Arbitrary Detention of Two Members of Minority Religion

MOLDOVA: New court hearing of Calestru and Savencov planned next Tuesday

Their wives hope that their pre-trial detention will not be extended again and they will be released

Moldova Prison

Family members wait for hours outside the prison in Moldova to bring food to their loved ones behind bars.

Chișinău/Moldova, 21.01.2016 (HRWF) – On 26th January, there will be a new court hearing about whether or not the pre-trial detention of Mihai Calestru and Oleg Savencov will be extended. The two men are members of the Unification Church who were arrested on false charges (human trafficking) on 30th October 2015.

Yesterday, the wives of the prisoners went to the prison to bring them food. They told HRWF that, “their daily menu is porridge in the morning and in the evening. For lunch they just get clear soup (almost water) and it has a bad taste. That is why relatives of the prisoners have to feed them. We are only allowed to pass food once a week. People bring 25-30 kg per week in average. The procedure is burdensome. First we must submit a request in three copies in which we must list the content of the bag. Then we have to wait for our turn until we are called. It means usually 3 to 6 hours waiting outside whatever the weather and for the moment it is -15°C. Once people submit their request, they cannot leave because they must also give their identity card.” (See picture above)

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Germany: Victory for Freedom of Speech

European Court of Human Rights rules against German ban on pro-life leafletting

Moral victory for pro-life activists 

STRASBOURG, 26.11.2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center. It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.” Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

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Concessions by Hungarian Government, but slow Progress

David Baer Continues Advocacy For Religious Freedom in Hungary

Report by Texas Lutheran University



Budapest/Seguin, 22.10.2015 (TLU) – As a philosophy and theology professor with a personal connection to Hungary, David Baer has become one of the leading experts on the country. Specifically examining religious freedom and a 2012 law that stripped most small religious communities of their legal status, he recently attended the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) conference in Warsaw, Poland—an annual event addressing a wide range of human rights concerns.

As part of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF), Baer spoke about persistent difficulties with Hungary’s church law, including the government’s latest draft.

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Germany: Campaign against Family Values financed with Tax-Payers’ Money

Scandal over “Cult in the Castle”

FOREF-Press Release



Munich, 12.11.2015 (FOREF) – On Thursday 5 November, 2015, the Bayerische Rundfunk (Bavarian broadcasting station, BR) launched a media outcry against an internationally recognized organization. Last weekend, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) held a conference on family values in the Catholic seminar centre, Castle Fürstenried, in Munich (Bavaria). Those invited included a member of parliament, members of the European parliament, publicists and representatives of civil society from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. However, the BR spread the word that a dangerous ‘cult’ lurked behind the organizers. Since the beginning of this year the BR has in fact been leading a campaign against what it sees as its new enemy: the representatives of conservative Christian family values.

The arbitrary term ‘cult’ (in German: ‘Kult’ or more often ‘Sekte’) has been strongly criticized by sociologists ever since the 1980’s .[1] It is now only used by religious fundamentalists and left-wing radicals in order to vilify dissenters. According to its guiding principles, the BR must distance itself from any kind of religious discrimination. With its campaign, the media outlet is not only infringing on its neutrality, but also on its commitment to journalistic accuracy, objectivity and balance. When it comes to traditional family values, it seems that the BR no longer takes its job seriously as a broadcasting station ruled by public law. And this at the tax payer’s expense!

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History and Human Rights: 600th Anniversary of the Execution of Jan Hus


Jan Hus and Human Rights



PRAGUE, 20.10.2015 (Huffington Post) – The following remarks were given at a conference in Prague commemorating the 600th anniversary of the burning of Jan Hus. The conference was sponsored by the Law Faculty at Charles University and the Universal Peace Federation.

In a technical sense, Jan Hus had nothing to do with human rights. Human rights is a secular concept that emerged only in the Enlightenment, as a central element of liberal philosophy and political theory. Today it is fashionable, and perhaps thought to be strategic, to claim that human rights are something we have inherited from various religious traditions. But if we understand human rights properly, we understand that this is not the case. The major world religions have helped mankind to understand the value and dignity of individual human beings, that is, what human rights are there to protect. But they have not set forth the political and legal mechanisms that can make human rights a reality.

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Side Event at the OSCE HDIM 2015 in Warsaw


FoRB Issues in Austria, France, Germany and Hungary



FOREF Side Event 2015 - panelists

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*.

The first speaker of the panel, Prof. David Baer, professor of Theology and Philosophy at the Texas Lutheran University and FOREF board member, discussed persistent difficulties with Hungary’s church law (2011) that stripped 200 religious communities of their legal personality and reduced the number of recognized churches to 31.

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Breaking News: Victory after 12 years of Confinement and a 7-year Legal Battle


Justice for Toru Goto

Tokyo High Court Decision Confirmed by Supreme Court,
but forced conversions continue in Japan



Toru Goto

TOKYO, 08.10.2015 (FFWPU USA) – Mr. Toru Goto (51)  was confined for 12 years and 7 months in an apartment in Tokyo and pressured to give up his faith and leave the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Upon his release, he sued his relatives and the deprogrammers for their forced confinement actions, and last November, the appeals court judgment ordered the relatives and deprogrammers to pay a total of 22 million yen as compensation for damages. Last week, the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed the final appeal of the defendants and let the previous verdict by Tokyo High Court stand. This ended Mr. Goto’s seven-year legal battle to receive justice. Mr. Goto released the following statement on his final victory.

“I am sincerely grateful that the civil verdict in my favor has been finalized, and I want to thank everyone who supported me. Following my release from confinement on February 10, 2008, I fought a total of seven years in both the criminal and civil routes. This was not just a personal fight. I also fought with the thought that I was representing the 4,300 victims of abduction and confinement during the past 50 years.

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