RUSSIA : NGOs express serious concerns about rights of defense violations in Russian Scientology case

RUSSIA : NGOs express serious concerns about rights of defense violations in Russian Scientology case

Recently Russian courts target religious minority groups with arbitrary prosecution methods that reminds us of the Soviet era

Scientologists are in jail in Saint Petersburg for the sole fact of practicing their faith, which Russian authorities regard as “extremist,” a charge also used against other groups. We have followed with great concern news published in the Russian media about serious irregularities in the case of Scientologist Ivan Matsitsky, who has been in jail in the last seventeen months. The FSB is being accused of fabricating evidence, and the prosecuting judge of having violated the rights of the defense by not providing Matsitsky and his attorneys with the materials of the case within the date required by the law, and by extending Matsitsky’s pre-trial detention beyond any reasonable limit.

We understand that Matsitsky’s attorney has filed complaints against both Judge Evgeny Isakov and the FSB. We urge the Russian authorities to seriously investigate the complaints, to restore Matsitsky’s right of defense, and to abandon their faulty interpretation of the notion of extremism, which is used as a tool to ban unpopular religious minorities.
November 2o, 2018
  • CAP-LC Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience 
  • CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions 
  • EIFRF European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom 
  • FOB – European Federation for Freedom of Belief 
  • FOREF – Forum for Religious Freedom Europe 
  • HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers 
  • Soteria International

Related Article:

Scientologist’s attorney complains about the judge and asks for disciplinary action against him

The defense attorney of the spiritual leader of St Pete Scientologists Ivan Matsitsky filed a complaint with the Judiciary Qualifications Board of St Petersburg against St Petersburg City Court judge Evgeny Isakov, who, back in October this year, extended pretrial detention of the Hubbard’s follower who is being charged with organizing of an extremist conspiracy, incitement of hatred or enmity, and illegal entrepreneurship. The attorney believes that the judge neglected his duties, and thus the defense attorney asks the Board to take disciplinary action against Isakov.

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Posted in Alexander Dvorkin, CESNUR, FECRIS, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, HRWF, Human Rights, OSCE, Putin, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Russia, Russian-Orthodox Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE HOAX:False Demonstrations Against Chinese Refugees in Seoul South Korea

THE HOAX
False Demonstrations Against Chinese Refugees in Seoul South Korea

DOCUMENTARY:

“The Hoax”  is a great new video documentary about the false demonstrations against Chinese christian refugees in South Korea. The video shows clearly how the long arm of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) reaches into another sovereign country to continue its persecution of Christians who tried to escape surveillance & torture. The producer, a renown Italian  scholar Dr. Massimo Introvigne  brilliantly explains the historical background of state sanctioned religious persecution in China.

On August 31, 2018, agents assigned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organized some relatives of Christians from The Church of Almighty God (CAG) who had fled to South Korea from China, to hold a press conference at the Jeju Parliament under the pretext of “seeking for relatives.” They strongly requested the Korean authorities to deport the displaced Christians back to China. Between September 1 and September 4, Ms. O (吴某, Ms. Wu), a pro-Chinese Korean activist, recruited professional demonstrators along with some relatives of CAG Christians to stage false “spontaneous” demonstrations respectively at the CAG communities in Seoul and Chungcheongbuk-do, and before the Blue House, the executive office of the President of South Korea.

During the demonstrations, Mr. Peter Zoehrer, an Austrian reporter and the executive director of the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF Europe), was one of the witnesses on site. He witnessed the hateful representations of the self-styled demonstrators, and had interviews with some CAG Christians who are in South Korea. He stated that the CAG has been subjected to persecution in China, and that CAG members had fled to South Korea and sought asylum there for religious freedom. He also pointed out that it is the Chinese Communist Party that had disrupted their families, while The Church of Almighty God had not been responsible for family disruption. Please join us for the footage of his interviews.

Follow us on:
FOREF Europe Twitter https://twitter.com/FOREF_EU
FOREF Europe Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/foref/
The video is from the new YouTube Channel “Bitter Winter”, the online magazine that reports on religious persecution in China:
Links:
“Bitter Winter”
on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEy7…
“Bitter Winter” Online Magazine: https://bitterwinter.org

 

Posted in CESNUR, China, Christians, Falun Gong, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, HRWF, Human Rights, Interviews, Kidnapping, Peking, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, religious persecution, Torture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PRESSEMITTEILUNG – ÖSTERREICH: Werden Blasphemiegesetze aus der Mottenkiste geholt?

ÖSTERREICH: Werden Blasphemiegesetze aus der Mottenkiste geholt?

Europäischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte rechtfertigt Bestrafung einer Frau wegen Islamkritik

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff spricht bei der American Freedom Alliance Konferenz in Los Angeles, USA

Wien, 29.10.2018 (FOREF) – Das Forum für Religionsfreiheit Europa (FOREF), ein unabhängiger Verein (NGO) mit Sitz in Wien, erhebt vehement Einspruch gegen die jüngste Entscheidung des Europäischen Gerichtshofes für Menschenrechte (EGMR). Der EGMR bestätigte das Urteil gegen Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, eine österreichische Staatsbürgerin, wegen einer Bemerkung über die Tatsache, dass der Prophet Mohammed eine Minderjährige ehelichte.

In einem Seminar zum Islam hatte die Beschuldigte darauf hingewiesen, dass der Prophet Mohammed pädophil gewesen sei, da er ein 6-jähriges Mädchen geheiratet hatte. Am 25. Oktober 2018 hat der EGMR das gegen die Frau von einem Wiener Gericht gefällte Urteil betreffs „abfällige Äußerungen zu religiösen Glaubensinhalten“ bestätigt. Das Wiener Gericht hatte 2011 befunden, dass die Meinung von Sabaditsch-Wolff nicht durch den Artikel 10 der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention geschützt sei. Provokante Bemerkungen über Glaubensinhalte und Gegenstände der Verehrung, „welche imstande sind die Gefühle der Anhänger einer Religion zu verletzen, können als böswilliger Verstoß gegen den Geist der Toleranz gewertet werden“, heißt es in der Begründung. Der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte argumentiert, dass das österreichische Gericht „sorgfältig die Freiheit auf Meinungsäußerung seitens der Beschwerdeführerin mit den Rechten der anderen, welche ihre religiösen Gefühle geschützt sehen wollen, abgewogen hat.“ Das EGMR behauptete weiters, dass die Entscheidung mit der Absicht gefällt worden sei, den „religiösen Frieden“ in der österreichischen Gesellschaft zu bewahren.

FOREF wendet demgegenüber ein, dass es kein Menschenrecht darauf gibt, welches persönliche Gefühle vor gesprochenen Worten schützen würde. Vielmehr seien alle Mitglieder einer Gesellschaft dafür verantwortlich, umstrittene Sachverhalte in zivilisierter Weise zu diskutieren. „Das Ganze ist ein weiterer Übergriff auf das Gesetz, um die Freiheit über Fakten zu diskutieren und Meinungen auszudrücken, weiter einzuschränken“, kritisiert der renommierte Menschenrechtsexperte Dr. Aaron Rhodes. „Diese Entscheidung bedeutet, dass unsere Freiheiten beschnitten werden, und zwar aus Rücksicht auf jene, die mit gewaltsamen Reaktionen drohen. Aber es sind gerade diese Drohungen, die den gesellschaftlichen Frieden gefährden, und nicht irgendwelche Diskussionen über historische und moralische Streitpunkte,“ betont der Präsident von FOREF.

Peter Zöhrer, Geschäftsführer von FOREF, bezeichnet das Urteil als blanken Skandal: „Die Entscheidung des EGMR hält österreichische Blasphemiegesetze aufrecht. Diese werden bewusst dazu eingesetzt, um die Meinungsfreiheit anderer einzuschränken und ihre Glaubens- und Gewissensfreiheit zu unterdrücken. Es sollte in Österreich möglich sein, jegliche Glaubenslehre und -praxis offen zu diskutieren. Aber aufgrund dieses Urteils sieht es so aus, als ob das österreichische Strafgesetzbuch und die Europäische Gesetzgebung die Bewertung moralischer Standards, eigentlich die Essenz des religiösen Lebens, einfach verbieten würden!“

FOREF verteidigt Menschenrechte als Prinzipien, die universell gültig sind. Dies umfasst den Respekt vor der Meinungsfreiheit eines jeden Menschen. Einschränkungen dieser Freiheit müssen sorgfältig durchgesetzt werden, um Einzelpersonen vor Gewalt zu schützen und nicht etwa um abstrakte Ideen, Doktrinen oder Glaubenslehren vor Kritik zu immunisieren. Falls man Einschränkungen unter dem unscharfen Vorwand des „Religionsfriedens“ oder dem Schutz „religiöser Gefühle“ durchsetzt, dann ermöglichen wir die Instrumentalisierung der Menschenrechte für politische Zwecke. Derzeit verteidigt der Gerichtshof diejenigen, die mit Gewalt drohen, anstatt jene, die sich im öffentlichen Diskurs engagieren.

