Tai Ji Men is a Taiwan based Menpai – similar to a school – of Qigong (an ancient Chinese practice which involves using exercises to optimise energy within the body, mind, and spirit), martial arts, and self-cultivation, with the goal of improving and maintaining health and well-being.
It is committed to “international cultural exchanges, spreading the concepts of love, peace, and conscience, purifying people’s hearts, and practicing world peace.”
Founded in 1966, it operated without problems, and had indeed received praise from Taiwan’s presidents and other senior politicians!
The in 1996, however, as part of a religious crackdown, Tai Ji Men was accused of fraud and tax evasion.
As a result, substantial tax demands were issued retrospectively, and property was seized.
Allegations made against Tai Ji Men were subsequently found to be fraudulent. Tax demands had been based on personal donations received, which were, in fact exempt taxation.
In 2007 the National Tax Bureau (NTB) was found to have committed seven major violations of the law in its handling of the case. The Supreme Court ruled that Tai Ji Men was innocent of all charges, and a number of individuals involved were granted compensation for unlawful imprisonment.
On May 5th, a high level conference at the Press Club, Brussels, under the auspices of co-founder and director of the NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers, Willy Fautré, was convened to discuss the current situation, to call for return of land, the cancellation of the remaining tax demands, and restoration of the reputations of leading Tai Ji Men figures.
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, formerly OSCE representative on combatting racism, xenophobia and discrimination, and keynote speaker at the conference, told EU Today that Tai Je Min has had all its tax bills cancelled – with the exception of that of 1992 – however the value of land seized remains at approximately €3 billion.
Rosita Šorytė, Lithuanian diplomat and president of the International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees, has a great deal of experience in foreign affairs. She has for some years been urging the Taiwanese government to cancel the unjustified tax bill and return the unlawfully confiscated land to Tai Ji Men.
Taiwan needs international support all the time, and this unjust case is severely harming Taiwan’s international reputation.
In answer to a question on why the media tend to instinctively believe negative stories about religious movements – often labelling them as “cults” – she suggested this may be a “fear of the new,” and that in such as context negativity becomes a “default position” for many.
She also postulated that people will often look for conspiracy theories as a comfortable substitute for that which they do not themselves understand.
It was also suggested that in many, if not most, countries, bureaucrats expect religions to be supportive of the government.
Tai Ji Men has, however, been critical of Taiwan’s democratic integrity, but this is in the context of a state that only saw its first democratically elected President as recently as 1996. It was at this point that the new government begin its crackdown on religious groups.
During the conference, Tai Ji Men delegates were supported by interventions from practitioners of other religious groups which have themselves been subject to persecution. It was agreed by delegates during the conference and during private discussions, that religious persecution is on the rise globally.
Tai Ji Men Academy: http://www.taijimen.org/TJM201…
Human Rights Without Frontiers: https://hrwf.eu
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