Reactions and protests >>> International reaction >>> International Helsinki Federation
IHF Report 2005 confirming abuses against MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru:
"In March, over 300 police and gendarmes, prosecutors and SRI agents (the majority of them wearing masks) burst into 16 buildings where followers of the Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute (MISA, a group that promotes yoga philosophies and practices) were
accommodated. The agents broke down doors and smashed windows, although none of them were locked. They ill-treated every MISA member they found. Some MISA members were handcuffed and kept at gunpoint for hours. Their personal belongings were confiscated without due mention in official police reports. All actions were filmed by TV crews and aired in such a way as to give the public the idea that MISA was a criminal and dangerous organization. Moreover, some scenes showed MISA members filmed in embarrassing situations (a woman on the toilet seat, a syringe on the floor, thus suggesting the idea of drug use, people half naked, etc.). No MISA member was arrested during or after the raid. In the following days, over 20 additional searches were performed in the MISA community and tons of MISA documents were seized.
MISA had already before the raid been a target of sporadic harassment by the police and prosecutors. In addition, the media had published dramatic reports about parents whose grown-up children had abandoned them to join MISA. Such anti-MISA campaigning reached a peak first in 1995-1996, and again in 2004, now characterized by more violence. TV, radio and the print media continued the defamation campaign after the raid, taking for granted all the alleged crimes the prosecutors publicly linked with the community, including pornography, trafficking in women, and dealing in drugs.
APADOR-CH strongly protested the law enforcement officials’ actions against MISA members calling them disproportionate acts which involved unjustified use of excessive force and other misconduct - particularly in light of the fact that no one resisted the law enforcement officers. It noted that MISA, as an association, could not and should not be collectively accused of possible wrongdoings of its individual members. However, harassment against MISA, including the media campaign, continued until the spiritual leader fled Romania. Later he was accused of sexual intercourse with an underage MISA member, with the charges based solely on fragments of her intimate diary. The investigators put her under serious pressure to confess to having had sex with the spiritual leader. Moreover, she was forbidden any contact with other MISA followers and was placed under the strict surveillance of her sister. By the end of 2004, the problem remained unsolved from a judicial point of view. No known measures had been taken against the law enforcement agents for their unlawful actions. Confiscated personal belongings were not returned to their owners. Only the MISA spiritual leader was shortly detained in 2004 (before he fled) under a totally different pretext."
»IHF Romania Report 2005 (147kb pdf file)
»Link to The Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2005 (Events of 2004)
Association for the Defense of Human Rights In Romania - Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) Reports
"After the campaign against the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) (re)started in March 2004 by violent raids of over 300 gendarmes, prosecutors, policemen and Secret Services agent, as well as by massive media manipulation, the victims — MISA members and persons who attend yoga courses organized by MISA — lodged complaints at the General Prosecutors’ Office. Until February 2005, none of these complaints received a positive answer. The sole evolution in recognizing the rights of the victims was to notify them — at the beginning of 2005 — that they may get back the personal stuff taken during the raids. The persons who went to take their stuff claim that the prosecutors used insulting language and the process goes slowly: until now they couldn’t get back but a little part of their belongings. [...]"
»2004 draft report - MISA section (144kb pdf file)
»Link to the APADOR-CH Annual Report 2004
»Excerpts from 1996, 1997 reports (23kb pdf file)