How Toru Goto Fasted His Way to Freedom: Final Days of Incarceration
In recent days Mr. Toru Goto, the world’s best-known survivor of coercive conversion in Japan has won his case against his kidnappers in a Tokyo district court (FOREF published). Mr. Goto has been suing two professional deprogrammers who were paid to assist Mr. Goto’s brother and other family members to keep him in condo prisons for more than 12 years in a tragic, misguided effort to force him to change his religious convictions. The following installment relates the dramatic moments on the day Mr. Goto’s family members gave up their benighted effort and cruelly expelled him from the condo in February, 2008.
The following testimony of Mr. Goto has been translated by Mr. Yoshi Fujiwara, the webmaster of Religious Freedom blogspot. Original documents in Japanese are uploaded in the blog operated by the Association to Support Toru Goto’s Court Case.
In November 2007, my elder brother’s wife criticized me by saying, “How much do you think it costs to maintain this apartment? Do you know how badly you damaged the properties of this apartment? These must be repaired when we move out.” The damaged properties she mentioned were the kitchen shelves and accordion curtains which I had broken in in February, 2001 during repeated escape attempts. (I was overpowered every time by family members.) It looked like the financial burden to my family to maintain the apartment was becoming harder and harder. Also, they had a sense of crisis that they would have more troubles if I would carry out another hunger strike and starve to death. Around that time, I recall that members of my family started to have different opinions as to what to do with my confinement.
Around January, 2008, I demanded a mirror to cut my hair and entered the room near the front gate where my younger sister was. My sister said to me in a strong tone, “Don’t come in,” and shoved me away by pushing my chest with both hands. I unsteadily stepped back, and my back hit the cupboard. My physical strength was at that low of a level at that time. However, at least two people stayed in the apartment at all times to monitor me.
Around 4 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2008, my elder brother and his wife, my mother, and my younger sister ordered me to move out of the apartment saying, ”If you have no intention to acknowledge the issues of the Unification Church, get out of here immediately!” Fact was, I was debilitated mentally and physically at that time. As a result of my third hunger strike, which annoyed my family, they forced me to endure slow starvation – what they called “the food sanction” – and virtually no exercise for 1 year and 10 months. I felt a sense of despair and emptiness as the confinement became protracted. In addition, I had a sense of having lost everything. I had been isolated from society for 12 years. I had nowhere to go, and I would be homeless even if I were released. I asked my family for some money: “Give me some money. Otherwise I can’t catch a train.” My brother declined, saying, “No.” Continue reading