Taipei-Police have busted a hardline cult led by a 61-year-old woman for alleged use of violence against its members, the National Police Agency's Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said Wednesday.
The cult was uncovered while police were investigating into the death of a 20-year-old Taiwanese woman in China, according to the CIB.
The woman was allegedly beaten to death by a cult member in China's Guangxi Province in a form of "exorcism" in March, when she accompanied the cult leader, identified by local media as Lin Hsin-yue (???), on a visit there.
In an attempt to evade an investigation by Chinese security authorities, Lin then fled back to Taiwan and hid in a mountainous area of Nantou County in central Taiwan.
During a raid on the cult's branch office in Taichung earlier this month, police found that the cult, named Zhonghua Ri Xing Yi Shan (????????), was established in 2008 by Lin with the alleged purpose of inspiring good virtue and promoting physical and spiritual health.
It is headquartered in Nantou County and has two branch offices in China, as well as one in Taichung, and has about 100 followers, the bureau said.
Police found that at least 18 followers and their families, aged between 2 and 80 years old, had allegedly fallen victim to violence after Lin began six years ago to instruct high-ranking members to mete out punishments on other members as a form of "exorcism."
Police also discovered that the cult had been persuading minors to run away from home and beating up members who wanted to leave the cult, according to the bureau.
The Taichung District Court ruled in mid-September that Lin should be detained and held incommunicado.
According to police, there are numerous reasons for the cult members to be beaten, including failure to write a letter of confession appropriately and failure to follow cult rules.
With the exception of Lin, whom the cult members call the "Holy Mother," all the members, and even their children, have been beaten, police said, adding that the group has caused one death and hurt more than five families.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel