government-sponsored educational institutions. But the court in that Indian state has refused to accept their argument of volunteering that is beneficial to the Indian youth in all its diversity. The case there is now examined by the Supreme Court but other states are planning to take similar taxation measures.

In Taiwan, Tai Ji Men has developed a wide range of charity activities. Tens of thousands of dizi have been volunteering for several decades to make the world better and more humane with their message of love and peace transformed into concrete charity actions. But charity is not welcome either by everybody in Taiwan. For 25 years, Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen has been trying to destroy the Tai Ji Men movement because of personal financial interests and because he is career-driven.

In 2002, the Control Yuan, the nation’s top watchdog body, investigated the management of the Tai Ji Men case by Prosecutor Hou, accused him of abuse of authority and referred his case to the Justice Ministry for sanctions.

According to the Control Yuan’s report, Hou was guilty of

  • Initiating an investigation based on fabricated charges
  • Violating the principle of confidentiality during the investigation
  • Interrogating the defendants without prior notice to their attorneys as required by law
  • Treating the defendants improperly and rudely when interrogating them
  • Freezing the defendants’ assets without any evidence of illegal gains
  • Overstepping his authority by issuing letters on his own, requesting the dissolution of Tai Ji Men
  • Calling for the establishment of an association of alleged victims of Tai Ji Men, blindly siding with them and and failing to verify the credibility of their claims, hereby damaging his own image of an impartial law enforcement officer

These were very serious charges but for 25 years, this coup attempt against a charitable spiritual movement training generations of young people spending their time and their money to become good Taiwanese citizens and make Taiwanese society more humane has remained unpunished. The fight for justice needs to go on unabated in the Tai Ji Men case.

Photo credits: TJM

 





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1342

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 1342

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1343

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 1343

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1344

TAIWAN: The Tai Men Case comes from Taiwan to Brussels-EU

The Tai Men Case comes from Taiwan to Brussels-EU

HRWF (09.05.2022) – On 4 May 2022, at the Press Club Brussels-Europe, a seminar presented to an EU and international audience the case of Tai Ji Men, discriminated against in Taiwan.

 

Tai Ji Men is a menpai (similar to school) of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation, and its shifu (master) and dizi (disciple) have long been committed to international cultural exchanges, spreading the concepts of love, peace, and conscience, purifying people’s hearts, and practicing world peace. It has been highly praised by Taiwanese presidents, vice presidents, and foreign ministers.

 

Since its inception in 1966, Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy has never had any tax problem; however, in 1996, it was persecuted during a political purge in the name of a religious crackdown. Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen fabricated witnesses and evidence to falsely accuse Tai Ji Men of fraud and tax evasion.

 

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that Tai Ji Men was innocent of all charges and did not owe any taxes but the saga went on because the National Tax Bureau refused to fully apply the court decision and on 21 August 2020, the National Taxation Bureau, in cooperation with the Administrative Enforcement Agency, unlawfully auctioned Tai Ji Men’s land.

 

Conclusion of the seminar held on the day after World Press Freedom Day

 

In the first part of the event, a number of experts shared their perception of the injustice Tai Ji Men has been a victim of for 25 years.

 

In the second part, members of that movement testified about their own perception of this ordeal which has been part of their daily life for so many years.

 

“Yesterday, 3rd of May, was the World Press Freedom Day and lots of initiatives were taken everywhere to celebrate this Day. The zero press freedom in Russia to report about the invasion and the war in Ukraine shows how important it is to support bloggers, journalists and media outlets. Indeed, when freedom of expression is muzzled, there is a vacuum that a dictator can fill in with his propaganda to be accepted as THE truth, his truth.

 

Brave journalists risk their liberty and even their life to report freely and independently but there are also so-called journalists who willingly contribute to spread fake news because of monetary or ideological corruption, said Massimo Introvigne, former OSCE representative on combatting racism, xenophobia and discrimination. This is the case in the dictatorial regime of Vladimir Putin but it is also the case in democratic countries like France, Germany, Italy and even the US where peaceful and law-abiding religious and spiritual minorities have been raided by state armed forces with tragic consequences. In such countries police forces or magistrates have unofficially told media people about their unannounced upcoming crackdown on religious groups so that they send reporters and camera operators.

 

This is what also happened to Tai Ji Men in Taiwan in 1996 when Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen perpetuated this illegal practice. As a result, Tai Ji Men, its leaders and its members were demonized by media people whose biased shocking story-telling was just meant to increase the sale of their newspapers but indirectly they also served the interests of the State which wanted to stigmatize Tai Ji Men and find some sort of public justification of its operation.

 

As a conclusion of his presentation, Massimo Introvigne said “As we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day, we should tell journalists that we are here to defend their freedom, but we cannot defend them against their own personal corruption.”

 

Marco Respinti paid a vibrant tribute to US Senator Orrin Hatch who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 88. His two main interests were the fight for religious liberty and against abuses of the tax administration targeting religious and spiritual movements. Senator Hatch was well aware that leaks from state officials to the media did not happen by coincidence but were an attempt by some tax bureaucrats to damage certain movements for ideological or political reasons. He reminded the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that nobody, even a powerful tax agency, is above the law. In his mind, tax reform and the defense of freedom of religion or belief were inseparable.

 

The testimonies of the dizi are always very precious for the debate in our webinars.

 

Susan Liu

 

Susan Liu, an international hotel staff, stressed that Prosecutor Hou violated the investigation’s non-disclosure rule and continued to leak biased news to the media, with more than 400 sensational serial reports (an average of 3-4 per day during the investigation period), and more than 70 broadcasts by 12 TV stations, creating a negative perception of our case by public opinion. The TV news and print media reports have caused anxiety in Taiwanese society as well as great harm to their Shifu and the Tai Ji Men dizis. The media at that time did not verify the news about TJM, nor did they make balanced reports, she said. They just reported whatever information the prosecutors gave them without checking it. This is not ethical journalism, she said.

 

Joanne Dai

 

Joanne Dai, an educator, recalled that three reports on the Tai Ji Men case had been submitted by a French NGO, CAP/ Conscience et Liberté, to the United Nations, warning that taxes are often used as a weapon of discrimination against minority religion and spiritual groups. This has become a global issue and one that the human rights community should be aware of, she said.

 

Yawen Chen

 

Yawen Chen focused on the breaches of the laws by Prosecutor Hou and the NTB committed which were officially identified.

 

The Control Yuan, the inspection arm of Taiwan’s government, indicated in its 2002 report eight major violations of law by Prosecutor Hou. In 2009, the Control Yuan carried out another investigation on the NTB in relation to their misconducts for handling Tai Ji Men case. Seven instances of serious misconduct were found.

 

Despite these thorough reports, no Directors, officers or prosecutor was penalised by any disciplinary actions.

 

Sonia Wang

Sonia Wang, a senior High School Teacher, said that according to the report on World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders in 2021, China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Djibouti, and Vietnam have the worst press freedom in the world.

 

The top countries are Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Costa Rica; in Asia, South Korea ranked 42, ranking first and Taiwan ranked 43.

 

While Taiwan’s journalism industry is less oppressed, she said, it is easy to polarize the news environment for profit. This indicates that Taiwanese media still has room for improvement in balancing reporting and monitoring power, she concluded.

 

Ajong Tseng

 

Ajong Tseng, a live streamer, stressed that the Taiwanese media is greatly influenced by political and commercial interests.  Many editors and media reporters lack independent thinking and are often moved by political purposes.  As a result, facts and truth are covered up and the views of the public are manipulated by the media. This has quite a negative impact on freedom, democracy, and human rights in Taiwan.

 

To thwart this trend in the Taiwanese media, Ajong Tseng created, with others, a media public service channel on a social platform to debunk the fake news about Tai Ji Men and publish the true facts.

 

Yin Liu

 

Yin Liu, the managing director of a biotechnology company, recalled that in 1996, the Taiwanese government carried out a political purge in the name of cracking down on cults that had allegedly committed crimes. Tai Ji Men was on the blacklist of the government although it had not violated any law.

 

At that time, the internet was only in its infancy. TV and print media were the major information sources for most people. For this reason, when Tai Ji Men was demonized by the government and the media, tens of thousands of Tai Ji Men dizi and their families were also vilified, stigmatized and discriminated against in society. I can still remember, he said, that when I was dressed in my Tai Ji Men uniform and walking through the streets, there were always people looking at me and commenting negatively.”

 

He also remembers that a friend working in the Ministry of Justice had told his parents that they were on their investigation list.”

 

Further reading: Press coverage in Brussels

 

The Tai Ji Men Case comes from Taiwan to Belgium

Tai Ji Men: Abusive taxation and denial of justice in Taiwan

Abusive Taxation and Denial of Justice in the Tai Ji Men Case in Taiwan

The Tai Ji Men Case and European Values: A Test for Democratic Taiwan

 

Photo credits: EU Today





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1342

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 1342

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1343

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 1343

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1344

TAIWAN: The UN Int’l Day of Fraternity and the Tai Ji Men Case

The UN International Day of Fraternity and the Tai Ji Men Case

By Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (11.02.2022) –Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, or in English, “liberty, equality, fraternity” is the national motto of the French Republic. Although it finds its origin in the 1789 French Revolution, it was not institutionalized until the end of the 19th century in France.

