For almost a decade Soteria International has been raising awareness among international and European politicians and Human Rights NGOs about violations of the freedom of religion and belief in Romania in the case of the spiritual movement MISA and its founder Gregorian Bivolaru.
To remind briefly the case: on 18 March 2004 Romanian conducted an unprecedented, massive attack on the spiritual community of MISA yoga school, using brutal force and weapons against its peaceful inhabitants. The attack was broadcasted nationwide, marking the beginning of one of the most devastating and sinister defamation and marginalization campaign in Romanian media directed against the movement MISA and its followers.
During time, Romania refused to at least look at the human rights violations in this case, and continued with the discrimination of MISA participants.
However, on 26.04.2016 European Court for Human Rights has ruled in favor of MISA participants who were affected by the attack in 2004. ECHR unequivocally states that Romanian authorities have majorly violated human rights when handling the case of MISA!
By Corinne McLaughlin
This article has been taken from CICNS: http://www.cicns.net/Politique_Spiritualite_Reunies.htm
Spirituality? Politics? How dare we mention these two words in the same breath? One can be a spiritual seeker or political activist but not both. When caught in the dual mind of "this or that", politics and spirituality appear as two different worlds, two different dimensions that should not be mixed.
But practically speaking, spirituality can ennoble politics - a politics which is rooted in spirituality. Spirituality can help us leave behind the ego and instincts of power at the door and really serve the good of all. Politics may provide a practical arena for applying spiritual principles, such as compassion and, in addition, the media will give us "feedback" instantly if our actions are inconsistent with our promises.
Gandhi had no difficulty putting together spirituality and politics. He said: “I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do, unless I took part in politics”.
What about the separation of church and state in our country? The founding fathers (and mothers) have never said that we should not discuss spiritual principles in the political arena but that the state should not impose religious beliefs on its citizens or interfere in the practice of their religion.
The work of human rights defenders is essential for the advancement of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Human rights defenders play a central role in making state policies human rights compliant and authorities accountable. Human rights defenders are also instrumental in defending victims of human rights violations and ensuring their access to redress and remedy. Human rights defenders are key partners of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Civil society human rights activists face numerous obstacles in their work, including: legal and administrative restrictions impeding the registration of NGOs and their access to funding; excessive financial and reporting requirements; judicial harassment; smear campaigns; threats and intimidation; abusive control and surveillance; confiscation and destruction of working materials; unlawful arrest or detention and ill-treatment. In some cases, human rights defenders are kidnapped or even killed. The absence of effective investigations into violations committed by state and non-state actors against human rights defenders targeted because of their human rights work remains a major problem. This results in the impunity of perpetrators and the recurrence of violations, which also facilitate reprisals.(http://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/human-rights-defenders)
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament had recently a meeting, on 17.02.2016, , where issues regarding the violence against human right defenders (HRDs) were approached. Even if put in very difficult situations, even if they are regularly subject to persecutions, punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention especially in countries lacking an effective rule of law, these entities (either individuals or different type of organisations, the main being the NGOs) prove the courage to continue their actions of defending human rights. In this context, it is very important for the EU to urgently adopt new resolutions in order to control these situations.
F.O.B. (European Federation for Freedom of Belief) supports the initiative of Soteria International aimed to know the truth about the case of Bivolaru, political refugee arrested in France last February 26 in violation of the international law.
Gregorian Bivolaru – persecuted by Ceausescu’s regime – received a criminal conviction in Romania within an extremely controversial trial, marked by documented violations of basic human rights. Since 2005 he has been granted political asylum in Sweden; the spiritual movement which he founded, MISA Yoga, was completely acquitted of all charges on December 11, 2015.
The legal actions against the group have been the center of interpellations and reports at international level, from the EU Commission to the OSCE/ODIHR, to which also F.O.B. contributed by intervening on both the Romanian and the equally controversial Italian appendix of the case and which was brought to the attention of the Parliament in 2012.
The Romanian yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru was arrested in France on February 26 2016, in violation of his protection as a religious refugee in Sweden.
Following a history, spanning decades, of persecution in Romania for his spiritual beliefs, Gregorian Bivolaru, was convicted in what clearly seems to be an unjust manner, within a controversial and prejudiced court case, in Romania, where there appeared noticeable violations of human rights, not only of Mr Bivolaru but also of members of M.I.S.A yoga school. In 2005, Mr Bivolaru was granted political asylum in Sweden.
This case has drawn international attention particularly due to the controversies raised by the lack of coherence between the actions of Romania and the International Protection offered by the European Union and marked by the Geneva Convention, for the Human Rights of Mr Bivolaru.
The Bivolaru case is again in the centre of European attention, challenging the EU-collaboration as one country, Romania, continues a persecution that another EU-member state protects the refugee from.
Taking in consideration the unicity of the Bivolaru’s case, the question about Mr Bivolaru situation was addressed in different occasions at the European level including to the former president of the commission Jose Manuel Barosso, and also to the former vice-presidents Viviane Reding and Cecilia Malmstrom., .
This film from 2015 presents background of the persecutions as well as perspectives on how to handle today's unique situation.
On Friday, January 29, EUROPOL published “Europe’s most wanted fugitive” list. The list features 43 fugitives, who hide in other EU member states. Most of them are wanted for murder, armed robbery, rape or organized crime. But one of them is not a hiding fugitive at all, but a Romanian refugee with asylum in Sweden.
The Romanian accusations were tried by the Swedish Supreme Court, who found them to violate his human rights. In 2006 he received Swedish asylum as religious refugee. In recent years Romania have taken up the persecutions of the refugee, now within the EU collaboration. In 2013 a European Arrest Warrant was issued on his name, and now he appears on Europol's most wanted fugitives list.
Judicial protection between EU member states is rare and sensitive. The Romanian/Swedish case has been discussed at highest EU level. The European Commission has requested Swedish authorities first of all to protect the refugee's rights, allowing Sweden to ignore the European arrest warrant.
How can it be that Europol now side with Romania against the Swedish asylum and the Geneva Convention?