Mother starves son to death with help of religious group

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A 17-year-old high school student was allegedly starved to death after being locked up for eighteen days by his mother, who acted with help from a religious group, the Changhua County Department of Civil Affairs (彰化縣民政處) said yesterday while commenting on the ongoing investigation into the case.

The religious group, "Ri Yue Ming Gong (日月明功)," is not registered in government records, and police are investigating a member of the religious group, surnamed Huang, who allegedly tortured her son to death with the help of one of the group's adherents.

This past May, Huang reported to police that her son had died from drug abuse, but authorities, however, did not find any trace of drug abuse, but rather evidence of torture, a police statement indicated.

According to the police, Huang had assumed her son was abusing drugs, and therefore took her son to a meeting of the "Ri Yue Ming Gong" group to enter rehabilitation.

Huang locked her son up for eighteen days, providing him with only water and congee to eat, and also hit him with pipes and bamboo sticks.

Huang's son was later declared dead after she sent him to the hospital. The "Ri Yue Ming Gong" group was suspected of involvement in this incident.

The religious group was founded in 1977 by Chen Chiau Ming (陳巧明), granddaughter of the well-known writer Chen Shiu Gu (陳虛谷). Participants have to pay an annual fee of NT$60,000 to NT$70,000, and practice qigong (氣功) at regular meetings.

Chen taught her believers, who are all women, not to trust in men.

The Changhua County Department of Civil Affairs stated that they plan to initiate an investigation into this group to see whether it has violated social order regulations (社會秩序維護法).