TAIWAN: Tai Ji Men dizi testify

Presentation at the 24 March webinar “The UN Day of the Right to Truth on Human Rights Violations: The Tai Ji Men Case in Comparative Perspective” (Excerpts)

 

Rebecca Wang, Assistant System Coordinator, Technology Company

 

“It’s been more than two years since I graduated from college, and now I’m working in the technology industry. I am a Tai Ji Men dizi as well. My father took me to Tai Ji Men when I was one year old. All of my family practice qigong with our shifu, Dr. Hong Tao Tze.”

 

“I was one-year-old when the Tai Ji Men fake case happened. It was not until I grew up that I realized how much pressure and discrimination were against us. Some of the people were mocked by their teachers and classmates at school; some were roared by pedestrians when going for a dinner; some even lost their jobs, who were the breadwinners in the family. Nonetheless, our shifu still told us to love this country and to insist on doing the right things. We are so willing to pay the tax but only the tax that should be paid. On the other hand, we could not pay the tax that shouldn’t be paid.”

 

“Nylon Cheng, who promoted democracy and freedom of speech in Taiwan, once said: ‘Ignoring the suffering from the underprivileged is the persecution of human rights.’ In the past 25 years, we never retreated. With the insistence of the truth, we hope to encourage those victims whose human rights are violated.”

 

 

Samuel Kuo, Senior Project Manager, AMA Project

 

“I am a dizi for the Tai Ji Men qigong academy, where I practice the highest level of qigong and martial arts.”

 

“Governments should conduct administration pursuant to the law. They should be fair, and just, and rule without wrongful punishment of the people. Furthermore, Government officials are expected to carry out their civil service duties without corruption, power abuse and violations. This is the spirit of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as formally defined in the ICCPR and ICESCR. ICCPR also known as The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which was implemented in force from 23 March 1976, exactly 45 years ago, the day before today! The Tai Ji Men Tax Case is a flagrant disrespect of the law!”




TAIWAN: The right to truth is truth for every person

Presentation at the 24 March webinar “The UN Day of the Right to Truth on Human Rights Violations: The Tai Ji Men Case in Comparative Perspective”

 

HRWF (02.04.2021) – Today I am very honored to join in the United Nation’s Day, the day for the truth concerning gross human right violation and for the dignity of victims.

 

The day for the truth, the core is to protect those who seek the truth and justice, providing active remedies to victims and to restore their dignity.

 

The right to the truth is truth for every person. The right to know the truth usually arises in the event of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. Victims of executions, enforced disappearances and torture, as well as families of missing persons and children trafficked by children, have the right to know what happened to them. The right to know the truth means a full understanding of all aspects of the truth, the specific environment that participated in the concentration, including an understanding of the situation in which the violence occurred and why it occurred.

Now this day of the United Nations has the goal to make transitional justice. We have the strategy for the transitional justice: To remember this day of human right to the truth and recognition of human right victims in Taiwan and in all the countries in the transition from violence to peace we are all in a great challenge to transit from injustice to justice, from political lies to truth, from human right violations to protection of human dignity, from conflict to peace, from social alienation to reconciliation.

 

But today we still confront a (the) greatest human right violation in Taiwan 25 years ago, the R.O.C. government had prosecuted Tai Ji Men and confiscates and robs more than 50 pieces of lands of Tai Ji Men. The live internet broadcast had attracted more than millions audience island wide audiences. I am the one who personally join the protest before the Ministry of Justice, the office for confiscation Enforcement.

I respect Tai Ji Men. Tai Ji Men is not depressed, and Tai Ji Men will never give up to fight for the justice and its human right of property and religious freedom of human right. Now what we must do? We must inquire and require the government to return the confiscated properties.

In this case, the Justice means:

– we have (to) put criminal prosecution to Hou Kuan-Jen

– we had required the ministry of Justice and its prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen to apologize for its illegal prosecution against Tai Ji Men

-R.O.C. Government has to return the illegal confiscation of the more than 50 pieces of land

– We had to require the truth seeking and recognition of victims of Tai Ji Men

-The government and its human right committee has to investigate and set up a truth seeking institution.

 

It means, it is a long way of justice for people in Taiwan and the members of Tai Ji Men. We compare the 228 massacre (in Taiwan) and the tax persecution 228 against Tai Ji Men because these two cases have the same structure:

 

In both tragedies, only victims are prosecuted, perpetrators were never punished.

 

There’s no official seeking the truth from the side of government

There’s no recovery and no recognition of victims.