Europa ist einen langen Weg gegangen bis die Grundfreiheiten gesetzlich verankert wurden. Mit der Entscheidung des EGMR werden aber willkürliche Blasphemiegesetze wieder aus der Mottenkiste geholt. FOREF ruft daher alle europäischen Gerichte und Entscheidungsträger auf, nicht zuzulassen, dass der Rechtsweg missbraucht wird, um die Meinungsfreiheit erneut zu knebeln.

Posted in Aaron Rhodes, Austria, blasphemy laws, Court Decisions, ECtHR, Europe, FOREF Europe, Hate Speech, Human Rights, Islam, Legislation, Muslims, Religion, Shariah | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PRESS-RELEASE: ECHR Upholds Ruling that Criminalizes Islam-Critique

AUSTRIA: Subjugating Free Speech to Blasphemy Laws?

ECHR Upholds Ruling that Criminalizes Islam-Critique

The European Court of Human Rights is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Vienna, 29.10.2018 (FOREF) — The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF Europe), an independent nongovernmental organization based in Vienna, today voiced its strong disagreement with the latest decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR upheld the conviction of an Austrian citizen for her remarks about the Prophet Mohammad’s marriage to a young child. Will this case move Europe one step closer towards subjugating free speech to blasphemy laws?

In seminars about Islam, the defendant had suggested that the Prophet Mohammad was a pedophile for having married a six-year old girl when he was 56 years old. On October 25, 2018, the ECHR  upheld Vienna Regional Criminal Court’s  decision (2011) on her conviction for “disparaging religious doctrines.” The local court ruled that the woman’s speech was not protected as freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Provocative remarks about religious doctrines or objects of worship “capable of hurting the feelings of the followers of that religion could be conceived as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance,” according to the ruling.The European Court concluded that the Austrian courts “carefully balanced the applicant’s right to freedom of expression with the rights of others to have their religious feelings protected.” It also claimed that the ruling was meant to preserve “religious peace” in Austrian society.

However, FOREF stresses that there is no human right not to have one’s feelings hurt through spoken words. Instead, all members of a society are responsible for civil reactions to things they find objectionable.

“This is yet another legal encroachment on the freedom of Europeans to discuss facts and express opinions,” stated Dr. Aaron Rhodes, President of FOREF. “The ruling confirms that our freedoms have been limited in deference to those who threaten violent reactions. But it is those threats that are a danger to social peace, not discussions of historical and moral issues,” he added.

Peter Zoehrer, Executive Director of FOREF, called the judgment an “outrage.” “This ruling upholds what is basically a blasphemy law, the kind of legislation known to threaten the freedom of speech and suppress the freedom of belief and conscience of others,” he said. “It should be possible to openly discuss any religious doctrine and practice in Austria. But now it is clear that the national criminal code and European law forbid the evaluation of moral standards, which is the essence of religious life itself,” he observed.

Defending human rights means defending principles that are universal. This entails respect for everyone’s freedom of expression. Restrictions on free speech must be carefully enforced only to protect other individuals from violence, not to protect abstract ideas, doctrines, or belief systems. If restrictions are applied disproportionally under the vague pretense of protecting “religious peace” or “religious feelings,” we allow human rights to be abused for the sake of political agendas. The ECHR judgment defends those who threaten violence, not those who engage in debate.

Europe has come a long way to establish fundamental freedoms. Today, FOREF calls on European leaders not to allow arbitrary blasphemy laws determine again the boundaries of free speech.

For more information:

Dr. Aaron Rhodes (aaronarhodes@gmail.com)
Peter Zoehrer (foref.office@gmail.com)

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Posted in Aaron Rhodes, Austria, ECtHR, Europe, Hate Speech, Human Rights, Islam, Legislation, Religious Freedom, Shariah | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CHINA’S BLACKLIST OF FORBIDDEN RELIGIONS – The Chinese Communist Party’s War on Religious Liberty

The Black-Lists: The Evolution of China’s List of “Illegal and Evil Cults”

Xi Jinping

Edward A. Irons

The Hong Kong Institute for Culture, Commerce and Religion
edirons@aol.com

Bublished by CESNUR:
https://cesnur.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/tjoc_2_1_3_irons.pdf

ABSTRACT: In China, departments under the central government have published lists of banned and illegal religious groups since 1995. This practice can be seen as an extension of traditional ways of categorizing heterodox associations dating back to imperial times. Groups on the current list are often identified as xie jiao—normally translated as “evil cults.” The list is thus directly connected to questions of the categorization of religion in China. The study of the lists provides insight into the government’s evolving policy on religion, as well as the legal environment for religious activity.

