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When society turns its back…

 

When society turns its back to a group, the individuals of this group easily loose their fundamental rights and dignity. When already socially marginalized there is no-one to turn to, as no-one believes you and everyone turn your story to their advantage. In this vicious circle every attempt to be heard publicly is turned into another humiliating experience. You are judged before hand.

 

Last century Europe took measures to rise the awareness of the equal rights and dignity of all. The discrimination based on gender, age or race has been successfully diminished along with discrimination of ethnic or sexual minorities as well as people with physical or mental handicaps. Still, there is a blind spot in society regarding discrimination regarding conscience or belief. If you chose to live your life according to conscience or belief differing from the norm of society, you may still today find yourself exposed without anyone to turn to.

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Update : the MISA case

Indications of a set-up to unlawfully convict Mr. Bivolaru 7th June 2012

The Romanian Supreme Court’s decision to re-judge the MISA case is unlawful and seems designed for a fast conviction.

judgeOn 12 April 2012 the High Court for Cassation and Justice of Romania came with an earth-breaking decision during what was supposed to be the last phase of the famously disputed judicial case in Romania. The previous two verdicts, of the Trial Court and of the Court of Appeals, which were fully acquitting the defendant, Gregorian Bivolaru, founder of a Yoga movement, were both annulled by the High Court and set for a retrial in the court of last resort, by the same judges who decided upon this unlawful annulment.
In its haste to cover the lies of the prosecutors who built the case 8 years ago against the yoga school MISA, the court forgot itself to act according to the law. Such, it didn't release the motivation of the decision within the legal term of 20 days, and when it did, after 42 days (1 day before the date of retrial) it only revealed the groundlessness of the decision.

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SKOP research on MISA

The report was one of the main defense evidence in the extradition trial ruled on by the Supreme Court in Stockholm on October 11th – 12th 2005. The final and irreversible decision of the High Court from Stockholm was to decline the extradition request submitted by the Romanian state against Gregorian Bivolaru.

Lawyer company Delphi & Co from Stockholm intermediated a report of SKOP-Research regarding the Danish yoga movement from the NATHA yoga center and the MISA yoga movement, for MISA – the Romanian Yoga School.

This study states our conclusions following some interviews we had with the MISA founder, Gregorian Bivolaru and one of his students, the leader of the NATHA centre in Copenhagen. The study also stands on interviews with former and current yoga practitionners, living in Copenhagen. Some of them are Romanian sojourning in Denmark.

The chief scientist of the study on MISA and NATHA is senior lecturer doctor Örjan Hultåker.


Introduction

 

There are many forms of yoga and different ways to present and teach them. Yoga can be related to religious representations, but this is not a compulsory feature. These days yoga is part of the western culture, just as it occurs in the adverting of the American multinational companies for their products in different countries.

The multinational companies usually avoid references to any form of sect. The fact that a company like Kellogg’s (producing cornflakes for breakfast) makes use of yoga for international advertising (including in Sweden) is clear evidence that yoga belongs to the western culture at present. In the West, yoga is not considered a threat for the social institutions, as it may occur in some countries including Romania. On the contrary, when Kellogg’s offers their customers a DVD presnting some yoga exercises, it actually refers to a serious trend connected to welfare.

The webpage of Kellog’s http://www.kelloggs.se/spk/Yoga/DVD%20Content.aspx – states about Yoga: “The form of yoga sampled on the Kellogg’s Special K Yoga DVD is an active form of yoga, based on dynamic moves and breathing aiming at perfecting the harmony of body and conscience. Conscious breathing also triggers inner warmth, this is why you are going to get warm during the yoga session. The yoga training sessions of 20 and 45 minutes are based on Astanga yoga, which combines movement, flexibility and force. The 45 minutes program will provide complete training. When you practice yoga you should think that it is your yoga. There is no need for you to reach the same flexibility in practicing the body postures like the women in the pictures. You will probably notice that some poses are more at ease than the others, which is quite natural. Think that your body needs to get used to the body poses of yoga, for in everyday life we do not perform all poses that our body is capable of doing. In time, you can go further in practicing the poses and you will have more strength to perform this form of yoga. Be patient to get ready for the exercises that require more strength.

The presentation of the Kellogg company concerning yoga is quite similar to the way the Danish yogis of NATHA and the Romanian yogis of MISA are talking about it in the interviews.

The research presentation

There are two grounds to support this study. The first is that MISA – the Romanian Yoga school MISA was accused of jeopardising the public order. Among other things, there have been references to human beings trafficking as compulsory work. Due to these accusations against the yoga practitioners, both MISA leaders and ordinary followers are subject to continuous persecution. In this respect we have reliable evidence from the Helsinki Committee, as reported by the Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Romania – Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH).

The other reaosn is the request for Gregorian Bivolaru, the founder of MISA, to be extradited to Romania, the country persecuting the yogis, according to APADOR-CH reports. Subsequent to our investigation, we can reinforce the conclusions of the APADOR-CH reports that state the accusations against Gregorian Bivolaru in Romania are unfounded.

Choosing the country and the investigated persons for this research

For practical and personal security reasons we could not perform this study in Romania. Together with the company that agreed to this research we chose to interview some yoga followers of MISA in Denmark. The yoga system founded by Gregorian Bivolaru acknowledged as MISA in Romania is practiced in lots of countries, among which Sweden. The yoga activity is larger in Denmark, where for a few years there have been a few centres in Copenhagen and over the country.

The school in Denmark is based on the yoga system founded by Gregorian Bivolaru and it is called the NATHA center. The NATHA centre in Copenhagen offers a large variety of courses. There are also some collective residences in Denmark, ashrams, where the yoga practitioners can live for longer or shorter periods of time.

There is one reason we chose Denmark for our investigation: the yoga activities are managed here by a Romanian yogi, quite close to Gregorian Bivolaru. His name is Mihai Stoian; he has had a close relationship to Gregorian Bivolaru and he often used to ask for his advice, including for the schedule of the yoga courses. Mihai Stoian, the leader of the yoga activities in Copenhagen, also had an important role in MISA in Romania, where he was the manageer of the publishing house where the yoga courses and different other materials were issued.

