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.