Over the past quarter century, China has sporadically published lists of banned religious groups. These lists as they have been consolidated and published reflect the government’s evolved thinking on religious policy, and illuminate significant aspects of the contemporary religious scene in China while offering insights into the government’s official policy toward religion. The consolidated lists were published in 1995, 2000, again in 2014, and most recently in September of 2017. These published announcements constitute the “lists” proper. They are supplemented by a number of individual circulars that speak to a more limited number of the banned groups, which provide content that would be subsequently compiled into the longer lists.

A range of agencies are involved in these circulars, but the major lists are published by Public Safety, the State Council, both government agencies, and the General Office of the Central Committee, a department of the party. Recent lists appear under the aegis of the recently-established agency established to counter xie jiao groups, the Anti-Cult Association.

Xie Jiao (邪教)

Nearly all of the lists place the individual groups in the category of xie jiao. This term is widely translated inside and outside China to mean “cult.” While convenient for translators, this usage is a misleading simplification. Xie jiao in fact has a long history of its own (Wu 2016). It was used as early as the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) to mean heterodox, harmful sects. In the 1990s, xie jiaowas applied as a convenient, well-known term for translating a foreign word, “cult,” that had its own separate and complex background. Like current usage of “cult” in many countries, xie jiao has become a term in common usage. Clearly, the two terms come from different backgrounds. Yet, for better or worse, cult and xie jiao are two concepts whose fates remain intermingled.

The 2000 circular gives a useful official definition of xie jiao. A xie jiao is any group that:

a. establishes an illegal organization in the name of religion, qigong, etc.;

b. deifies its leaders;

c. initiates and spreads superstitions and heterodox beliefs;

d. utilizes various means to fabricate and spread superstitions and heterodox [or cultic] beliefs to excite doubts and deceive the people, and recruit and control its members by various means;

e. engages in disturbing social order in an organized manner that brings injury to the lives and properties of the citizens (危害公民生命財產安全等活動).

Each of the lists discussed below are xie jiao lists. The individual groups are banned because they are xie jiao, are harmful, and are hence illegal. Xie jiao, an existing concept in the Chinese political lexicon, has been applied to a contemporary religious landscape. This alerts us to the importance of the pre- Communist period in understanding how illegal religious groups are viewed. So, before listing the contemporary groups, I will discuss how such groups were seen in the past.

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Posted in CESNUR, China, Christians, Falun Gong, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, Human Rights, Peking, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, religious persecution, Torture, Unification Church | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

China’s Persecution of Christians Beyond it’s Borders

ANTI-REFUGEES “DEMONSTRATIONS” IN SOUTH KOREA:
THE REAL STORY

Producers of KBS – Korean National TV – interview Peter Zoehrer (FOREF Europe)

On September 2–4, 2018, Austrian journalist Peter Zoehrer was an eyewitness to false “spontaneous demonstrations” staged by the CCP and Korean anti-cultists against asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God in Seoul. He tells the whole story to Bitter Winter.

Rosita Šorytė

Bitter Winter reported extensively about the false “spontaneous demonstrations” organized in South Korea between August 30 and September 4 by the Chinese Communist Party and Korean anti-cultists against the asylum seekers of The Church of Almighty God, a Chinese Christian new religious movement heavily persecuted in China.

We also reported that an Austrian journalist, Peter Zoehrer, was an eyewitness to the events. Zoehrer is also the secretary of FOREF (Forum for Religious Freedom Europe)and has uploaded on FOREF’s YouTube channel videos of the events. We have interviewed Zoehrer in Warsaw, where he was attending the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

You interviewed several members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG) about persecution and torture, what was your experience?

Yes, I can tell honestly, that the last four days of my stay in Korea were some of the most intense, exhausting but at the same time enriching days in my entire lifetime. During this period, I interviewed 17 members of The Church of the Almighty God. Not only this: five of them were victims of physical torture. All of them have been persecuted in China. They fled to South Korea to escape permanent surveillance by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and in desperate search for religious freedom.

