Damaging The Image of Those Supporting The Yogis’ Rights: A Fearful Weapon in The Anti-MISA Campaign
The VIPs breaking the anti-MISA campaign had to face the personal offence artillery
by Maria Nicola
Romanian media has written a lot about MISA lately. Placed in the area of the cheap earful news the subject mostly made the top news and also produced money. Denigrating MISA raises the papers selling and also the TV shows rating. By climbing such a grotesque imaginery there emerged a completely different image than what the Romanian Yoga Movement actually is. Although average people do not really know what MISA actually is, they assign it by reflex to the sensational, ridiculous and anti-social. This is why whenever papers run out of topics and need some back-up scandal they call on MISA.
We dare say that the anti-MISA crusade is not only the work of the Romanian authorities. It’s not only the Intelligence Service, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Home Affairs Ministry that put it across. It’s the anti-MISA media campaign what pushed at a public scale the unjust repression of the Romanian yogis. Few people only have seen beyond this smoky wall (not curtain) built up by the media instigated, we dare say, by the authorities, who have only given half pieces of truth and debatable statements. There have been quite a few personalities curious enough to investigate the MISA topic at the source. There have been fewer again those who dared to make public statements about this.
Taking a bird-eye view, the amazing thing is the Romanian media choir when it comes to MISA. It’s one of the few cases when everybody seems to agree with each other. Specialists in communication would rather show suspicion in considering the uniform media reports, for they hide specific deliberate manipulations. Should we still be surprised at the vehement media attacks against the few brave persons who dared to defend MISA? Saying something good about MISA has lately been the price of one’s own image, particularly since the last 22 months.
Let us think plainly. Everyone claims himself a MISA specialist. Everyone has well-shaped opinions about Gregorian Bivolaru. But none of them knows us. They never took part to the actions on this Yoga School; they never got in contact to the yogis, never talked to Gregorian Bivolaru, never read any of his books. Against the background of such violent anti-MISA campaign, we actually realize there is something missing… the yogis. The yogis themselves, their opinion, their version upon all the events referred to, these are never covered in press. Well, this is pretty good reason to make us believe that the media image about MISA is not at all according to reality.
Along years, some well known figures in the social life have given at least occasional refference to the Movement of Spiritual Integration into the Absolute. There have been reports and investigations shown. There have been articles written. Some of those who did not prove criticism towards MISA have been given penalties in media and labelled as yogis’ fans or friends. In case they even joined some actions of MISA in order to make sure and then declared they hadn’t seen any outrageous facts there, they were even more harshly called “followers” or “tantric sex experts”. Hence the oppressive silence of the society and public personalities concerning the topic. If asked straight questions, many politicians steer clear of the subject. But the symptoms are ever the same: they keep stressing in a vexatious way they have nothing to do with MISA, they do not practice yoga and completely disagree Gregorian Bivolaru’s ideas. Just for the sake of their image, of course.
Denigration against people supporting MISA at different moments, no matter it concerns the defence of the fundamental human rights, is a terrible weapon in the campaign against MISA.
Renate Weber and Monica Macovei
The Association for the Defence of the Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee (APADOR-CH) has repeatedly denounced the authorities’ abuses in the MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru cases. Between 1994 and 1999, this association has been headed by Renate Weber (photo) and between 2002 and 2004 by Monica Macovei.
After the 2004 elections, when Traian Basescu became Romania’s President and the D.A. Political Coalition made the governmental majority, Renate Weber was appointed President Counsellor on juridical issues and Monica Macovei became Minister of Justice. Thereby prompt broadside emerged against both of them concerning the APADOR-CH reports.
On January 2005, the national daily Gardianul launched a violent broadside against M. Macovei and R. Weber and issued collocated columns on this topic: “The presidential counsellor, supporter of the yogis rights in between 1996 – 1997” no author given and “Monica Macovei and Renate Weber blocking up the GURU Bivolaru file”, by Lidia Popeanga and Al. Racoviceanu. A headline writes “The jurists leaders of APADOR-CH, the organization pointing to the MISA investigation are now the heads of Justice”. The first column is discordantly sampled with some blurred photo of a woman dancing naked in front of Gregorian Bivolaru, who sits there his eyes closed.
The manipulating intention is obvious. It turns redundant, of course, saying that none of the articles clearly refers to the way the Bivolaru file is blocked, although the title firmly cried out that the two jurists had blocked the file.
The daily Gardianul continued the violent broadside against the newly appointed Minister of Justice and presidential counsellor at that time and issued in “Today Quiz” column questions like: Do you think that Monica Macovei and Renate Weber are going to block the MISA investigations? Do you think that “Guru” Bivolaru would have been caught if the Romanian authorities had given reward? etc.
They can even get into more filthy games yet. The 28 September 2005 edition of the daily Tricolorul, lately quoted by the daily Romania Mare titles the column “A question a day?”: “Is it true that Monica Macovei practices yoga and is a member of MISA? The answer is yes, the Minister of Justice certainly is a yogi. As for her attending the sect of Gregorian Bivolaru, that’s what other folk say, we don’t say it. After all, since the judge Simona Lungu is a member of MISA, why shouldn’t Monica Macovei be, for she would definitely care for it, as much as she is after sex and beverage…. (The blue-eyed guys).”
Gabriel Andreescu is an APADOR-CH member and he often stood up to denounce the glaring human rights breach in the investigation and the broadside against MISA. He is again the author of many editor columns issued by the Ziua daily, remarkable by the well-balanced and lucid manner in approaching the subject. Since he has been repeatedly attending numerous activities of MISA, including the protests after March 18, 2004, and also he had known Gregorian Bivolaru since the communist times, Gabriel Andreescu could have made a credible factor for the journalist in considering the Bivolaru case. Nevertheless, as he admitted it himself in some interview for the Yoga Magazine, he had been barely asked for information in this respect.
At the beginning of April 2004, Gardianul issues “Would you have Bivolaru “deeply penetrate” your daughter?” an article signed by Gabriel Stanescu, honourable professor of journalism ethics in the Journalism Faculty, the author of the ethic code adopted by the Romanian Press Club. The title triggers some sort of repulsion from the very beginning, which will then be the very filter for the meaning of the column. The explicit subculture slang, despite the inverted commas is meant to increase the reader’s repulsion against the MISA, “their practices”, against all their supporters, namely Gabriel Andreescu.
Here is an excerpt of the article: “As for the “polished intellectuals”, professional NGO members, screwing up their nose for no matter what I may say they are terribly wrong this time. […] however Gabriel Andreescu as much as those who are thinking like him should answer a question: would they agree on behalf of the freedom of thinking and expression to let their daughters at Gregorian Bivolaru’s hand, let him “deeply penetrate them, let him “piss in their mouth”, let them attend sexual orgies and consent the detention in the ashrams where he washes their brains so that they repudiate their family? As a refined intellectual, in order to avoid the essence of the question, Mr. Andreescu might say this is worn-out stereotypes. Therefore he will probably find some sophism here, just as he is convicted that the Hungarian citizen enjoy the full right to set an autonomous organisation in the Romanian state, despite the European Convention of the Minorities which provides individual rights and not collective”.
We cannot help wondering in amazement: did Gabriel Stanescu miss the lesson on the non-guilty presumption he teaches himself to the students? Among the pile of rubbish articles of the anti-MISA broadside, the above article greatly competes the dirtiest award.
Ulla Sandbaek used to hold a high position in the European Parliament; she is a minister in the North Congregation of Copenhagen. In may 2004, the Romanian TV station Prima TV delivered an interview that Mrs. Sandbeak had had for a Danish television. The Romania media broadcast this event, as Ulla Sandbaek’ attitude was unlike the general tone in the media anti-MISA campaign. She claimed herself disgusted with the disparagement of MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru and she got in contact with Romania’s ambassador in Brussels asking for proofs and details about the accusations stated against MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru. In case of the lack of evidence, the European Parliament member was going to notice the European Parliament.
Ullei Sandbaeck stand up was taxed by part of the Romanian media and she was labelled “Bivolaru supporter”. The daily Ziarul for instance, the 17 may edition, issued this news under the title “A European Parliament member, Bivolaru supporter” by Simona Filip, “Sandbaek is conversant with the tantric sex, as she had previously attended the yoga courses taught by Bivolaru”, the column goes as a shoulder of mutton for a sick horse (Ulla Sandbaek is no yoga practitioner, actually). Next, the journalist informally refers to Mrs. Sandbaek as “the woman”.
The fact that a member in the European Parliament is a supporter of Gregorian Bivolaru and stresses the weak points in that case or gives importance raises questions. But this no longer works if the EP member is denigrated.
One year after this article, on April 16, 2005, Gardianul issues the article “Bivolaru given advice to ask for political asylum in Sweden, by the priest – member of the EP Ulla Sandbaek”, by Sorin Simion. The under title is absolutely shocking: “The member of the European Parliament, gays’ supporter”. The column says: “An interesting fact to notice about Ulla Sandbaek: beyond being a member of the European Parliament, she is a notorious activist for the defence of the sexual minorities’ rights. Also, Ulla Sandbaek is a minister of some cult in Denmark and a frantic militant for the official acknowledge of the homosexual marriages”.
The yogaesoteric team asked for an interview to Mrs. Sandbaek in April 2005 in order to make things clear for the accusations stated in media against her. The conclusion was again that Gardianul made again a mountain of a moll hill. During her EP membership she had voted some law concerning the homosexual couples. That’s all. Counting on the instinctive rejection of the Romanian audience in the delicate area of homosexuality, the media starts naming her “frantic supporter of homosexuals” and says about Gregorian Bivolaru that he is allegedly accused of “sodomy against three minors” (instead of sexual relationship with an underage).
Another article in Gardianul, on June 11, 2005 titles “The European Parliament member, supporter of Bivolaru had participated to the MISA spirals in the yoga Costinesti camp”. Instead of showing appreciation to this personality, who in order to assess the MISA activities, visited Romania and participated for seven days to the yoga camp in Costinesti, the journalists label her as sectarian and “MISA follower”.
At the end of March 2004, the well-known radio and TV presenter, Andrei Gheorghe hosted in his TV show on Antena1 at that time some members of the Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute. The debate obviously went around the accusations of the authorities and of the media broadside against MISA.
On April 1st 2004, the daily Adevarul issues a hard broadside against Andrei Gheorghe, his guests and Gregorian Bivolaru. The column signed by Magda Mihailescu “TV chronicle – The nagged Bivolarus” makes a distinctive note through the contemptuous tone. Andrei Gheorghe is now referred to as “the presenter who once was not afraid to drop his pants in front of the audience”, the followers of the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute are referred to as “the adepts of the street guru, the bivolars, the debauched of the MISA flock, the subjects”, Gregorian Bivolaru is labelled as “the emperor, vouching happiness”. There occur such statements as “the wig pulled off Bivolaru’s skull, the image of the naked bodies curling together, they all swarm naked”. The column is obviously meant to mock at Andrei Gheorghe and Gregorian Bivolaru as much as at the MISA representatives attending the above mentioned show. The article also effects the alleged recovering of the MISA image, subsequent to Gheorghe’s show.
And again Monica Macovei
In October, 2005, Sweden rejected the extradition request for Gregorian Bivolaru. In December 2005, he is granted the refugee status in Sweden. One of the reasons for the decision of the Supreme Court of Sweden is the instigation to opprobrium against Gregorian Bivolaru displayed the authorities with media support. Instead of asking righteous questions or changing attitude, part of the media rushes over Monica Macovei, who had dared to ask for a thorough checking of the observance of the human rights in the case of Gregorian Bivolaru.
Here is a column issued by Averea on January 5, 2006: “INCREDIBLE. The extradition request for “Guru” was denied for the Ministry of Justice had not submitted the charging evidence. Bivolaru favoured by the Ministry of Justice” (signed by A. Anghelescu and R. Savaliuc). That’s just a trick to weight on Monica Macovei the responsibility of the extradition denial and it also shifts focus from due investigation on the Romanian authorities abuses, grounds for the political asylum granted to Gregorian Bivolaru.
There are yet harder attacks from other analysts. Valentin Stan’s article “At cleft because of the Guru”, issued by Jurnalul National, on January 13, 2005 is a typical case of changing debates into personal offence. To quote the editor: “…Monica Macovei, the Minister of Justice rather looks like a Hollywood movie star, floating down to the marvellous realm of the political vaudeville by the bank of Dambovita. She perfectly features a vocal role where is supposed to pose a lot and speak even more; Mrs. Macovei learns her cues to give them back later on frowned, her hands on the hips, shouting firmly at the Major Council of Magistrates, to the judges and prosecutors, to all those who do not fit the messianic scenario she had been inspired by the Holly Spirit. Just like a full-mouthed woman of the classical comedies in the epoch of Basescu…”. The column keeps going in the same mockery tone to conclude in a clumsy logic that “Macovei does not have the slightest idea about the international and national law on extradition; therefore she seriously mistakes the European Convention on Extradition for the Romanian law 302/2004 concerning the international judiciary cooperation on penal law.”
The above sampling references fully point out the way media used the denigration techniques in the anti-MISA campaign. All those who broke the cacophonic choir blaming the yogis were immediately hit over. Should we still be surprised at some balanced journalists’ need to complete any argument on breaking Gregorian Bivolaru’s human rights with irrational insults? Should we still be surprised at the cautious and obviously party silence of the civil society?
Also available in: Română