HUMAN RIGHTS. Romania proceeds against yoga practitioners

de Lodewijk Dros

Two years after their organization, ‘A danger to the state’ MISA yoga school was intented to be destroyed, 39 Romanian yoga practitioners are still waiting for a trial.

They are accused of human trafficking, but there is no beginning of trial, says Gabriela Ambarus, vice-chairman of the yoga group MISA. ‘Operation Christ’ was the name of the raid against Romanian yoga practitioners in 2004. With a show of power, the ‘The danger to the state, paramilitary organization, Romanian authorities tried to destroy MISA.

These accusations were, according to the Romanian division of the Helsinki Committee, never made concrete. The Committee accuses intervention of the authorities as ‘unlawful’ and ‘a violation of human rights’. The over 600 complaints that they submitted against the authorities action – that according to Amnesty International were ‘inhuman and a dishouner for humankind’ – were never answered, says Diana Calinescu of the Helsinki Committee.

Gabriela Ambarus, vice-chairman of MISA: “Yet still 39 people are suspected of human trafficking. After two years they should have been able to find some proof against us?”

By the end of 2005 MISA leader Gregorian Bivolaru received political asylum in Sweden because after return to Romania he would face ‘serious unfounded accusations’ and an unfair trial.

“In the light of Romania’s wish for accession to the EU, this is very worrying”, wrote the Christian-Democratic chairman of the commission for foreign affairs of the European Parliament, Elmar Bok, last year to the Romanian ambassador. Brok asked for an investigation of ‘Operation Christ’. One of the conclusions is: The yogas practitioners set up the whole raids in 2004 by themselves. According to the people concerned that is ‘ridiculous’.

According to Romanian yogi’s, the Secret Service listens to them and the Romanian Orthodox church feeds the disgust against yoga practice.
Gabrielle Ambarus: “The practicing of yoga is considered sufficient ground to dismiss somebody from Government service”.

The Liberal member of European Parliament Hennis-Plaaschaert finds that “The present Minister of Justice should dismiss all judges and officers. Otherwise she can never finish the past. More than half of the magistrates were already there under Ceausescu”. During the Communist times (until 1989) yoga was forbidden.

‘State danger’ Yoga
Freedom of belief in Romania

Freedom of religion and belief is not obvious in Romania, a country that will be a member of the European Union no later than 2008. Justice within a yoga movement invaded without any grounds, with much violence and broadcast on television.
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