There are many similar points in the statements of the interviewed persons about the activities of NATHA in Denmark and MISA in Romania. There are similar activities, practical courses in the yoga halls and in the ashrams. Gregorian Bivolaru has a special status among the yoga practitioners and his picture is on the front wall of the training hall in Copenhagen.

Interviews

The interviews for the study were conducted by the scientific manager of SKOP, senior lecturer in sociology Orjan Hultaker, by the sect issues expert, priest Karl-Erik Nylund and his SKOP associate Oscar Hultaker, expert in behaviour issues and doctorship candidate at the University of Uppsala.

Interviewing the leaders

The interviews with Gregorian Bivolaru and Mihai Stoian took place during Gregorian Bivolaru’s detention at the Malmo Police. As Gregorian Bivolaru was restricted under custody there was no way for him to communicate to Mihai Stoian and influence one another’s statement in their interviews with Karl-Erik Nylund respectively Orjan Hultaker, who had separate interviews with them.

Karl-Erik Nylund and Örjan Hultĺker also interviewed some yoga followers and staff members from the NATHA center in Copenhagen, where most of the work is performed as karma yoga, which implies volunteer work - not to be taken for human beings trafficking, which means compulsory work. For instance, there is a yoga practitioner, living in an ashram, who meanwhile attends the Copenhagen University courses.

Interviewing committed yoga practitioners Karl-Erik Nylund and Örjan Hultĺker also interviewed six yoga practitioners about their activities, moral principles and their attitude about yoga. Three of them are Romanians, currently living in Denmark, therefore they could report on practicing yoga in Romania.

Interviewing former yoga practitioners and persons no longer living in the ashrams

According to Karl-Erik Nylund and Örjan Hultĺker’s interviews with the yogi, SKOP set up an interview guide, which may be used for random quiz on the persons who have practiced yoga in NATHA or had been living in the ashram for a while, but they no longer live there. Studies on social structures and movements usually point to the persons that no longer belong there as proper sources of information.

The SKOP assistant Oscar Hultaker is a behaviour issues expert and degree candidate at the University of Uppsala, in Sweden. He interviewed by phone five persons, among which two former followers, who had only got in touch with NATHA by attending the courses, and they currently have no contact to NATHA.

Three of the interviewed persons had been living in the ashram, but they moved out. One of them at least gave up practicing yoga. They have all personal contacts with persons still attending NATHA, even to persons belonging to other yoga movements.

Oscar Hultaker chose the persons to quiz on the lists of former followers, which NATHA placed at his disposal.

The five interviews followed a quite detailed guide, containing the following questions:

What was the influence, order and persuasion process, the personal example, the relation to the leaders?
What was most important about yoga, techniques, ideas and karma?
Do/did people believe in the religious part of the ideas?
What was karma yoga about?
Do you still practice yoga techniques / karma yoga?
What is your contact to other yoga practitioners?

Örjan Hultĺker’s conclusions

The interviews conducted by Oscar Hultaker were enclosed to this report. Karl-Erik Nylund also wrote a separate report Ť Gregorian Bivolaru and the MISA movement ť.

There are two things indicating a social movement as a jeopardy for the social order:

- First, the movement should have some direction concerning moral values (accepted by the practitioners) which goes against the social values, regulations and standards.

- Secondly, the social movement pattern should isolate and get away from the rest of the society, when it comes to social contacts and information.

Yoga practitioners do not consider MISA a religion, or a mass of beliefs

The MISA founder, Gregorian Bivolaru makes use of lots of religious symbols and ideas in his courses. He states a syncretic vision and his ideas are based on different sources and religious traditions, which Karl-Erik Nylund reports in his study: “Report on Gregorian Bivolaru and the yoga movement MISA”.

Nevertheless, there is no religious core common to all yoga practitioners of MISA and NATHA. For people answering the interviews, yoga is most of all physical exercise and many of the practitioners describe it just as the multinational Kellogg’s company in its yoga exercises DVD.

Aiming to reach harmony between body and spirit - this can be no breach of social rules

Besides physical training, many followers of NATHA consider yoga a way to connect the physical and the psycho-mental enhancement of the individual. As the Kellogg’s put it: “it’s an active form of yoga based on motion and breathing, aiming at a state of harmony between body and consciousness”.

This does not stand against the general values of society in any way. On the contrary, yoga is quite popular – even outside MISA and NATHA – which complies with the current trend in the individual evolution and the consciousness development by means of physical training that provides health.

Open ideology

MISA and NATHA voice their ideas and moral values in the open. There are lots of articles in the internet introducing of Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru’s moral ideas and values and the yoga classes of MISA and NATHA. The leaders of the movements were quite open in their presentation of the courses and different activities.

Open social structure

Sects usually imply serious separation between their adepts and the outsiders. Not only do they have to accept a particular faith, but there are also special rites required in order to have access as a member of the group or to leave it. People who belong to the sect can be easily identified by other members.

As far as our interviews with the followers in Denmark pointed out, we can state an open structure there, which has nothing to do with the restricted, sectarian structure. People who moved out the ashrams say they could do it with no conflicts or worries.

Concerning the sects, people who leave it can no longer stay in touch with their friends there. People intervied in Denmark tell us they keep in touch with their friends in the ashrams, even after moving out.

These subjects do admit some connection between MISA / NATHA and other forms of yoga. There is no way to take any of the above differences for sectarian differences, the followers state confess with regard to the professional value and reliability of the courses they attend, for the activity of the yoga centres does not pursue material advantages.

Yoga can be considered a hobby competing with other spare time activities, with regard to the time allotted. Former followers stated they gave up practicing because it required too much time.

The yoga practitioners are not isolated from society

Considering the interviews we had in Denmark, we can absolutely draw the conclusion that the yoga practitioners want to be part of the society. There is no reason for them to get isolated. They even expressed their wish to include yoga as part of the public education, such as university courses - mutual wish for yoga schools or other alternative medicine organizations.

No program for social changing was detected

The interviews pointed out no program for social changing. The practitioners did not start to practice yoga in order to change the society, but they aim to enrich themselves in order to become more kind. The changing that may occur at a social level is the result of their being living examples that can stand as models for the others. There is no documented plan for collective actions meant to disturb the social order.

It’s quite difficult to stir the yogis for group actions

The yoga movement is open to society and it considers itself part of it. People practicing yoga at MISA also belong to other groups. The followers have no mutual principle about changing the society or disturbing the social order.

It would be rather difficult to stir the yogis from Denmark or from other countries to group actions, therefore there is no ground to define this movement as a sect. The conclusion to draw is that the yoga practitioners do not stand for a threat of a genuine democratic society. Given that this movement lacks any revolutionary ideology and it is part of society there is no reason to consider it a sect.

Intead, yoga practitioners can represent the ground of a social protest in the countries under totalitarian regimes that fear and block the legal democratic channels.

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Vicar Karl-Erik Nylunds report on MISA

This report was one of the main defense evidence in the extradition trial ruled on by the Supreme Court in Stockholm on October 11th – 12th 2005. The final and irreversible decision of the High Court from Stockholm was to decline the extradition request submitted by the Romanian state against Gregorian Bivolaru.

Karl-Erik Nylund is a doctor in theology, a priest and maybe Sweden’s greatest expert with regard to sects. His most recent work is “Att leka med elden – sekternas värld” - “Playing with fire – world of sects” (2004). For more than 30 years, he has been helping people who are the victims of various sects, and also their families. His expert opinion is often asked for concerning these issues and he is often quoted by the media, being well known for his critical attitude towards dangerous sects. For this reason, Karl-Erik Nylund is entitled to assess whether or not the Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) displays features resembling the dangerous sects. During his research work for writing this report and during the interviews, Nylund cooperated with sociology doctor Örjan Hultĺker, founder and head of SKOP-Research, Skandinavisk Opinion AB Institute.



 

1. MISA Yoga School

1.1. Introduction

A series of specialty materials, mentioned in the bibliography list, were studied for writing this report. Also there were three interviews with Gregorian Bivolaru during the police custody in Malmö, the interviews with Mihai Stoian and six MISA yoga practitioners. Three of them are from Romania. Moreover, we even contacted other Romanians living in exile who are not members of this yoga school.

1.2 Founding the yoga school

The Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute Association was founded by Gregorian Bivolaru in January 1990. The Association initially consisting in 22 founding members, started the yoga school that now comprises more than 37.000 practitioners in several countries among which Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The name of the yoga foundation is “Esoteric Orient Yoga” in Sweden and “Natha”, in the other two countries. Movements such as MISA often appear within environments featuring a spiritual vacuum where religious ideas not in accordance with the official religion are persecuted. Such facts regularly occur in the communist or former communist countries. Free thinking and movements consisting in a large number of members are not regarded with benevolence.

The Romanian orthodox church is not thrilled with this yogi movement whose ideas originate in the Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, in Jung’s ideas and so on. The movements based upon ideas belonging to several religious and philosophical paths are called syncretic. Most religions and religious movements are syncretic. The phenomenon is rather a rule than an exception. In a very simplified manner, as a social phenomenon, religion is a system of meaningful believes and legitimate roles. People who grow up within a religious community have certain explanatory patterns and ways of acting they use personally. They learn the dogmas and the rites granting identity to the human being.

1.2.1 Difficulties faced by the spiritual movements

The interactions of the society with the spiritual movements, such as MISA, permanently undergo difficult moments. Such instances that can have an effect on belief systems and role patterns may also emerge under various life circumstances people are confronted with, or even inside the individual’s personality structure. Sometimes even faith crises might appear. Such crises are natural in a pluralistic society. Spiritual movements resort to activities that aim at helping people confronted with such crises, in order to regain their faith.

1.2.2 MISA activities

Originating in India, Yoga is considered extraneous and dangerous in many Christian countries, especially in powerfully orthodox countries such as Romania for instance. Yoga represents a danger for the adept recruitment process permanently carried out by the Church as well as for the fact that the followers might by be attracted by this foreign “religion”, as the church sees Yoga. For this reason they feel compelled to fight against Yoga and often even present it as demonic.

Yoga has been practiced for more than 4000 years. It is an old self-discipline Hindu system of techniques meant to harmonize and unify the body, the mind and the soul through physical exercises, breath control and meditation. The word “yoga” comes from Sanskrit and it signifies “union”, “tuning in with”. Such union actually is the tuning in of the individual’s soul with the universe through spiritual techniques and a process of self-perfection.

There are various forms of yoga. One of the forms of yoga practiced at the MISA school is karma yoga. In our language, this form of yoga would be called: voluntary work. The purpose of a Hindu’s life is moksha – the spiritual liberation. Moksha means being free from the cycle of reincarnations. However moksha, spiritual liberation, is also attained by the one who becomes free from ignorance. There are several paths towards this ultimate purpose: Jnana (the way of knowledge), Bhakti (the way of devotion) and karma (the way of action). There is no such thing as a unique path and a sole savior; there are several opinions, leaders, guru and deities that contribute for helping those who ask for it, in order to walk the spiritual way.

Briefly, we can say that for those who practice yoga at MISA, one of the ways of pursuing self-realization is karma yoga. By all means, this is not about human trafficking; it is a voluntarily chosen path for attaining one’s spiritual purpose with the help of a spiritual guide. Within MISA, each practitioner is under the guidance of a teacher helping him on the spiritual way or tempering him down, if the case may be. The practitioners do not isolate themselves from their families or society.

1.2.3 Ashram

An ashram is a place for living a simple life an being able to practice meditation more. Even the yoga practice is a form of meditation. An ashram aims at facilitating a better health condition and a spiritual life for the practitioner. As a matter of fact, any home may be called an ashram. Within MISA, ashrams are a form of living in common, similar to student dormitories. Each dormitory follows certain rules for the life in common to work. The MISA ashrams abide by the following rules:

1. No meat, alcohol or coffee. No smoking. These rules are both for the inhabitants of the ashram, and for visitors.
2. It is recommended to practice yoga daily for two hours, besides the yoga classes.
3. All people take part at the household activities from the ashram, such as cleaning, house and garden maintenance, house shopping, for instance.
4. Everyone must attend the ashram house meetings (similar to the house meetings of the people living in the same building).
5. Everyone cleans the place on his own when he makes any mess.
6. Silence hours after 23.
7. Previous notification regarding overnight guests ashram, except for constant visitors.
8. Everyone is asked to let the others know when leave on a holiday or a vacation.

This life resembles the life in a student dormitory. There is a person in charge with the dormitory management. It is normal for a person who damages anything to replace that object. This is not a punishment but something natural in a community where one spoils something of the common use utilities. Each group has its own norms expressing the common moral values and each individual is expected to abide by them.

These activities: karma yoga, meditations and the practice of physical exercises help all individuals become fulfilled and complete human beings. The MISA yoga practitioners also believe in the possibility of curing themselves and this is called therapy. Yoga is not a mere spiritual, self-realization training – it is a body and mind therapy.

2. Leader’s part

MISA is a coherent group, namely a group whit a powerful “us” feeling inducing the sensations of belonging to the group. The opposite of such a group is the so-called extraneous group, such as it often happens with religious groups. Most people stay away from such extraneous groups because they are strong expressions of negativity. Communist and terrorist groups, the adepts of hedonist religious movements and the sexually perverted groups fall under this category. The information on the Internet (such as the Romanian journal websites for instance) clearly indicates that for Gregorian Bivolaru, certain politicians are part of such an extraneous group. He also mentions other groups in his declarations and writings. For this reason, it is obvious that because of his allegations, highly critical to certain Romanian politicians, Bivolaru made powerful enemies. People express their opinion against such “extraneous groups” through peaceful street demonstrations in Bucharest.

2.1. Gregorian Bivolaru’s guiding role

Various roles inside a group do not hold the same exact value. The founder of the group often rejoices a special kind of respect. This aspect is also valid in the case of religious groups.

One of the most important aspects in life is the spontaneous tendency to follow the conduct of the majority or of the group leader. This silently occurs inside all groups. The beginner, the newcomer or the one from a lower rank does not even notice the quickness of his attempt to adapt to the group norms. Powerful leaders can make the group members follow the group moral norms and values. The one with authority holds control over people though various means, such as rewards and punishments for instance (such as isolation, fines, etc.) During my study regarding MISA I noticed no such behavior or punishment.

The radical religious groups, such as the Guyana movement from the 70’s, the Heaven’s Gate movement from 90’s or David Koresh from Waco USA, are examples of groups that imposed a strict discipline to their members. The leader’s word represented the law for the others till death. The MISA Yoga School IS NOT such a group.

Also MISA cannot be called a rigid spiritual movement. Such a movement would not allow criticism. Within MISA, everyone is free to criticize the aspects related to its activity or even the teachers. Also, every person is free to leave the yoga school without fear of retaliation.

Retaliation is a feature of manipulative sects, namely: “such religious or any other kind of movements inside which crises concerning faith are actively repressed, denied or punished. A manipulative sect consciously aims at erasing self-identity and replacing it with a pseudo-identity guided by an ideologue or by an ideology.”

According to this description of the manipulative sects, it is clear that MISA is not a manipulative sect.

For a movement to be a manipulative sect, it also has to comply with three of the four A-s.

Aggression – punishment of the members criticizing the leader or the movement.

Aversion – criticism and persecution of the people outside the group such as parents for instance.

Alienation – closed circuit inside the sect, as a geographical or ideological group. The sect becomes the new family.

Absolute truth – only exists within the sect, and the leader/leaders are entitled to the absolute right of interpreting the truth.

During my conversations with the MISA practitioners and teachers, I found nothing of the first two A-s (Aggression and Aversion). With regard to the ashram life, only a part of the persons live there and the activities are not the closed circuit type. The courses are accessible to anyone from the outside. Anyone may attend the courses. Therefore we ARE NOT talking about alienation. Some of those who are more dedicated might have a minimum contact with the outside world, however leaders actively seek to oppose this form of alienation, by encouraging them to return to their work and family. Gregorian Bivolaru DOES NOT claim to be in undeniable possession of the absolute truth. Together with other people, he is a spiritual guide and is convinced he is a man with a mission in the society. On the other hand he displayed and still displays no political claims. If people will transform through the lacto-vegetarian diet and through meditation, this will occur gradually. Bivolaru’s power resides in his very humbleness. Therefore in the MISA case, we can find none of the criteria defining manipulative sects.

Bivolaru went on a retreat in order to meditate and write books. The school was taken over by a managing board and is formally and democratically managed by this board. Each yoga school from the other countries has one leader, regularly one of the senior MISA members and is registered as a non-profit foundation, with a democrat board of management. I could call Bivolaru an “honorific member”, who due to his modesty, rejoices at a lot of respect.

2.2 Charges against Gregorian Bivolaru

The interviews I conducted with Gregorian Bivolaru, one of them attended by only the two of us, made me seriously question the pedophilia charge brought against him. Within the movement, the relations among people are very close, even between teachers and students. However the girl involved was not Bivolaru’s student. Personally, I would be extremely surprised at the existence of a relationship between Gregorian Bivolaru and Madalina Dumitru.

The other charge brought against him while he was under arrest in Malmö, namely human trafficking, simply is a misunderstanding of what karma yoga means. See the text regarding karma yoga above. The issue at stake here is that of voluntary work, as a manner of self-perfection and attainment of the truth. Many of the people living in an ashram do not have the money to pay for their stay and through karma yoga they have the opportunity to attend the ashram activities. The MISA followers state that karma yoga is a form of meditation that elevates the one practicing it out of doubts and alienation and this can turn the world we live in into a better place.

