Reactions and protests >>> Press releases >>> File 6D – sham file. 48 MISA yoga teachers unlawfully charged with human trafficking
File 6D/P/2004 charging professor yoga Gregorian Bivolaru together with other 47 MISA yoga teachers and students with human trafficking is a sham file ordered by Adrian Nastase, out of political reasons. The latter one’s sole purpose is to destroy the MISA yoga school and violate the freedom of consciousness of more than 37,000 MISA students and supporters.
Approximately 20 presumed offenders, MISA yoga teachers and students were summoned to appear before the Prosecutor’s Office by the Bucharest Court of Appeal on Monday, July 10th and Wednesday, July 12th, in relation to this file that the prosecutors claim to be finalized. On these days, between 9 - 11 a.m., MISA yoga school organized protest street demonstrations in front of the Prosecutor’s Office building, on the Scaune Street.
It is worth noticing that this is for the first time in Romania when such a charge – human trafficking within an organized criminal group – is brought for something other than prostitution. The charges regarding the alleged human trafficking in the 6D file were issued on the grounds of an association that is out of line. A millenary form of yoga – karma yoga, translated as voluntary work was abusively defined by the investigators as “work without payment.”
More exactly, this charge actually refers to the alleged exploitation of eight persons – members of three families, constituted as prejudiced parties, former yoga practitioners who inhabited on of the MSIA ashrams – by the 48 presumed offenders.
Brief presentation of the 6D file
This file was initiated with no offender and no prejudiced party on March 12th 2004 – a date not accidentally chosen, as it is the birthday of the MISA mentor, Gregorian Bivolaru. One week away, on March 18th 2004, 16 residences property of MISA practitioners were brutally searched. Starting with March 18th, during the months that followed the searches, hundreds of persons were heard in the prosecutors’ desperate attempt to find the offenders and the prejudiced parties for this new file. Yogis who were heard were threatened and blackmailed in order to force them to give statements that would incriminate Gregorian Bivolaru. Among them, only eight persons, members of three families answered to the dirty blackmail and accepted the demand of the Prosecutor’s Office to bring incriminating charges against the MISA spiritual mentor as well as against other 47 MISA teachers and students.
Thus, the Prosecutor’s Office charged 48 yogis with human trafficking and constitution of an organized criminal group. Prosecutors claim that the 48 allegedly used the spiritual authority granted by their quality of yoga teachers in order to force the eight persons to provide for their own living conditions in the establishments they inhabited. For having taken the trash bin out, driven the car, translated fragments of yoga books and cooked for themselves and other colleagues, the eight prejudiced parties claimed 8 million euros as damage compensation. For such astounding damage compensation, the Agency for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) sequestered 70 buildings property of MISA students.
What karma yoga actually is
The activity that the Prosecutor’s Office defined as yogi trafficking is a completely ordinary activity conducted by anyone wherever one lives together with other persons, namely cleaning, door keeping and small imminent reparations. Many yogis attending the MISA courses, who currently live or have ever lived in an ashram voluntarily offered their disinterested help to the yogi community, as an expression of common believes and ideals. There are hundreds of testimonies supporting such allegations.
Priest Karl-Erik Nylund, a well-known European expert with regard to sects, provided a definition of karma yoga and of the ashrams, in his report on MISA. The report in question, that actually proves that MISA is not a sect, was one of the main defense evidence during the trial at the High Court of Justice from Stockholm, Sweden. It is there that the two extradition requests filed by the Romanian state against Gregorian Bivolaru were ruled upon. According to the report, a MISA ashram is an ordinary establishment where people live together, similar to a student dormitory. The reason why people choose such a life style is to be able to practice yoga more. There are various types of yoga, and one of the yoga branches practiced at the MISA school is karma yoga. Nylund defines it as voluntary work. The conclusion to his report states that actually “karma yoga cannot be associated to human trafficking because it is a path chosen out of one’s free will.”
Human trafficking – ”and the bunny came out of the hat”
The charge of human trafficking brought against Gregorian Bivolaru represented the grounds of one of the two extradition requests filed to Sweden by the Romanian state.
The first request demanding that Gregorian Bivolaru be extradited to Romania was submitted by the Romanian Ministry of Justice on April 11th, 2005, based upon the arrest warrant of May 31st 2004, for alleged sexual offences involving a minor. These charges are currently on trial at the Sibiu Court of Law. An arrest warrant was issued for this alleged offence, via the Interpol and Gregorian Bivolaru thus turned into the first person who was ever internationally pursued for an unproved charge of sexual act with a minor.
While Gregorian Bivolaru was in the custody of the Malmo Police in Sweden, a second arrest warrant was issued against him. This warrant represented the grounds of the second extradition request filed by the Romanian state. The accusation he was charged with as he was detained in Malmo, namely human trafficking, is simply a misunderstanding of what karma yoga really means, as Nylund stated. The second extradition request was submitted on April 26th 2005, on basis of an arrest warrant issued on April 15th 2005, for alleged human trafficking.
It is worth noticing that this new pretrial arrest warrant is issued the very next day after the Alba-Iulia Court of Appeal accepted the appeal filed by Gregorian Bivolaru’s lawyers, that if positive, would have cancelled the first arrest warrant. A court decision ruling the ceasing of the pretrial arrest measure disposed against Gregorian Bivolaru would have left the extradition request filed by the Romanian authorities to the Swedish state with no actual grounds. In other words, the charges in question were the “bunny that came out” of the Romanian prosecutors’ hat who could have experienced the awkward position of no longer having any grounds to support their request demanding Gregorian Bivolaru’s extradition from Sweden.
The Swedish found the two extradition requests “hilarious” and thus rejected them on October 2005, through the highest Swedish court, which argued that “Gregorian Bivolaru runs the risk of being subjected to serious persecutions due to his religious believes”. He was therefore released and on the last day of the year 2005 he was also granted asylum in Sweden where he currently lives.
Adrian Năstase, the person who gave the order for the campaign against MISA
This new charge against the MISA mentor and the 47 yogis actually is a set-up ordered upon by Adrian Năstase. This fact is proved by the many references to MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru in the PSD – Social Democrat Party stenographs. Moreover, the searching of the yogis’ residences from March 18th 2004 was motivated by an SRI – Romanian Intelligence Service report. The report in question was supported by one of Adrian Nastase’s recommendations. More exactly, the SRI activity report on 2003, issued in 2004 resorted to a recommendation of the European Council Parliamentary Assembly (APCE) that in reality does not exist. Actually the document in question, number 8373/1999 is a report drawn up by Adrian Năstase. The former PSD leader was then reporting to the APCE Human Rights Legal Committee. The information in question has been recently published by the media.
In 2004 Adrian Năstase used certain prosecutors faithful to him as his instruments. These prosecutors are currently faced with a desperate situation. They no longer benefit from the support of the former prime minister, who has lost his power, and is not able to cover their serious abuses. Should they fail to come up with an accusation against the MISA leaders and yoga practitioners, they need to justify the huge amount of money, exceeding 2 million euros they have spent so far for this investigation.
MISA deems it necessary to highlight the absurd aspects pertaining to this file, since starting with March 18th 2004 hundreds of untruthful articles were written and a large number of slanderous news were broadcast with regard to this yoga school, while the position of the media in this matter was one-sided for a long time. We also demand that the presumption of innocence together with the right to state our own point of view when faced with charges brought against us – fundamental principles of journalism deontology – be also complied with as concerns the MISA subject.
MISA Press Office
July 10th 2006