Police last month raided the premises of a religious group in Taichung, where members were allegedly severely beaten and held against their will, officials said yesterday.
The Chunghwa Daily Good Deed Association (中華日行一善學會) allegedly lured people into leaving their homes to live in a commune in the mountains, where it promised to “purify their spirits,” police told a news conference.
Members were closely monitored and encouraged to report each others’ “offenses,” such as saying that they wanted to leave, police said, adding that those who complained were beaten, with victims ranging from two to 80 years old.
Photo: Hsu Kuo-chen, Taipei Times
A 61-year-old woman surnamed Lin (林), allegedly the founder of the group, was detained along with five other suspects in the raid, they said.
A 20-year-old Taichung woman was found dead in China’s Guangxi Province after telling her family that she wanted to go there for religious reasons, police said, adding that investigators found that she had been a member of the group and was allegedly beaten to death by other members.
After learning of the group’s possible involvement in the woman’s death, Prosecutor Lin Yi-cheng (林依成) led a team from the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s central Taiwan division on the raid, they said.
Lin had registered the group as a legal association in 2009, and established chapters in Nantou County and Taichung, police said, adding that she reportedly planned to expand into China, which was the purpose of the trip she took to Guangxi with the woman who died.
Investigators found that Lin — who referred to herself as the “living Buddha,” the “holy mother” or just “the mother” — had recruited about 100 people into the group since 2009, many of whom were family members of existing members, they said.
Once someone joined the group, their actions were restricted and it was difficult for them to leave, police said, adding that members were told to maintain a group mentality and not express individual opinions.
Members were encouraged to report to Lin any fellow members found not walking or eating “properly,” complaining of wanting to return home, or any other act considered an “offense” by Lin’s rules, they said.
When authorities arrived at the premises, they found it surrounded by a tall barbed-wired fence and a locked gate, police said.
After breaking through the gate they rescued 19 members who had been detained by Lin and confiscated several items, including computers, doctrine materials, cash, uniforms and steel rods that were allegedly used to beat members, they said.
Among the evidence were member rules prohibiting them from insulting Buddha, pretending to be the group’s master and taking an extra bowl of rice during meals, among other acts, said Lai Ying-men (賴英門), captain of the 5th Investigation Corps at the bureau’s Central Taiwan Office.
The 19 rescued members believed that Lin had been trying to help them, he said.
They also believed that they had “demons inside of them,” which had to be removed by being beaten, Lai said, adding that several members, including a two-year-old boy, had bruises covering their entire bodies.
Lin is to be charged with breaching the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防治條例), as well as offenses for bodily harm and bodily injury leading to death, he said.
Lin has been detained without visitation rights, Lai said, adding that other victims of the group have been asked to come forward and testify.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: A US Air Force KC-135 tanker came less than 1,000 feet of an EVA plane and was warned off by a Taipei air traffic controller, a report said A US aerial refueling aircraft came very close to an EVA Airways jet in the airspace over southern Taiwan, a military aviation news Web site said. A report published by Alert 5 on Tuesday said that automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) data captured by planfinder.net on Wednesday last week showed a US Air Force KC-135 tanker “coming less than 1,000 feet [305m] vertically with EVA Air flight BR225 as both aircraft crossed path south of Taiwan” that morning. The report included an audio recording of a female controller from the Taipei air traffic control center telling the unidentified aircraft that it was
A series of discussions on the legacy of martial law and authoritarianism are to be held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this month, featuring findings and analysis by the Transitional Justice Commission. The commission and publisher Book Republic organized the series, entitled “Escaping the Nation’s Labyrinth of Memory: What Authoritarian Symbols and Records Can Tell Us,” to help people navigate narratives through textual analysis and comparisons with other nations. The four-day series is to begin on Thursday next week with a discussion between commission Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠), Polish-language translator Lin Wei-yun (林蔚昀), and Polish author and artist Pawel Gorecki comparing
MOVING OUT: A former professor said that rent and early education costs in Taipei are the nation’s highest, which makes it difficult for young people to start families The population of Taipei last year fell to the lowest in 23 years due to high rent, more transportation options and the expansion of northern cities into a single metropolis, academics and city officials said on Monday. Data released this month by the Ministry of the Interior showed that the capital was home to 2,602,418 people last year, down 42,623 from 2019. The decline is second only to 1993, when the population fell by 42,828 people, while Taipei’s population was the lowest it has been since 1997. Taipei saw the biggest drop among the six special municipalities, while Taoyuan led the group in
A US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said yesterday, as tensions between China and Taiwan raise concerns in Washington. US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone near the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島). The US military said the carrier strike group was in the South China Sea, a large part of which