2.3 Spiritual camps

Every year, in Romania, 10-12.000 people gather in order to attend the international yoga symposiums organized by MISA. Worldwide practitioners come here and practically fill up and entire holiday village. Among other things, they also practice heliotherapy. The participants at this symposium are accepted based on an ID card for which they have to send photos, sometimes in a bathing suit, to the MISA leader. This happens in order to “read” the aura of those who wish to attend and see whether there are any health disorders. According to MISA - everything is alive – people, animals, plants – and surrounded by an energetic field called an “aura”. The ability to see auras can be developed through training. The aura of the people at a high level of their spiritual evolution is white and can be seen from miles away. There are seven vibratory levels of the aura, associated to the seven chakra-s or centers of force. For a healthy human being, these energetic focal points are clear and distinct. In the case of a sick person, the aura is fuzzy and its colors dark.

During the selection of the camp participants at these international symposiums, among which there are many young persons, a large number of photos are received. Such photos were seized by the Romanian authorities and classified as pornographic pictures because they obviously do not at want to see the content of the photos (namely one person in a bathing suit) and their purpose.

3. What is MISA actually?

If MISA is not a manipulative and dangerous sect then what is it? I could say about MISA that it is a movement supporting a different way of life, alternative therapies, displaying strong Gnostic sincretism features. The basic ideas are reincarnation and self-transformation (the ability to transform one’s self). A cult is a movement often emerging in a psychic deprivation environment, when people gather around a leader. MISA is a yogi movement where the participants aim at self-perfecting and improving their state of health and harmony through a lacto-vegetarian diet and yoga techniques.

Following the interviews I conducted with several Romanians from the Diaspora, I have strong doubts with regard to the fact that Gregorian Bivolaru could be allowed a fair trial in his own country. As I could see by myself, the charges against him are obviously untruthful and this is why they are the very evidence of the persecutions he is subjected to. Also, I do not believe that Gregorian Bivolaru would stand any chance for survival in a Romanian prison.

Sources:

Interviews.
-Gregorian Bivolaru
-Mihai Stoian (head of the Natha yoga center)
-Three Danish yoga practitioners and three Romanian yoga practitioners visiting Denmark (I will not reveal their names out of safety reasons)
-Ulla M Sandbaek, former EU Parliament member

Specialty works:
Nylund , Karl-Erik Att leka med elden – om livets pĺ sektens villkor . Sellin 1998
Nylund, Karl-Erik Att leka med elden – sekternas värld . Sellin 2004
Hammer, Olav Pĺ spaning efter helheten New Age en ny folktro .Wahsltröm &Widstrand 1997
Holm, Nils. G Religionspsykologins grunder, Ĺbo Akademi 1993
Holm, Nils G. (Ed.) Encounter with India, Ĺbo Akademi 1990
Haglund, Gunilla Credo guiden Uppslagsbok för sökare, Sellin 1997
Harper´s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. Castle Books, Edison 1991
Mc Guire, Meredith B Religion. The Social Context IVth edition . Wadsworth Publ.House 1997
Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru’s writings

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The Gregorian Bivolaru / MISA case again in the spot-light in Brussels

cases spiritual human rigths operation christ romaniaThe Romanian judicial system scrutinized in the European Parliament. Member of European Parliament will bring it further to the European Commission


On Wednesday 11th of April The NGO Soteria International kept a conference in the European Parliament on the topic of abuses and irregularities of the Romanian judicial system in the Gregorian Bivolaru / MISA case. In the conference participated Members of European Parliament and media. This conference comes at the culmination of a work of several weeks of Soteria International in the European Parliament which has already generated letters signed by a big number of Members of European Parliament from all political blocks to the Romanian Prime-Minister and Minister of Justice, expressing their concern over reports of violations of correct judicial process in this case.


In the conference spoke representatives from Soteria International, Mihai Stoian representative of MISA, as well as special gust and key-note speaker Dr. Gabriel Andreescu – founder of APADOR-CH Human Rights NGO in Romania and  who is the author of a comprehensive study of the case.


Dr. Gabriel Andreescu: ''We cant have a Romanian normal system of justice, we cant have a normal Romanian democracy without solving the MISA case''

 

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Report to OSCE 2007 on M.I.S.A. case

42 yogis risk imprisonment in an ongoing Romanian justice scandal.
The leader of the yoga movement, Mr. Bivolaru, has been protected by the Swedish authorities against the Romanian persecutions since 2005. 25-80 other yogis have had to leave their jobs, families and homes as a direct result of the abusive judicial and media campaign against the yoga movement MISA.
Despite strong international criticism from human rights organizations, politicians and experts, the case against the yogis is now in the Supreme Court of Romania where the verdict will be given on the 21st March.

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Report to OSCE 2007 on M.I.S.A. case

42 yogis risk imprisonment in an ongoing Romanian justice scandal.
The leader of the yoga movement, Mr. Bivolaru, has been protected by the Swedish authorities against the Romanian persecutions since 2005. 25-80 other yogis have had to leave their jobs, families and homes as a direct result of the abusive judicial and media campaign against the yoga movement MISA.
Despite strong international criticism from human rights organizations, politicians and experts, the case against the yogis is now in the Supreme Court of Romania where the verdict will be given on the 21st March.

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SHR12 "What is the Role of Spirituality in Modern Society?"

 

SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS 2012

"WHAT IS THE ROLE OF SPIRITUALITY IN MODERN SOCIETY?"

December 8th, 2012
Copenhagen, Denmark

Invitation for scientific researchers, activists and practitioners within the trans-disciplinary field of human rights and spirituality

spiritual human rights soteria international ngo conference 2012

For the fifth consecutive year Soteria International welcomes participants to a visionary conference on the emerging field of Spiritual Human Rights.

This year’s event presents key note presentations and Q&A sessions addressing the question “What is the Role of Spirituality in Modern Society”.

The event marks the continuous effort to develop a common platform for unfolding Spiritual Human Rights into modern society.

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violations against European yogis visiting Chennai on June 2011

spiritual human rights cases india satya yogaFollowing notifications sent to Soteria International by some Danish, German and Romanian citizens in which they report a series of flagrant violations of human rights, our organization for defending human rights, has begun a social investigation into their case.
The following citizens, Ulrik Lyshoj, Rainer Trubel, Mihai Ian Stoian, Adina Maria Stoian, Nicoleta Markus and Simona Colesniuc, are asking for help and counseling because of the fact that, in their cases, the right of presumption of innocence, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right of freedom of peaceful assembly and association were violated.
Our organization, which is defending human rights, started its own investigation. After some research into this case Soteria International has confirmed the following facts:

 

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The Letter of Jean LAMBERT (Green MEP of London, UK) Adressed to The Romanian Prime Minister And Romanian Ministry of Justice

Spiritual Human Rights abuses jean lambert

For the attention of:
The Prime Minister of Romania
Romanian Minister of Justice


We respectfully request your attention in an important judicial case that is currently awaiting the final decision in the Supreme Court of Romania.

It was brought to our attention by private persons and human rights organizations that there might be irregularities in the judicial procedures in the case no. 405/85/2005, regarding Gregorian Bivolaru.

After eight years of trials and two positive decisions in the courts in favor of Mr. G. Bivolaru, we hereby express our concern about information we have received about this case which indicates that unjust actions may be taking place around the case which is currently in the final stages in The Supreme Court of Romania, including instances of pressure being put upon the judges with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the case.

We thank you for your cooperation and at the same time we have the strong belief that justice will prevail.

Yours sincerely,
Jean Lambert
Green MEP for London

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The Letter of Jose BOVE (Group of The Greens/European Free Alliance, France) Adressed to The Romanian Prime Minister And Romanian Ministry of Justice

Spiritual Human Rights misa case abuses bove jose

In attention of:
The prime minister of Romania
Romanian Minister of Justice

http://soteriainternational.org/images/stories/cases-misa-case%2325-bove-jose-spiritual-human-rights-soteria-international-ngo.jpg

We respectfully request your attention in an important judicial case that is currently awaiting the final decision in the Supreme Court of Romania.

It was brought to our attention by private persons and human rights organizations that there might be irregularities in the judicial procedures in the case no. 405/85/2005, regarding Gregorian Bivolaru.

After eight years of trials and two positive decisions in the courts in the favour of Mr. G. Bivolaru, we hereby express our concem about information we have received about this case which indicates that unjust actions may be taking place around the case which is currently in the final stages in The Supreme Court of Romania, including instances of pressure being put upon the judges with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the case.

We thank you for your cooperation and at the same tirne we have the strong belief that justice will prevail.

Your sincerely,
José BOVÉ

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The letter of Nirj DEVA (MEP, U.K. European Conservatives) adressed to the Romanian prime minister and Ministry of Justice

Spiritual Human Rights

In attention of:
The prime minister of Romania
Romanian Minister of Justice


We respectfully request your attention in an important judicial case that is currently awaiting the final decision in the Supreme Court of Romania.

It was brought to our attention by private persons and human rights organizations that there might be irregularities in the judicial procedures in the case no. 405/85/2005, regarding Gregorian Bivolaru.

After eight years of trials and two positive decisions in the courts in the favour of Mr. G. Bivolaru, we hereby express our concern about information we have received about this case which indicates that unjust actions may be taking place around the case which is currently in the final stages in The Supreme Court of Romania, including instances of pressure being put upon the judges with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the case.

We tank you for your cooperation and at the same time we have the strong belief that justice will prevail.

Your sincerely,
Nirj DEVA, MEP, U.K. European Conservatives

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The letter of Marc Tarabella (MEP, Belgium) adressed to Romanian Ministry of Justice, in attention of romanian prime minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu

spiritual human rights abuses misa case marc tarabellaIn attention of:
The prime minister of Romania
Romanian Minister of Justice

We respectfully request your attention in an important judicial case that is currently awaiting the final decision in the Supreme Court of Romania.

It was brought to our attention by private persons and human rights organizations that there might be irregularities in the judicial procedures in the case no. 45/85/2005, regarding Gregorian Bivolaru.

After eight years of trials and two positive decisions in the courts in the favour of Mr. G. Bivolaru, we hereby express our concern about information we have received about this case which indicates that unjust actions may be taking place around the case which is currently in the final stages in The Supreme Court of Romania, including instances of pressure being put upon the judges with the purpose of influencing the outcome of the case.

We tank you for your cooperation and at the same time we have the strong belief that justice will prevail.

Your sincerely,
Marc TARABELLA, MEP, Belgium

 


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The Abuses Against M.I.S.A. During the Penal Procedures

misa case spiritual human rights abuses


COURT CASE 405/85/2005

Established as a not-profit association in January 1990, the association (Miscarea pentru Integrare Sprituala in Absolut – The Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute) has a social – professional, philosophical, educational nature, aimed at raising the spiritual level of people by promoting the yoga theories and practices.

Short introduction

MISA's mentor, Gregorian Bivolaru, and other disciples, have been pursued, arrested and beaten by the former Securitate since the 1970s. Unfortunately, the pursuit of MISA's leader continued beyond 1989, when the investigations were pushed by the neo-communist regime that was implemented after the Romanian revolution.

The facts

The most important official action against MISA took place in March 2004, in an operation called “CHRIST” by the authorities.
On March 18, 2004, a few hundred officials (among them gendarmes, police officers, and prosecutors) entered by force into several private properties of different yoga practitioners which were organized like Indian ashrams (places where people live and follow a spiritual practice). During the action, several abuses were made:

 

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In the name of Spirituality

Written by Emeric T Rüster

Spiritual Human Rights60 years of human rights. The global public celebrates, praises, admonishes and criticizes. We discuss and ennoble, complement and censure. But we ignore the gap which appears in the international law. Between the inviolable human dignity and the Freedom of Religion and Believe grows a vacuum in this area of law that effects million of people worldwide: namely the spirituality.
In Copenhagen 2007 a society was founded, that fights for implementing spiritual human rights in the international law: Soteria International. The big world religions are supported by law partially even privileged in national law. Also the believe of the individual is taken into consideration.

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To let the butcher guard the cow

Spiritual Human Rights

This is a translation from Hebrew of an article written by an Israeli group called MESHANIM. Their web-site is www.meshanim.com. This article is revealing important information about the link between the human-rights organizations and the very organizations which are creating the violations of human rights - the latter funding the first. The article is starting from the perspective of the local human-rights organizations in Israel, but uses this only as an example of the situation word-wide, gradually shifting the focus to the international level and to the key player in human-rights funding - the FORD FOUNDATION - which is also representing the main generators of human rights violations. The importance of this article is that it shows that the paradigm that we have today is not allowing an adequate response to the violations of human-rights, since the human-rights organizations deal mostly with relieving the suffering of the violated, and ignore all together the causes that generated the situation. As this article shows, the ignorance of the root causes for the violation of human-rights, is not by coincidence, but by design.

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The M.I.S.A. Case - A short presentation

Spiritual Human RightsM.I.S.A. Association has been founded in Romania, as a non-profit association, in January 1990, shortly after the Romanian anti-communist “revolution”. It has a socio-professional, philosophical and educative character, aiming to increase the spiritual level of peoples by spreading the yoga knowledge and practices.

The spiritual mentor of Movement for Spiritual Integration in Absolute is the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru. Endowed with a truthfully encyclopaedic knowledge, having a rich practical experience and genuine pedagogical talent, Gregorian Bivolaru contrived to found what we today name M.I.S.A. Yoga School, the largest yoga school in Europe.

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Spiritual Human Rights 2008 - Conclusions

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS 2008

Conclusions


The SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS 2008 international conference, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the 8th and 9th of December 2008, concluded with a unanimous conviction that the human rights, as they are widely understood today, do not give an adequate protection to spiritual practitioners, and do not cover in a sufficient way the spiritual needs and aspects of the individual’s life and the society. All participants agreed upon the need for a new understanding of the subject of human rights, which will cover also the spiritual aspects of life, and which will be based upon the universally valid spiritual values. The participants of the conference called for the search after, and forming of, such a new vision upon human rights – human rights as seen from a spiritual perspective – the spiritual human rights.

The conference began with a discussion presenting different examples and situations of contemporary violation of the rights of spiritual practitioners. Among the different cases reported by the participants where: the case of the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (M.I.S.A.) in Romania; the case of the Raelian movement in France, Switzerland, Belgium and in Quebec; the abusive monitoring against spiritual movements in Paris; the brutal offence of religious sentiments in the name of so-called “art” in Russia; the legal steps taken against volunteer spiritual work in Germany; and other cases. This discussion was marked by a common agreement of the participants that these cases mark a wider phenomena, and that the existing laws and human rights fail to provide adequate protection for spiritual practitioners, and are not aligned with important spiritual notions.
In a later discussion was presented and discussed a new vision upon human rights: human rights in the light of a spiritual paradigm. In this discussion were discussed arguments concerning the existence of forms of violations of human rights which are not covered by the current understanding of human rights – violations which are done not with the body, but with the mind. Were also discussed the existence and importance of human rights which were not addressed in the field of human rights before -  rights such as the right to know the Truth and to search for it, the rights of future generations and also other rights as well. Where also discussed notions such as free will, freedom of conscience and freedom thought – as seen form this new paradigm. Many participants expressed their opinion that the current vision upon the subject is now insufficient, and that this new paradigm gives a much better understanding of the needs of humanity and of the ways to fulfill those human needs.
The first day of the conference closed with a workshop directed at creating a brain-storming for raising various suggestions for ways of preventing intolerance and infringements of the rights of spiritual practitioners.
The second day began with a discussion upon the results of the brain storming from the first day. Was expressed, by many of the participants, the need to define a set of universal principles, valid and common to all the various religions and authentic spiritual paths – a system of universal morality, or the inherent laws of the universe – as a basis for the development of a new understanding of the human existence, the society, and the universal human rights. During this discussion, the different suggestions mentioned in the first day where divided into 3 categories, in order to be worked upon in groups later on.
The following session served as a workshop in which the participants divided into 3 groups, each group discussed one of the 3 general categories of considerations mentioned the previous day. Each group developed the specific ideas, brought up more specific suggestions and raised certain relevant questions, regarding the subject of the group’s work.
The first group worked on the subject of culture and education. This group focused first on attempting to define certain notions about the fundamental values of humanity, common to all authentic traditions and cultures, which should be at the basis of the culture and education of the society. In the proposed list of fundamental values where, among other values, the following: courage, love, generosity and care for everybody, responsibility for ones own actions and for the community, conscience, promotion of art and beauty, truth, wisdom, the search for truth, perfection and happiness, common sense, creativity, transformation, the coexistence of diversity and unity. Secondly, the group discussed ideas for promoting culture and education which will be based upon the fundamental values. Among the different ideas mentioned were the promotion of these values in discussions with the educational system and the media; holding seminars, lectures, workshops and other events to explain these values; petitions and lobbying for think-tanks.
The second group worked on the subject of the role and responsibilities of the individual, the state, and the religious and spiritual organizations, in protecting the human rights of spiritual practitioners. The discussion was focused on reaching a theoretical and principal understanding of the roles of each of the components in this equation. Among the conclusions of this group discussion are the following – role of the individual: the responsibility to do the spiritual training, and the responsibility to choose the right thing; role of the spiritual and religious organizations: to assume an educational role in society, to promote absolute values; role of the state: the responsibility to provide the proper conditions for spiritual practice, to protect the society from destructive elements, yet, the state does not decide what is good and what is not good (because only those who have directly experienced something can determine it’s nature), the state should provide proper education to the whole society, and this will lead also to educated leaders and politicians which will lead the country in a wise manner (proper educations means education which includes in it also the spiritual values). There was also mentioned the need for inter-dialogue between the state and the spiritual and religious organizations.
The third group discussed possible activities at the social, political and scientific levels, meant to promote the rights of spiritual practitioners and the new understanding of the spiritual human rights. Among the suggestions of this group: to hold a spiritual human rights conference which will focus upon the scientific perspective of the spiritual human rights; to keep workshops which will describe, from a scientific point of view, relevant spiritual notions such as the soul, egrigor (the soul of a nation), free will, resonance, man being created in the image of God; to open research groups which will study different considerations and subjects related to the spiritual human rights, and which will gather scientific knowledge which already exists and restructure it under a new paradigm; lobbying at the political level for the respecting of the human rights of spiritual practitioners, through letters and appeals to members of Parliament; the group also discussed whether the spiritual human rights could be secured within any political structure, and examined possibilities of different structures that could achieve this, such as the idea of a spiritual ministry.
The conference concluded with a discussion in which was presented a Soteria International proposal for a Declaration Draft regarding the spiritual human rights, which was then discussed, commented and worked upon by the participants of the conference. The representative of the Russian Orthodox church presented a Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity which was formulated by the council of the Russian Orthodox church and adopted by the World Russian People’s council, and which presents a different view upon the subject of human rights and spirituality. At the conclusion of the conference, all the participants agreed that the declaration draft, originally suggested by Soteria International, is a positive initiative and that it should be published and serve as the base for further discussion on the subject of the spiritual human rights, and to contribute to the preparations for the next international conference: Spiritual Human Rights 2009. To these conclusions are added as appendix the above mentioned declaration draft by Soteria International (and developed by the participants of the conference), with the purpose of promoting a public discussion on the subject of the Spiritual Human Rights.

