Throughout the years, Soteria International have encountered several situations where volunteer work is prosecuted as human trafficking and labour exploitation, when undertaken by spiritual seekers. We will present here briefly cases from Italy, Germany and Romania.
The idea of this common letter surfaced during discussions at the latest roundtable at the IRF (International Religious Freedom), where amongst many other matters we discussed the difficult situation of voluntary work in our society, when performed as part of a spiritual or religious path.
We will address the European authorities to solve this principle violation of fundamental rights.
This common letter will be signed by a large number of NGOs from the IRF and elsewhere, and sent to the European Commission.
If you want to support this project, please send us an email before Friday next week (30 January 2015), in which you mention your organization, or if you individually, will be amongst those signing this joint letter.
On 23rd October 2014, during discussions at the latest Roundtable at the IRF (International Religious Freedom Roundtable), amongst many other matters, we were informed by the representatives of „Twelve Tribes” of their difficult situation in Germany.
The IRF Roundtable is an informal group of individuals from non-governmental organisations who gather regularly to discuss IRF issues on a non-attribution basis. It is simply a safe space where participants gather, speak freely in sharing ideas and information, and propose joint advocacy actions to address specific IRF issues and problems.
Not very late after this discussion, we received the report done by FOREF - Forum for Religious Freedom Europe regarding the “Twelve Tribes” case.
Here is part of this report:
GERMANY: Controversy Surrounding “Twelve Tribes” – Sociologist Warns against Targeted Misinformation by Sect Experts
FOREF Reports Exclusively
FOREF (01.01.2015) - A good 20 years ago, a branch of the religious community "Twelve Tribes" was established in Germany. In August 2013, the community was prohibited from running a school of their own since they discipline their children corporally - although in a soft manner, as the community emphasizes.
Since last summer, Soteria International is one of the members of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FoB) which is a free society of culture and information independent from any party. The association is inspired by the principles of democratic participation, of solidarity and social promotion, of autonomy and responsibility.
Recently, FoB took action regarding the continuous misunderstanding or misuse of some terms, eg “cult”.
Here it is the open letter:
FOB (Freedom Of Belief) wishes to express their deep shock at the article “Cults and gurus grow up – the institutions turn a blind eye” by Carmine Gazzanni, published by your magazine on the 8th of January 2015. The word “cult”, whose use was already discouraged as long as fifteen years ago by the Council of Europe, is devoid of any scientific value and is used solely to arbitrarily stigmatize some religious minorities. This kind of propaganda already generated several violations of human rights in our continent as well as in our country: since two years the Italy case is being carried out at the OSCE, due to the persecution of harmless groups labeled as “cults”.
The conflict can be solved by communion of the hearts and not by rearranging the same forces that have initially triggered the conflict.
As humans, we have our senses – they connect us with the material, outside world. We have our reason, that connects us with the subtle world of ideas. All our theses, positions, opinions, truths reffer to this mind of ours, this reason. The mind takes hold of what the senses provide and build for us the rational world we usually live in.
The french thinker Pascal though, in the 17th century, thought that us, as human being, are possesed of yet another organ that further expands our world, our knowledge: the heart. He reasons that when we are in love, or have done somthing terrible, or in other such cases, the reaction that we feel we experience it in the region of the heart, in the middle of our chest. Its not something you feel it belongs in the head, or in the feet – its something that’s connected to the heart.
Some years ago, Soteria International started a collaboration with various spiritual associations and organisations defending spiritual human rights.
Thus, the first step was made i.e. working closely together and giving a louder voice within modern society, becoming more visible to policy makers and other important social bodies. Also, such initiatives became a source of inspiration for similar groups to manifest among other spiritual organisations or organisations defending spiritual rights. The debates were focused on different topics, as for example, last year, where the danger of mind manipulation was explored and its influence upon the human ability of self-determination and on how it could be counter balanced by a strengthened freedom of thought, conscience and belief.
If last year the debates were still oriented more to identify problems or conflicts coming from outside, this year the approach was different, going towards a more functional and very efficient solution: what do we need to do in order to make these external problems and conflicts be significantly reduced? The Greek Γνώθι σεαυτόν (Gnothi seauton) or, temet nosce in Latin was the incentive that seemed to inspire all participants in their speeches and sharing experiences: know thyself and you will know the Universe together with all its laws, its hidden energies and forces. Briefly, solving inner conflicts appears as being the best possibility to significantly reduce outer conflicts.
Spiritual Human Rights 2014 Conference
Soteria International in collaboration with:
Ananda Assisi Italy - http://www.ananda.it/en
Damanhur - http://www.damanhur.org/
FOB - European Federation for Freedom of Belief - http://freedomofbelief.net/
LAYMS –League for Antidefaimation of Yoga and Spiritual Movements - http://www.layms.net/
Truth Seminar – http://www.truthseminar.net
SRS - Spirituality, Religions and Sectarianism - http://www.dimarzio.info/en/
invite you in the heart to participate to this process of finding coherent ways to solve the conflicts during the 7th Spiritual Human Rights conference.
Spiritual Human Rights 2014 Conference
Copenhagen, 10th December 2014, from 10.00 - 16.00
„New paradigm of conflict management based on the concept of Concordia, or coherence of the hearts
The conflicting state is the product of unilateral actions, lacking the horizon opened up by the understanding of other different viewpoints than our own.
Nature itself is a permanent regaining of the state of harmony and balance, an action of permanent compensation of apparently conflicting forces. The universe provides us with the most eloquent example of transformation of conflicting forces into complementary forces, the difference between the two aspects being as big as that between death and life.
Spiritual systems say in unison that there is a fundamental unity of the universal consciousness, a unique origin of everything that exists. The purpose of spirituality in general is to provide the path for regaining this universal, unifying factor, starting from the individual consciousness.
During our side event „Shamanic Practices and related health and spiritual issues”, we had with a Danish shaman in apprenticeship from the Amazonian Sipibo-tribe, Jan Hansen, which is now convicted to 6 month imprisonment due to his beliefs.
Here is his story:
„My name is Jan Hansen, and I am a Danish shaman. After many years of meditation, psychotherapy and living with Buddhist monks in Thailand I came to Peru in 2007 to learn shamanic tradition from the Amazon’ Shipibo-tribe. After some years my Maestro invited me to be his apprentice, and since then I have practiced as a shaman. (...)