I was shocked when I saw members of an anti-cult group demonstrating outside their church in Seoul and asking their members to be deported back to China where everybody knows they will be arrested, jailed, interrogated and tortured.

During these few days I had the extraordinary chance to meet the members of a religious community that has experienced severe persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since the early 1990s. It is said that on the CCP index of the twenty most “dangerous cults“ The Church of the Almighty God is ranking among the top seven.

Through the interviews, I also had the unique opportunity to hear very personal, often tearful stories of the members who suffered unspeakable persecution because of their faith. The CCP established a nearly perfect system of thought-control by using countless spies as well as their state of the art observation technology. Additionally, they observe believers through neighbours, teachers, and even relatives and family members. Already at elementary school, the CCP instills fear of punishment into children, should they start to believe in God.

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Chinas grenzüberschreitende Christenverfolgung

ANTI-FLÜCHTLINGSDEMONSTRATIONEN IN SÜDKOREA:
DIE WAHRE GESCHICHTE

Team des Koreanisches Nationalen Fernsehens KBS und Peter Peter Zoehrer beim Interview

In der Zeit vom 2. – 4. September 2018 wurde der österreichische Journalist Peter Zoehrer Augenzeuge der falschen, von der KPCh und koreanischen Anti-Sekten-Aktivisten inszenierten “Spontandemonstrationen“ gegen asylsuchende Angehörige der Kirche des Allmächtigen Gottes in Seoul. Er übermittelte Bitter Winter einen vollständigen Bericht der Ereignisse.

Rosita Šorytė

Bitter Winter berichtete ausführlich über die falschen “Spontandemonstrationen“gegen asylsuchende Angehörige der Kirche des Allmächtigen Gottes (einer neuen christlich-religiösen Bewegung in China, die dort unter starker Verfolgung leidet), die zwischen dem 30. August und dem 4. September von der Kommunistischen Partei Chinas und koreanischen Anti-Sekten-Aktivisten in Südkorea organisiert worden waren.

Wir berichteten ebenfalls, dass der österreichische Journalist Peter Zoehrer Augenzeuge der Ereignisse wurde. Zoehrer, der auch Schriftführer von FOREF (Forum Religionsfreiheit Europa) ist, hat Videos von den Ereignissen auf den YouTube-Kanal von FOREF gestellt. Wir haben Zoehrer in Warschau interviewt, wo er am Human Dimension Implementation Meeting der OSZE (Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa) teilnahm.

Sie haben mit mehreren Mitgliedern der Kirche des Allmächtigen Gottes (KAG) über Verfolgung und Folter gesprochen – was haben Sie erfahren?

Nun, ich kann wirklich sagen, dass die letzten vier Tage meines Aufenthalts in Korea zu den intensivsten Tagen meines Lebens gehört haben. Sie waren anstrengend, aber gleichzeitig auch sehr bereichernd. In dieser Zeit habe ich mit 17 Mitgliedern der Kirche des Allmächtigen Gottes Interviews geführt. Und nicht nur das: Fünf meiner Gesprächspartner waren Opfer körperlicher Folter. Alle sind in China verfolgt worden. Sie sind nach Südkorea geflohen, um der ständigen Überwachung durch die KPCh (Kommunistische Partei Chinas) zu entgehen. Sie waren auf der verzweifelten Suche nach Religionsfreiheit.

Ich war entsetzt, als ich gesehen habe, wie Anti-Sekten-Gruppen vor ihrer Kirche in Seoul demonstriert und gefordert haben, die Mitglieder der Kirche sollten zurück nach China gebracht werden – wo doch jeder weiß, dass sie dort festgenommen, ins Gefängnis geworfen, verhört und gefoltert werden.

Während dieser kurzen Tage hatte ich die außergewöhnliche Gelegenheit, Mitglieder einer religiösen Gemeinschaft kennenzulernen, die seit den frühen 1990 schwerer Verfolgung durch die Kommunistische Partei Chinas ausgesetzt ist. Es heißt auf der KPCh-Liste der zwanzig “gefährlichsten Sekten“, befände sich die Kirche des Allmächtigen Gottes unter den ersten sieben.

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Posted in Anti-Cult Movement, CESNUR, China, Christians, Commentaries and Interviews, Europe, FoRB Violations, FOREF Europe, HRWF, Human Rights, Interviews, Peking, Persecution of Religious Groups, Religion, Religious Discrimination, Religious Freedom, Religious Intolerance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment