On the occasion of the Justice Day celebrated in Taiwan on 11 January 2023, CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers co-organized a webinar entitled "True and independent justice for Tai Ji Men". Among the speakers was Alessandro Amicarelli, president of FOB, who gave the following closing speech.
Tai Ji Men
On June 28-30, Alessandro Amicarelli, president of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief, attended at the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit 2022 that took place in Washington, D,C. Amicarelli discussed in two breakout sessions about Tai Ji Men. He visited Taiwan before and was invited to teach courses on human rights and religious freedom there.
ABSTRACT: The paper reviews the main United Nations documents on “transitional justice,” i.e., on how countries that move from an authoritarian to a democratic rule should deal with past injustices. The question was hotly discussed with respect to post-Communist Eastern Europe, including Lithuania, but also concerns post-authoritarian Taiwan. The paper argues that past violations of religious liberty should also be addressed by transitional justice, through revisions of the court cases, legal reforms, public acknowledgement of past wrongdoings, and compensations to the victims.
The United Nations Zero Discrimination Day is held each year in March 1st. On this year 2022, Alessandro Amicarelli, chairman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB), introduced one of the bi-monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case titled “Tai Ji Men: 25 Years of Discrimination.” The webinar was organized by CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, and HRWF, Human Rights Without Frontiers, a Brussels-based NGO.
by Alex Amicarelli — On November 23, 2021, CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religions, and Human Rights Without Frontiers organized yet another of the bi-monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case. In preparation for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25), scholars and human rights activists discussed the theme “Women, Spirituality, and the Tai Ji Men Protests.”
by Alessandro Amicarelli — When everything else fails, governments that, for whatever reasons, want to discriminate religious or spiritual movements they do not like use a secret weapon: taxes. CAP-LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience), an NGO with special consultative status at United Nations’ ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) filed a written statement to the 47th Session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, which was published on June 21. CAP-LC notes that, “Tax weapons have been often used to discriminate against religious and spiritual minorities. This is becoming a global problem, and one the human rights community should be aware of.”
by Michele Amicarelli — On January 21–22, 2021, the Maria Grzegorzewska University of Warsaw, Poland, with the patronage of UNESCO, organized an international conference on “Education and the Challenges of the Multicultural World.” Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the conference was held online. Some of the papers presented have been published in the International Journal of Pedagogy, Innovation and New Technologies. One of these papers is an interesting contribution to the growing literature on Tai Ji Men and their corresponding freedom of religion or belief case in Taiwan. The author is Susan Wang-Selfridge, who holds a Ph. D. in Music from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and has extensive teaching experience in the musical field, including at the same UCLA.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — The webinar “Dialogue, Diversity, and Freedom: Reacting to the Tai Ji Men Case” was organized by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Frontiers on May 24, 2021. This webinar was part of the events organized by NGOs for the 2021 United Nations World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was commemorated on May 21. It was part of the monthly webinars on the Tai Ji Men case that Bitter Winter supports.
by Pierluigi Zoccatelli — Reading the articles scholars from different countries have published about the Tai Ji Men case evidences both similarities and differences with the situation in Italy. It seems to me that the Tai Ji Men case has three main features. First, a repression in 1996 of spiritual movements labeled as “cults,” largely dictated by political reasons. In the case of Tai Ji Men, a crucial role was played by a prosecutor who decided to make the case as spectacular as possible, and involved the media from the beginning. Although he had announced that he had uncovered serious crimes, no evidence was found to support his claim, and he even fabricated evidence. In the end, after the courts’ thorough investigations, he lost all his criminal cases against Tai Ji Men, proving his accusations were false.
The French and Taiwanese experiences are not isolated. The tactic of using the tax system (very often already oppressive for all citizens) is used practically everywhere. Stigmatizing the target of one's aggression a tax evader has the obvious purpose of making him unpopular and justifying the limitation of his rights. Today we publish this interesting analysis by Christine Mirre, deputy director of FOB sister company CAP-LC (Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience), a United Nations ECOSOC-accredited NGO.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — In these days, there are associations for “victims” of everything, from bullying in school to defective electronic products. As an attorney, I am sensitive to the fact that in the U.S. there are even associations of “victims” of lawyers. Several of these associations exist in the field of spirituality and religion. For example, groups such as Catholics Anonymous or Recovering Catholics gather “victims” of Catholicism—not of sexual abuse or with other specific grievances, just ex-members claiming that being part of the Roman Catholic Church was a victimizing experience.
On occasion of the Human Rights Day 2020 – December 10, 2020 – at 1 p.m. Brussels Time, it will be held on Zoom (no registration needed): https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84145475018, a webinar introducing the White Paper "Justice Denied: The Tai Ji Men Case in Taiwan" by CESNUR and Human Rights Without Fronties.
Tax justice and religious freedom increasingly interact. The European Court of Human Rights is just one jurisdiction that ruled that the tax system cannot be used to discriminate against religious minorities. One of the longest lasting tax cases raising issues of religious liberty involved the Taiwan-based spiritual movement Tai Ji Men.
Tai Ji Men is a spiritual school and highly commended by many personalities in Taiwan. As European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) we deal with cases of discrimination against religious and spiritual minorities and their members too. More than once fiscal and tax issues have been used by governments to the detriment of some groups in order to stop their activities, for instance, when the groups where growing too fast or when they were disliked by the authorities.