Story By: John Feng, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Asia Wire Report
Video Credit: AsiaWire
This is the moment cops burst into a compound where a ‘Living Buddha’ woman headed a deadly exorcism cult in which followers were prohibited from leaving or speaking without permission and one was reportedly killed in a sick ritual.
Followers of ‘Zhonghua Rixing Yishang’ – or ‘China Daily Virtue’ – are not allowed mobile phones and cannot bathe or speak without permission, while reasons for being beaten include speaking out of turn and attempting to run away.
Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said 19 followers were rescued from the cult’s headquarters in the island’s central landlocked county of Nantou in August.
Five people, including fanatic cult leader Lin Hsin-yue, 61, were also detained at the remote mountain monastery, which had been sealed shut by a large red metal gate and surrounded by chain-linked fences, the bureau under the National Police Agency announced on 25th September.
Investigators with the CID’s 5th investigative unit seized cult propaganda, various rods, plastic and wooden sticks, as well as metal pipes wrapped in cloth used to beat followers in exorcisms or so-called ‘soul purifying’ ceremonies.
The unit’s lead investigator, Lai Ying-men, said the beatings were carried out or authorised by the ring leader herself, who was referred to as the ‘Holy Mother’ or ‘Living Buddha’.
The raid on the compound came during a months-long investigation into the group – established by Lin in 2008 as a fusion of Eastern and Westerns religious teachings.
Authorities became involved in March after family members of 20-year-old follower Ms Fang, from Taiwan’s western city of Taichung, reported that she had been beaten to death during a visit to mainland China with the matriarch.
Lin allegedly ordered Ms Fang to be flogged during a purification ceremony in Nanning, capital of China’s southern Guangxi region, where she had hoped to open a new compound.
She then fled back to Taiwan to avoid arrest by local authorities, the CIB said.
According to reports, the religious cult’s alleged purpose is to inspire good virtues and promote physical and spiritual health, but those who joined found themselves unable to leave, often suffering violent and brutal beatings when they attempted to escape.
The CIB investigative report said the religious group has two offices in Taiwan and over 100 ‘members’ on either side of the Taiwan Strait. Their ages reportedly range from 2 to over 80.
All 19 followers rescued from the compound had been beaten for the purposes of exorcism, or for failing to follow the cult’s rules.
Reasons for being flogged included using the Holy Mother’s name in vain, speaking without raising one’s hand, disrespecting Buddhist teachings, and even asking for a second helping of food.
CID investigator Lai said: “According to the followers, the cult leader claimed they had been possessed by evil beings which needed to be driven out through these exorcism beatings.
“No religion treats its followers this way.”
The Taichung District Court has ordered Lin to be remanded in custody and held incommunicado as investigations continue.
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