European Federation for Freedom of Belief, FOB, it is a Federation of Associations that advocate freedom of thought, religion and belief. It has been intended as an initiative to support the EU FORB program.
Soteria International is part of FOB since its creation and we work together for a place where all the people live together enjoying fairness and equality too, dispite their religious or belief.
FOB openly stands against every form of religious discrimination, including any arbitrary distinction between "religions" and "cults"; across the decades in fact such a stigma has become largely discriminatory and indeed has been employed to discriminate against religious and spiritual minorities.
At the same time FOB also condemn every kind of abuses and illegalities as well as any type of violence occurring at any place, inside any religious or non-religious environment; and for this very reason we reject any distinction based on early ideological assertions.
This year, during the OSCE/HDIM 2015, FOB expressed openly its position in the session about „Freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief”.
Soteria International subject this year at HDIM was on the derogative term “sect” and the role of “anti-sect movements” in discrimination and hate crimes against small spiritual groups.
In our work, Soteria International is often in contact with the outcasts of religions - the so-called “sects”. The word “sect” describes religions that are so openly and generally discriminated that it is considered normal to do it. A “sect” is someone we all know is strange and subversive, without needing to know anything about them. “Sect” is the N-word of religious discrimination. What is a “sect” today may well be a normal religious practice in another place or time, just as many of today's normal religions were once considered “sects”. The arbitrary use of the term “sect” illustrates society's lack of insight, substantial discourse and personal experiences in the field of spiritual life.
We continue with the series of articles regarding the witch-hunt effects in society, displacing the rule of law, when spiritual groups are confronted with allegations of sexual abuse.
In nowadays, it takes very little to create a campaign against spiritual groups. Behind the media campaigns, we most often find just one or two testimonies against the group, while thousands are still in favor. Most often these accusations come from apostates as part of personal vendettas within the groups. (For the role of apostates and media in these judicial campaigns please see our report “The Impact of Apostates’ Activities on the Suppression Associations of Conscience or Belief”, 2012 http://www.soteriainternational.org/sr1205the-impact-of-apostates-activities-)
The police are rightfully obliged to look into any criminal accusations. In the case of spiritual groups, media campaigns as well as police investigations often turn against the whole group, also because the accusations usually are vague.
We have here, a modern version of witch hunts, with a few unreliable witnesses who have managed to create a wave of fear in society.
Since 2012 the course “scientific yoga” has been offered to the students of the University of the Republic of Uruguay (UDELAR). The course has become very popular among both students and teachers. The success has been internationally appreciated as a novel way to increase study results at the University.
Last week the psychologist Farias together with the priest Pastorino accused the yoga course to be “sectarian”, both members of SEAS - Servicio de Estudio y Asesoramiento en Sectas del Uruguay.
While visiting the University they created panic by spreading the rumour that three students, who are presently at a yoga retreat in Europe, had been kidnapped by a European sex sect. Soteria International has been in contact with the students, who managed to assure their worried families and friends that the rumours are unfounded.
The non-democratic and subversive role of anti-sect movements was highlighted in the report “Anti-Sect Movements and State Neutrality” (Dresden University, 2012). Exhibiting a strong bias and acting as if driven by vested interests, the psychologist and priest have posed as experts in front of media and authorities, instigating hate and staging contemporary “witch-hunts” in media."
After several years of trial and a mass media campaign, the yoga members of MISA which were accused of human trafficking have been acquitted. Soon after the verdict, the motivation of the verdict was released.
The motivation given by the Romanian judge seems to be a report against the abuses done by the prosecutors and the human rights infringements of MISA yoga students and teachers.
We selected some important parts of the this:
EXCERPTS FROM THE MOTIVATION OF THE DECISION IN THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING CASE AGAINST MISA YOGA SCHOOL FROM ROMANIA
“ The criminal investigation authority has proceeded to interview several injured parties, to the hearing of witnesses so that according to these statements it founded the notification document and forwarded it to the court, arguing that all offenses listed above are proved to be incumbent upon the defendants.
But the whole investigation of the court revealed inconsistencies of the allegations in the indictment, in this phase all allegations proving their true nature, that is pure conjecture, inferences devoid of evidentiary support, becoming more than obvious that the facts of the indictment either do not exist or they do not meet the constitutive elements of the offenses for which the defendants were prosecuted.
By Mark Barwick, Human Rights Without Frontiers
HRWF (15.07.2015) - When the freedom of religion or belief has been violated, we typically think of actions that have been taken against individuals. This is the lens through which people of Western cultures tend to view human rights, since individuals are normally regarded as the primary right-holders in society. It is also individuals that are held accountable for infractions of the law or for criminal offenses.
However, many people are in prison or are otherwise sanctioned not for something that they have done or for something they believe in, despite the charges that have been made against them. They are there because of their religious or belief identity and association with a group.
The freedom of association is a hallmark of any democratic system. And the freedom of religion or belief itself is understood to include the freedom to practice one's religion "either individually or in community with others," as it is stated in Article 18 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. It is this community dimension - that is present in most religions and that shapes profoundly religious identity - that can make governments and authorities uneasy. It can trigger actions to monitor, control and even supress that community. And by implication, that means anyone who is associated with that community.
1998-1999 began the launch of China’s suppression of the Falun Gong, a traditional discipline with a big following in China (70-100 million practising). Being an accessible spiritual practise bringing a lot of benefits, Falun Gong was becoming a respected practise and a household name.
As we know, from many of the cases of the infringement of spiritual human rights, any spiritual movement which is increasing in popularity and also, encourages their practitioners to develop an inner freedom, is considered a threat to those governments still existing under corrupt regimes, whether they maybe under the guise of a kind of ‘democracy’ or in this case, a clear cut Communist rule.