There’s no compensation to Tai Ji Men.

There’s no reconciliation.

 

It means, it brings the consequences (that):

 

– If the perpetrators of human right violations are not to be held accountable, the violations will never end (but) will continue.

– If the severe violations are not be enlightened with truth seeking and truth documentation, there will be no true and fair judiciary.

– If the control Yuan does not investigate and give to the TJM victims the compensation and the return of their property, the ministry and the government of R.O.C. will become robbers and will not be trusted any more and not be respected by all the people in Taiwan.

-And Taiwan people will not tolerance the situation of lies and state crimes from the side of the Government.

 

In the case of Tai Ji Men, we must awake all the people in Taiwan, to bring the enlightenment to our society. So to know the whole truth, to seek the truth is very important for us, and I personally know Tai Ji Men, they are right now, they are not depressed. You know, Tai Ji Men is right now the biggest human right movement in Taiwan. They try to make ta taxation and legal reform. The legal reform and institutional reform is very important for transitional justice. Transitional justice means in the core justice that every person has to look after justice. We have to make justice realize in Taiwan.

 

Today is the day for the truth, the day to seek the truth, the day to bring the dignity to Tai Ji Men. We all wish that our government can hear the voice of our people. They can hear the voice who are looking for justice, looking for peace and looking for the trust between the government and the people. I think the biggest, greatest human right movement will be started by Tai Ji Men and our reform group.

 

So today I am very happy, I encourage the government, I encourage also every person in Taiwan. We must be brave, we will not give up, we will look for the compensation, we will require the government to return the property of Tai Ji Men. We will become the bravery fighter for human right and justice in Taiwan.

 

We have to start to seek the truth, and the truth and justice for every person in Taiwan.

 

Thank you!




TAIWAN: An American citizen testifies testifies about Tai Ji Men

Presentation at the 24 March webinar “The UN Day of the Right to Truth on Human Rights Violations: The Tai Ji Men Case in Comparative Perspective”

By Michael Selfridge, Director of Communication of an International Peace Organization

 

Around the world, the United States is renowned for its interest in tax justice. After all, we famously rebelled against England due to their unjust tax policies. As a US citizen, I consider myself within that cohort.

 

As a Caucasian living in the United States, some people may be surprised that I am interested in studying qigong at Tai Ji Men from Dr Hong.

 

Prior to joining Tai Ji Men, I had read a bit about qigong and it sounded like an interesting form of martial arts. The academy was convenient, and it seemed a good opportunity to learn qigong. Upon entering the academy, I met many helpful and kind members that are supportive of Dr. Hong’s advocacy of self-improvement emphasizing a balance of physical exercises in the form of qigong and mentally through meditation, self-reflection and the application of “heart gong-fu” or conscience.

 

In my experience, Dr. Hong has dedicated his life to caring for the wellbeing of every Tai Ji Men member, the role he takes is “shifu” a combination of teacher and father and he lives up to this ideal.

 

Dr. Hong also emphasizes that we are all world citizens. He invited me and other members to join him in traveling the world, spreading his message of peace and conscience. I have been very fortunate to have traveled with Dr. Hong to five continents and have met with numerous heads of states and ambassadors.

 

I share Dr. Hong’s view that we are all world citizens and as a key principle of martial arts is to stop conflict. In the realm of international diplomacy, in a non-governmental capacity, we emphasize the application of conscience to resolve conflicts and improve the lives of all world citizens. We also enter into dialogs with heads of state, sharing perspectives on peacefully resolving conflicts. After talking to Dr. Hong, multiple world leaders have taken direct actions to stop wars.

 

It has been one of the greatest privileges in my life to aid Dr. Hong in this mission.

I recall a couple years ago during a meeting at the United Nations, I engaged in a conversation with a representative from China, one of the topics that I brought up was Xi Jinping’s suspension of presidential term limits, enabling him to become president for life, however I recall that the conversation migrated to Taiwan’s taxation policy.

 

I want to say I have a deep admiration for many aspects of Taiwan and have visited the country many times. Taiwan has a vibrant democracy, a world-renowned health care system, and the citizenry is exceptionally kind and polite. When China was closed to the world, Taiwan was known as a great place to do business, and the nation prospered, but now China is on the ascent and Taiwan needs allies.

