Many people have suffered social marginalization due to a media campaign against their belief system.
In Czech Republic, observation of Jaroslav Dobeš and his followers’ case revealed complexities that call for a thorough investigation on how it was handled by the Czech authorities.
Also, there is a need to address the remnants of totalitarian practices surfacing in this case. There is a certain risk that, if unaddressed, the case of Jaroslav Dobeš will be a dangerous precedent for a faulty political and governmental interference in the development of pluralism and fundamental freedoms, particularly in the field of conscience and belief.
Furthermore, the results of the observation stated that Czech society is prone to stigmatization and ostracism of those who choose to live differently from mainstream principles, as is the case of Jaroslav Dobeš’ followers, and that is by and large due to the inability of the Czech authorities to properly address and prevent human rights violations.
Soteria International invites you to the 8th edition of the
SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE 2015:
9TH DECEMBER 2015, hours 6.00 pm - 9.00 pm
Venue CONCORDIA, Address: Nordre Fasanvej 230, 2200 Copenhagen
Human Rights and Spiritual Practice
The seminar offers a practical approach to support human rights, at individual and societal level. The participants are invited to an open dialogue.
1. What are human rights?
2. Freedom of religion, conscience and belief – a hot potato in EU today!
3. The term “sect” and marginalisation of unfamiliar spiritual practice
4. The free conscience as spiritual practice – to stand up for your heart!
5. What can you do to support human rights in your society?
During the event, we will share knowledge on how practically to deal with violations of spiritual human rights, including how to build an inner spiritual attitude facing such violations.
In the spring of 2015 Soteria International visited the Buddhist Tibetan organization Ogyen Kunzang Choling which is situated in the middle of Brussels.
Their story is impressive due to the fact that it has taken almost 2 decades for police to conclude their investigation. Also, their case follows the same line that Soteria International has noticed before; a pattern of behaviour towards new spiritual groups in our society.
It is of no matter that Buddhism and Yoga are millenary traditions, spiritual practices for those wishing to follow their hearts, but in some parts of the world they are perceived as new spiritual movements. Ogyen Kunzang Chöling (OKC) is a spiritual organisation, following the Buddhist Tibetan tradition. OKC was qualified as a “sect” by the Parliamentary Commission of inquiry on cults, in France in 1995 and then, in Belgium, in 1997.
As a result of this unsubstantial qualification, very strong mediatised judiciary investigations started in 1997 against this association, which in order to show their innocence, had to release numerous documents proving so.
On 30 September 2015 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, had a debate about the Freedom of religion and belief and the discrimination that sometimes happens in Europe. We quote from their press release and resolution.
„Religious communities should be able to exercise the right to freedom of religion “without impediment and without discrimination” and to practise their faith publicly and freely in accordance with their own rites, said PACE, which is concerned about the tensions generated in Europe by the development of many beliefs and churches.
The Assembly noted that certain religious practices remained controversial within national communities and underlined that the wearing of full-face veils, circumcision of young boys and ritual slaughter were divisive issues.
In addition, the Assembly called on states to seek “reasonable accommodations” for controversial religious practices, in particular in the workplace, the aim being to guarantee effective equality in the right to freedom of religion.
This year at OSCE HDIM, FOREF kept a side-event in continuation of last years debate on the issue of freedom of conscience and belief.
The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF Europe) is an independent, secular, civil society formation dedicated to defending the freedom of religion in accordance with international law.
Here is the synthesys of the event as FOREF presented on their site.
„On September 30, 2015, from 1 to 3 p.m., FOREF held a well-attended side event on FoRB issues in Austria, France, Germany and Hungary at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Poland, moderated by the president of FOREF, Dr. Aaron Rhodes. Among the audience were state officials as well as representatives from persecuted minority religions, various NGOs and FECRIS*.
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.