 

It is only in 2021 that for the first time the UN commemorated the cherished value of fraternity with a special focus on religious and inter-religious tolerance.

 

On December 21, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed in Resolution 75/200 February 4th as “International Day of Human Fraternity.”

 

This resolution, which was co-sponsored by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reaffirmed in its first paragraph the importance granted to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

In its second paragraph, it recalled Resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981 proclaiming the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.”

 

The celebration of the International Day of Fraternity is therefore clearly rooted in the freedom of religion or belief, but why the date of 4th February.

 

The choice of this date was justified by the historical meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib three years ago on February 4th, 2019. During this meeting, the two religious leaders signed a document titled, Human fraternity for world peace and living together.” That day now kicks off World Interfaith Harmony Week, which has been celebrated during the first week in February since 2010.

 

Observing an International Day of Human Fraternity is needed now more than ever before, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today. There is deep concern regarding acts that advocate religious hatred and, thereby, undermine the spirit of tolerance and respect for diversity. Humankind is plagued non only by the COVID 19 but also by the contagious virus of hate, discrimination and racism.  

The antidote or best antibodies to hate is human fraternity, which embodies compassion, mutual respect, unity, solidarity and renewed multilateral cooperation. 

In these difficult times we need to recognize the valuable contribution of people of all faiths or beliefs to humanity.  Dialogue among all religious groups can greatly improve awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.

The teachings of Dr Hong and Tai Ji Men underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions or beliefs and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression. Education of the youth in the framework of Tai Ji Men contributes in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.

They encourage activities aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue in order to enhance peace and social stability, respect for diversity and mutual respect.

Love and peace are at the core of Tai Ji Men’s values. Such a culture encourages attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviour and ways of life based on Resolution 53/243 titled “Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” adopted by the UN General Assembly on 6 October 1999. This Resolution, which is the compass of Tai Ji Men, makes a number of recommendations which should find a large echo in the ears of the Taiwanese authorities and the Taiwanese population due to the geo-political situation of their country and due to the unsolved denial of justice imposed on Tai Men for 25 years. These recommendations provide, among other things:

  • Full respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of States and non-intervention in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State;
  • Full respect for and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • Commitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts;
  • Adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding at all levels of society and among nations;
  • Respect for and promotion of equal rights and opportunities
  • Respect for life, ending of violence, promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation;
  • Respect for and promotion of the right of everyone to freedom of expression, opinion and information.

In their relations with Dr Hong and his wife, with Tai Ji Men and with the dizi, the Taiwanese authorities should be able to recognize the added value of their contribution to the well-being of the Taiwanese society and where there is still an urgent deficit to be made up when confronting their practices with the UN recommendations.

 

Photo credits: CESNUR & HRWF





Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1342

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 1342

Notice: Undefined index: et_header_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1343

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 1343

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1344

TAIWAN: Corruption, human rights and the Tai Ji Men case

Corruption, human rights and the Tai Ji Men case

 

Contribution of Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

By Willy Fautré

 

HRWF (12.13.2021) – On the eve of the International Anti-Corruption Day, jointly commemorated by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers in Washington DC, I will address the following issues in my presentation:

 

  • the definition of corruption,
  • the negative impact of corruption on human rights,
  • how to combat corruption
  • combatting corruption related to the Tai Ji Men case.

 

First surprise: There is no universally agreed definition of corruption, nor does the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) feature one. According to a definition that is often quoted by civil society and EU institutions, corruption is ‘the abuse of (entrusted) power for private gain’.

 

Second surprise: Neither international human rights treaties nor the Convention against Corruption explicitly define corruption as a violation of human rights. Yet interpretations of these legally binding texts as well as other guiding international documents increasingly link corruption to human rights.

 

The negative impact of corruption on human rights

 

Corruption is recognised as an obstacle to sustainable development in all its dimensions and has a harmful impact on human rights, such as equal access to justice, protection of fundamental freedoms and non-discrimination, especially in the case of poor and vulnerable people.

 

In addition, corruption ‘undermines the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has a negative impact on peace, stability, security, the rule of law, gender equality and the environment.

 

The need to reinforce international efforts against corruption stems from the gravity of the issue in today’s world. All UN member states, except six of them, have already ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). This is the only legally binding international anti-corruption treaty, which has been in force since 2005 but various organisations point out that serious implementation gaps persist.

 

The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) highlights that all forms of corruption can have a serious negative impact on human rights but also the rule of law and democratic practices. Judicial corruption limits the right to a fair trial and remedy, and can encourage related abuses such as extrajudicial detention and torture. Corruption represents a big obstacle to socio-economic development, as it blocks immense resources from being used to promote socio-economic rights, such as the right to an adequate standard of living, education, or health care. Moreover, corruption, erodes the quality of governance and public trust.

 

How to fight against corruption

 

In several resolutions on the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights, the UN Human Rights Council emphasises the importance of a preventive approach to corruption with a focus on:

 

  • safeguarding the human rights of vulnerable persons;
  • ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society;
  • providing anti-corruption education;
  • and fostering cooperation between national anti-corruption authorities and national human rights institutions.

 

The 2019 Oslo Statement prepared by over 140 experts recommended, among other things, that additional research be carried out on the impact of corruption, involving a vast quantity of assets (VQA), on global peace and security, human rights, climate and biodiversity.

 

From the judicial point of view, the causal relationship between corruption and human rights violations may not sufficiently be clear as it is not always possible to consider an act of corruption as a human rights violation that could be invoked in a court of law.

 

The International Council on Human Rights Policy (ICHRP) – an independent expert forum – maintains that to apply the human rights framework in a legally effective way, it is necessary to distinguish whether corrupt practices violate a human right directly or indirectly or whether no causal link can in practice be established.

 

To better integrate a human-rights law perspective into actions against corruption, international bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have advocated a human rights-based approach  to corruption. This approach would be complementary to the criminal law approach, which treats corruption as a criminal offence. It would focus on the individual victims of corruption on prevention and remedy. According to the UNODC, ‘the criminal justice approach assumes that the State (and the public it represents) has been harmed by acts of corruption committed by individuals.

 

The human rights-based approach focuses attention on how the State has breached its obligations towards the public by failing to protect it from corruption, and on the need for the provision of remedies by the State’.

 

Conversely, respect for human rights in general, and in particular freedom of expression, assembly and association and the right to information can have a strong preventive effect on corruption. According to the World Bank governance indicators (2019), countries that perform well with regard to political participation rights while also ensuring freedom of expression, of association and of the media tend also to do well in combatting corruption.

 

Combatting corruption related to the Tai Ji Men case

 

I will first come back to the definition of corruption largely used by civil society and EU institutions: corruption is ‘the abuse of (entrusted) power for private gain’.

 

It is obvious that in Taiwan there are abuses by the administrative power for private gain.

 

What is at stake here is the system of bonuses which viciously leads to the over-collection of taxes and even the fabrication of tax evasion taxes. This is an abuse of power for private financial gain.

 

If the tax income collected for this year does not meet the expected amount, the staff member’s performance score will be low, and he or she will not receive a tax collection bonus.

 

As a result, individuals in high positions will encourage their employees to collect more taxes in order to improve their performance score and be eligible for a promotion.

 

The objective is purely financial benefit, private gain. The beneficiaries of this rotten system are the Ministry of Finance, the National Tax Bureau and the Enforcement Agency. However, this bonus system which is a product of the martial law era has no legal basis but a fund is budgeted for this system every year.

 

Businesses are often coerced by tax officers to pay some unjustified taxes, and some tax officers would even conduct malicious tax audits for the sake of bonuses. Many people don’t owe any tax, but the Enforcement Agency would forcibly auction their property. Moreover, issuing a ‘wrong’ tax bill is not punishable

 

Former Control Yuan member Qian Lin Huijun once said in our webinar, “The bonus system should have been abolished long ago because bonuses provide an incentive to be greedy. Public servants are paid by the public money, they must work properly according to their conscience.”

 

The case of Tai Ji Men, for example, was listed by the Control Yuan in 2005 as one of the major human rights protection cases in the “General Report and the Work of Human Rights Protection of the Control Yuan (1999-2005).”

 

The case of Tai Ji Men shows that the system of tax bonuses granted to public servants can lead to undue fiscal and judicial harassment for years and decades.

 

It also proves that this system is a form of organized corruption inside state and an abuse of power of their leaders and their staff for personal financial benefit.

 

In conclusion, Human Rights Without Frontiers recommends

 

  • a reform in the Taiwanese judicial system, especially the administrative litigation system;
  • the annulment of the bonus system as it creates incentives that can lead to undue fiscal and judicial harassment in total impunity;
  • sanctions against those in state administrations and the judiciary who are found to be negligent or to have abused their power.

 

Willy Fautré, 6 December 2021

 

Photo credits: International Forum for Human Rights


Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1392

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 1392

Notice: Undefined index: et_footer_layout in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1393

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 1393

Notice: Undefined index: et_template in /home/hrwfe90/domains/hrwf.eu/public_html/wp-content/plugins/pdf-print/pdf-print.php on line 1394