 

Two years ago, I recall meeting Su Jia-Chuan, who at the time was serving as the head of the Taiwan legislature while having dinner with the President of Kiribati, Taneti Mamau during the country’s Independence Day celebrations. Of course, that was before Kiribati restored relations with China and Taiwan lost an ally. We all know, given the chance, China would isolate Taiwan from the world to the same degree that North Korea is isolated from the world. Taiwan needs allies.

 

I want to endorse Taiwan to business connections, I want to endorse Taiwan to any of the numerous national presidents I’ve met, or the countless ambassadors, but I can’t.

 

You might be wondering why that is. It’s because, despite Taiwan’s vibrant democracy, the national tax agency, with its tremendous taxing authority is among the most corrupt in the world. The tax agents get promotions and bonuses for issuing illegal tax notices, despite being ordered by the executive yuan, legislative yuan, control yuan and supreme court to dismiss illegal tax bills, the Tai Ji Men tax bills remain even after 25 years. Just last year, the Taiwan tax authority violated a court order and sold off real estate belonging to Tai Ji Men, shattering Dr. Hong’s plans to build an international peace complex and qi gong academy.

 

How can I possibly recommend anyone to ally with Taiwan, when a corrupt tax authority is completely unaccountable to any of the branches of government and does not respect democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

 

At this time, Taiwan needs allies and that is why the government must assert control over the corrupt tax authority and the first step must be to cease the illegal tax actions against Tai Ji Men.




TAIWAN: From the Bachang River scandal to the Tai Ji Men scandal

Presentation at the 24 March webinar “The UN Day of the Right to Truth on Human Rights Violations: The Tai Ji Men Case in Comparative Perspective”

 

By Bor-Hwang Ni, Associate Professor, Department of Public Finance, China University of Technology

 

In 2000, there was a tragedy in Taiwan, where four workers were trapped in the Bachang River when a flash flood hit. They clung onto each other, waiting for rescue. This happened in Chiayi County. The local fire department said that it was under the jurisdiction of the central government, which had two rescue units. One was the National Army Search and Rescue Center, which advised them to call the Air Police Department in charge of rescue missions within 2,500 meters above sea level. The Air Police Department in Taichung claimed that it was too far away from Chiayi while the Rescue Center said its helicopter had to warm up for 15 minutes before it could fly, and then it would be after sunset and unsafe to fly. Because the government agencies dodged their duties, the four people were swept away by the flood and lost their precious lives. Through TV broadcast, viewers saw it all. This incident caused the vice president of the Executive Yuan to step down and many to be punished. It also aroused strong public criticism of the government. This incident was called the Bachang River incident.

 

The Tai Ji Men scandal

 

In August 2020, Tai Ji Men’s land intended for a future academy site was illegally auctioned and confiscated by the government. On the eve of the auction, many experts, scholars, and NGOs voiced their support for Tai Ji Men, demanding the government to stop the auction because the Supreme Court’s decision and the Control Yuan’s two investigations had already confirmed this is a case of injustice and that Tai Ji Men and its leader did not owe any tax. The National Taxation Bureau even admitted that it had misinterpreted the nature of Tai Ji Men and mistaken it for a cram school.

 

In accordance with Articles 117 and 128 of the Administrative Procedure Act and Article 40 of the Tax Collection Act, the tax bureau can make a correction and end the unjust case. However, it failed to do so; instead, it asked the Administrative Enforcement Agency to comply with the third clause of Article 9 of the Administrative Enforcement Act to stop the enforcement.

 

The Enforcement Agency knew it was an unjust case and the tax collection was not justified, but it failed to stop the enforcement according to the law and its authority. Instead, it claimed that it was the tax bureau that should revoke the enforcement order. The higher authorities of the tax bureau and the Enforcement Agency were also to blame for neglecting their supervisory duty.

 

In fact, since the start of the Tai Ji Men case, in addition to seeking judicial and tax relief in accordance with the regulations, Tai Ji Men has also made nearly 1,000 petitions to relevant agencies and officials, including the president and the five Yuans.

 

However, those who accepted the petitions were either indifferent to the petitions, or the petitions were finally forwarded to the tax bureau, the agency that illegally issued the tax bills. In the formal replies Tai Ji Men obtained, the tax bureau falsely claimed that it “performed its duty according to law” or claimed that the Tai Ji Men dizi (disciples) were not the parties concerned and refused to handle the petitions.

 

However, the gifts given by the dizi to Dr. Hong represented their concurring with Dr. Hong’s ideas and the embodiment of freedom of religious belief. However, the gifts were falsely claimed by the tax bureau as tuition for a cram school. This has distorted the expression of their intentions and infringed on their basic human rights. How could the tax bureau say that they were not the parties concerned?

 

In addition, starting from 2010, rain or shine, Tai Ji Men dizi have carried out tax reform activities on Ketagalan Boulevard for 10 years. Before the auction, they had petitioned and protested in front of the Enforcement Agency and the Ministry of Finance for over 30 days, and they continued to do so on the eve of the auction. However, they did not receive any positive response from any official. The government’s indifference and ruthlessness to the Tai Ji Men case led to the illegal auction of the land intended for a future Tai Ji Men academy.

 

This is a replica of the Bachang River incident. In this case, the tax bureau and the Enforcement Agency direct the flood to drown the people and submerge Taiwan’s democracy and rule of law, so the Tai Ji Men case is like the Bachang River incident in taxation.

 

Freedom of expression impeded

 

After Tai Ji Men’s land was illegally auctioned, the Legal and Tax Reform League organized events to voice their support for Tai Ji Men, exercising their right to freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the police illegally checked the identifications of the volunteers for the League at the events. An elderly female volunteer was quietly standing on the roadside holding a sign and expressing her views rationally, which did not constitute intimidation, harm to reputation, or violation of the Personal Information Protection Act. This was confirmed later in the prosecutor’s statement. However, she was taken to the police station and questioned until late into night without any justified reason, and the prosecutor even imposed residence restriction on her. That undoubtedly was to create a chilling effect to suppress the people’s freedom of speech.

 

Abuse of power in total impunity

 

Over the past 25 years, from the beginning of the Tai Ji Men tax case to the illegal auction of the property, we have seen a series of abuse and illegal use of power by government officials. Tai Ji Men was suppressed, and the human rights violations had never stopped because the officials who broke the law, abused their power, and violated the people’s human rights were never punished.

 

For example, prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen was required by the Control Yuan to be severely punished but has not been disciplined. He has been promoted to deputy director-general of the Agency Against Corruption. Chang Sheng-ford, Hsu Yu-che, and Ling Chung-yuan, who once served as directors-general of the National Taxation Bureau, were suspected of forging documents and hiding evidence.

 

Chang Sheng-ford and Hsu Yu-che were even promoted to ministers of finance. After leaving office, Hsu Yu-che served as the chairman of a government-linked company, earning an annual salary of over NT$ 1 million. Ling Chung-yuan was promoted to director-general of the National Treasury Administration and is now the chairperson of the board of directors of a government-linked bank, earning over NT$ 1 million a year as well.

 

This showed that Taiwan failed to provide effective remedies for its people, as required by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

 

The violators were not punished, nor had they apologized for their wrongdoings. In addition, the bonus reward system has encouraged those officials to break the laws and violate human rights.

 

I work in the field of taxation education. I’m also a Tai Ji Men dizi. I deeply feel that it is my duty to come forward to expose the unlawful acts of government officials in the Tai Ji Men case, as well as the problems of the legal and tax systems in Taiwan, because this is a matter of justice. I am calling on the government to take on a courageous and responsible attitude to rectify the unjust case, clear the name of Tai Ji Men, and ensure the human rights protected by the Constitution and the international human rights covenants.




TAIWAN: Tax justice as social justice (International Webinar by CESNUR and HRWF)

Oral presentation at a webinar co-organized by Cesnur and HRWF

 

By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers

 

HRWF (20.02.2021) – The title of this conference is quite appropriate on this U.N. Day of Social Justice for enlightening the never-ending fight of Tai Ji Men for Justice.  All the speakers who have preceded me have abundantly illustrated this reality that social justice includes tax justice.

For almost 25 years, Tai Ji Men has been fighting in Taiwanese courts against false accusations of tax evasion, started by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen, who has misused his judicial power to fabricate the case.

 

In April 1997, Dr Hong Tao-tze, the founder of the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy, was indicted by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-jen for tax evasion. It took him ten years to be declared non guilty. He was acquitted of all the charges on final appeal in July 2007.

 

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

  1. Violating the principle of confidentiality during the investigation.
  2. Initiating an investigation based on a false examination
  3. Freezing the defendants’ assets without any evidence of illegal gains
  4. Overstepping his authority by issuing letters on his own requesting the dissolution of Tai Ji Men and the disconnection of water and electricity to Tai Ji Men
  5. Failing to use scientific evidence to investigate the case
  6. Interrogating the defendants without prior notice to the defendants’ attorneys as required by law
  7. Calling for the establishment of a self-help association and failing to investigate or verify the claims of the self-help association in accordance with his authority, thereby damaging the image of a prosecutor as an impartial law enforcement officer
  8. The prosecutor treated the defendants improperly and rudely when interrogating them.

These were very serious charges.

 

The Ministry of Justice took a lot of time to investigate Prosecutor Hou’s case and we can reasonably suspect that it was on purpose. Indeed, this investigation could not be closed until 2010. The Ministry of Justice then concluded that Prosecutor Hou could not be punished because according to the law, the ten-year statute of limitations for disciplinary actions had allegedly expired in June 2007. In fact, from October 2007 to March 2008, the High Prosecutors Office summoned Dr. and Mrs. Hong as well as Tai Ji Men dizi four times to investigate the violations of the law by Prosecutor Hou Kuan-Jen, which shows that the statute of limitations for taking disciplinary actions against Hou did not expire in June 2007,  but the Ministry of Justice claimed otherwise.

 

On this Day of Social Justice, this denial of justice needed to be recalled and put back on the radar of the organizations which monitor the state of health of democracy and human rights around the world.

 

Several international experts decided to participate in the commemoration of the Day of Social Justice in Taiwan by bringing their support and their encouragement to the shifu (master) and all the dizi(disciples) who have been fighting during that long crusade for justice in the last 25 years.

 

Massimo Introvigne, editor-in-chief of Bitter Winter, first shared some inspiring thoughts about the emergence of an enlarged concept of social justice, including a wide range of vulnerable groups such as religious and spiritual minorities which are arbitrarily persecuted by bureaucrats or institutions with vested interests. He then introduced several dizi who shared their experience with Tai Ji Men. They told about the benefits they experienced from the teachings of Tai Ji Men in their personal and professional lives but also how much they suffered in their souls, in their minds and in their flesh from the persecution of Tai Ji Men. You have heard their courageous testimonies. These are inspiring, moving but also painful stories.

 

A book titled “Who Stole Their Youth?” has just been published. It is an invaluable source of information about the magnitude of the damage caused to Tai Ji Men and the dizi by evil forces because they chose to follow their conscience. Fighting for Justice is the right fight.

 

Karolina Maria Hess, from the University of Silesia in Katowice, stressed that while the freedom of conscience bill in Poland guarantees equality of religious and non-religious citizens, various communities are discriminated against in terms of legal status and taxation.

 

The Catholic church enjoys a privileged status with exorbitant tax exemptions and also uses its power to prevent new religious movements to be recognized as religious entities with tax advantages. The only option is then to register as a civil association but without any tax breaks, which only deepens the inequality.

 

Raffaella di Marzio, from LIREC in Italy, stressed that the power to tax involves the power to destroy. When a government doesn’t like a spiritual or religious organization it could try to destroy it using the power to tax and this is the case with Tai Ji Men, she said.

 

However, she added that “When a government decides that an organization has a purpose that ought to be promoted, can provide a valuable service to society, but will not be, if burdened by the normal incidence of taxation, it may grant a tax exemption in order to foster the valued activity.”

 

In democratic countries, the exemption from taxes enjoyed by religious organisations is a recognised principle and as Taiwan is recognized by the international community of nations as a democratic country, it has this power to correct a case of misuse of the judicial power.

 

Mario Marinov, professor at the South-West Neofit-Rilski University in Blagoevgrad, detailed the evolution of the financial relations between the state and churches in Bulgaria.

 

He stressed that religious groups can contribute to a positive development of the tax system, saying about Bulgaria “The Evangelical churches are active in the proposal of changes in the tax laws, which would make it possible for individuals who donate money to religious organizations to save on taxes over their donations.”

 

Dr. Ching-Chin Wu and David Lin must be hailed for their very strong and very well documented statements from a legal point of view about the outrageous, but unpunished, violations of the rule of law in the taxation case of Tai Ji Men.

 

Tai Ji Men’s battle is not only for Tai Ji Men and its dizi. It is a battle for social justice for all the Taiwanese, for Taiwanese society and for the image of Taiwan on the international scene.

 

Tai Ji Men’s voice and deeds have attracted many Taiwanese experts in legal and political matters as well as other victims of social injustice. Tai Ji Men is at the forefront of a civil movement for social justice that now goes far beyond its members and sympathizers as it concerns a wide range of victims across the country.

 

The consciences of those who in the Taiwanese society thirst for righteousness and social justice have been awakened and will not fade out any more.

 

I thank you for your attention.