In conclusion, the participants of the conference called for further discussion on the subject of the spiritual human rights, and stressed the need to raise these questions to the awareness of widening circles of the society. The participants also called for further work aimed at developing a new spiritual paradigm upon the subject of human rights.

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Spiritual Human Rights 2008

DEFINING THE EMERGING FIELD OF SPIRITUAL HUMAN RIGHTS


Take part of a historic event as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights by taking a visionary look ahead:

“How can spirituality and religious practice be secured freedom and support in contemporary society?“

With this question the Spiritual Human Rights 2008 conference explores how the freedom of thought, conscience and belief can be adapted to meet the needs of a modern landscape of religious diversity and increased interest in spiritual evolution.

A MEETING BET WEEN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, RESEARCHERS & SPIRITUAL PRACTITIONERS
The conference is an exploratory event where human rights activists, social scientists and NGO s meet with representatives of spiritual communities to define the emerging field of spiritual human rights - embracing the issue from a theoretical as well as a practical perspective.
Contemporary practice and research in the field will be shared in a combination of open space workshops, presentations, panel discussions and networking activities. With a clarified state of affairs and a collective visionary work the Spiritual Human Rights 2008 aim to end in a common declaration directing further work within Human Rights, societal work, media and politics.

TOPICS FOR DEBATE

  • The potential clashes between secular society, religious diversity and new interest in spiritual evolution today
  • The impact of the politicization of religion on the freedom of spiritual practice
  • Safeguarding the freedom of spiritual practice while still protecting society from the dangers of spiritual extremism and deviation
  • Intolerance in media and anti-spiritual interest groups in relation to freedom of expression.
  • The harmonious integration of spirituality in society, offering the immanent principles to balance inner ecology


PARTICIPATE ALREADY TO DAY
You are invited to give your contribution to Spiritual Human Rights 2008 already today by contributing to our forum discussions.Here you can leave your testimony, observations and suggestions to be considered for the further programming and the final declaration. You can also contribute to or start discussions related to Spiritual Human Rights.

The Spiritual Human Rights 2008 Conference is initiated and hosted by the NGO Soteria International

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Spiritual Human Rights 2011

International Conference // Working Session

Spiritual Human Rights 2011

10th and 11th of December 2011

Copenhagen, Denmark

Working session for communicating the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES of Spiritual Human Rights



Invitation for scientific researchers, activists and practitioners within the trans-disciplinary field of human rights and spirituality


For the fourth consecutive year Soteria International welcomes participants to a visionary conference on the emerging field of Spiritual Human Rights. This year’s event will be executed as a creative writing workshop with two days of focused effort on communicating the Universal Principles as a unique charter within the Spiritual Human Rights. The program also includes in-depth analysis on how to communicate spirituality in and through modern mass media and practical workshop for spiritual communities on how to relate to media in a constructive way.


ONE WORLD - ONE HUMANITY - ONE SET OF FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
The intention behind the Universal Principles is to discover and describe the fundamental and immanent ideas common to different cultural and spiritual traditions of the planet. The principles provide sui-generis guidelines for all citizens of the world. Embracing the common truths that unite people across nations and religions the universal principles constitutes a timeless foundation facilitating intercultural dialogue and sincere human transformation. The knowledge and practice of the Universal Principles contribute to the balance and harmony between the human rights of the individual and the needs of society - helping each person and humanity as a collective to address its challenges.


UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES WITH MANIFOLD AREAS OF APPLICATION
The immanent values and mechanisms of the Universal Principles can be observed and applied within a vast field of disciplines and arenas. Accordingly, during a series of conferences and working sessions across Europe in the period 2008-2011 their application has been tested in fields as diverse as peace-making, the natural ecology, mass media and the education system. Drawing upon the conclusions and observations from these sessions combined with new insights and latest research the SHR11 conference aims to raise the work to the next level by describing a complete and inspiring set of Universal Principles, with immanent practical value for the positive transformation of today’s society and its citizens. On this background we invite progressive thinkers and pioneering practitioners to participate in the formation of this unfolding field.


A DYNAMIC MEETING FORMAT
Addressing the scientific and spiritual complexity of formulating Universal Principles the SHR11 conference is designed as a creative writing workshop with a combination of collective writing sessions, round-table dialogues and presentations addressing the challenges of communicating Universal Principles to the general public as well as to the field of specialists within spiritual human rights. The event also includes networking activities as well as inspirational talks and energizers.

REGISTRATION & PRACTICAL INFO
For registering to the conference please send an email with a short personal resume to registration@soteriainternational.org

The conference language is English.
If you have further questions about the event please contact Mr. Arthur Lederer at telephone +45 3064 5548 or email arthur.lederer@soteriainternational.org

We look forward to welcoming you to the Spiritual Human Rights 2011 international conference!
Sincerely,
Soteria International

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