The young woman who won the trial at the ECHR makes shocking revelations regarding the ordeal she was subjected to, only because she practices yoga
Her impressive testimony reveals a genuine model of verticality and resistance against the abuses of a system of guilty complicity of the state, who declared war against the yogis for over 10 years
The facts presented in this interview seem to be taken from a horror fiction. For the naive one, it may seem unbelievable that such events took place in Romania over the last couple of years. The illusion that we live in a democracy, where fundamental human rights are respected, is shattered. But everything that this young woman reports is accompanied by documents and official results. It took the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on the 16th of September 2014, for an outrageous abuse created and tolerated by the Romanian state authorities to be exposed and punished.
Dana Ruxandra Atudorei, although severely tested, graduated from Law School. She has no way to forget the nightmare she experienced when she was forcibly hospitalized twice by her own parents at her mental hospital in order to prohibit her from attending the yoga courses of the MISA school. No medical document indicated that this girl ever suffered from any mental illness. Nevertheless, Dana was sedated with extremely powerful neuroleptics through completely illegal procedures that were covered by the state institutions. Moreover, based on this case, in association with the press, the authorities tried to manipulate the public opinion by saying that yoga practice at MISA is very dangerous. Later on, also speculating other similar cases, criminal files were made up with the sole justification, the fact that the parents of young people who practice yoga at MISA are desperate and MISA is but a scourge that destroys the Romanian society.
In contrast with the particularly traumatizing experiences from the past, this woman still has the power to smile. Talking to her, we understand that the light from her face comes from an inner flame, an insatiable thirst for life, joy and purity.
Yogaesoteric: How are you, Dana, seeing that finally, after ten years, justice has been done to you?
Dana Atudorei: It is relative to say that justice has been done. I say this because if you think about it, all the abuses that were committed against me were actually paid with the money of Romanian citizens. They paid for the hospitalization, they paid for the neuroleptics, the prosecutors, the police officers, the judges, the magistrates, and now, ironically, they also pay for compensation. The culprits are still in their positions and it is likely that the Romanian citizens will continue to pay in the future for other illegalities that prosecutors such as Fântână Rodica, Sandu Elena and Marius Iacob commit on a daily basis at work, covering one another.
For me, it is rather a moral victory, a restoration of my dignity as a human being. But my health, my stolen youth, the media scandals, the public humiliations, everything I have suffered can no longer be redeemed. The 15.600 euros that the Romanian state was forced to pay me represent a very small sum compared to the size of the abuse. Imagine that I was on trial for nine years, I had eight lawyers, I exhausted all remedies available in Romania, I went from court to court, term after term, month after month, year after year. In the initial stages, one of the files was disjoint and at a certain point I had three simultaneous files in three different cities. Plus the one at the College of Physicians.
YE: Please, tell us how was this fight for you and how were you treated by the Romanian state authorities in your efforts.
D. A.: Yes, you used well the world “fight”. Personally, I felt it as a fight not to be crushed, a fight for my freedom, a fight for the human inside me. A fight against the manipulation of the public opinion, a battle that was unfair from the start. A dull fight, when no one hears you, a fight in which you struggle and struggle and when you lose your strength you still need to fight again.
It is very difficult to find the strength to wake up every day to go to a different prosecutor who will hear you again, for four hours, who treats you as a criminal, not as a victim. And then, you must have, for instance, the inner force to stand respectfully before a panel of judges whose president leaves the room as you, the citizen who complains, get up to speak. No matter how unjust and how outrageous these things might seem, you must remain silent when – another example – the chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Medical College has the nerve to tell you in session: “Come on, miss, why do you keep going on about all these side effects of the Leponex… water has side effects too! Also the air…!”
And I must say that in Romania, I never attended judgment on the merits, the facts themselves. I only challenged in court the prosecutors’ decisions not to prosecute and I reported that they refused to do elementary actions that were mandatory in my case.
What else can I tell you…
I turned 21 at the Nifon Psychiatric Hospital. For my birthday I received a new dose of Leponex, an extremely dangerous drug that was only administered in very severe cases of schizophrenia, when the patient fails to respond to other treatments. I was never diagnosed with schizophrenia and I had never received any medication for mental disorders. They gave this one to me directly, without specialized advice, without a commission, as required by law. Meanwhile, following numerous complaints submitted by my boyfriend (now, my husband), a police officer came to the Nifon hospital where I was held against my will. When I saw him I told him I was brought by force but he practically did not care.
Do you know what he said? That when I leave the hospital I should file a complaint against my parents, and because of his indifference I was administered Leponex for two more months. But who cared that I was sedated, that saliva was pouring out of my mouth!??
Later, after being discharged, the same police officer, whose name is Compotecras Anghel Gheorghe, was brought by my father by car in a place where my family kept me isolated at my grandparents, in a village from Bacau county, so that I could contact no one. They sat down, gave him a drink (my father was driving) and finally, the police officer, with pressure and threats, made me sign a document stating that I do not demand research against my family! My boyfriend (fiancee) had filed several complaints at ll institutions and for this reason, my parents and the police officer wanted to take some precautions. I was crying and even wrote on the same piece of paper how aggressively I was kidnapped but simply nothing mattered. I did not matter! He stood and looked at my cry for two hours without a trace of compassion on his face. Then, he put on his shoes and got into my father’s car and left.
This agent then filed a report suggestion no prosecution against those my boyfriend had accused of depriving me of my freedom. Do you know what he wrote in that report? That “in question, no elements were detected leading to the conclusion that Crăescu Dana’s parents acted against her will.” Such lie and insolence!! Then his suggestion for no prosecution was supported by his superiors, prosecutor Curea Nicolae and chief prosecutor Fântână Rodica.
It is amazing what this chief prosecutor from Bârlad wrote in her resolution. She says that because my parents saw on television what they say about MISA, it was natural for them to take me by force!!! I can even quote: “In a context where parents saw on television and found out from the press what happens on the MISA premises with young women, it was natural for them, to bring their daughter home by all means and attempt her physical and mental recovery.” What kind of prosecution is that?!? And where are my rights?? Since when does a prosecutor take what they say on television as objective facts and evidence that do not have to be researched??!!
And here we are, because all these people did not act in any way – although I was not underage, I was 21! – I was administered Leponex for a few more months. The fact that I was constantly peeing myself and I had an uninterrupted menstruation did not matter for all these state officials who were aware of what I suffered from.
I did not matter, I was so young, so shy, small and insignificant that all these “important people” thought they could dispose of my life however they saw fit. They did what they wanted in the official documents, violating all my rights. They probably thought that I did not have the strength to defend myself anyway… And even if I had said something, who would have believed me, “the crazy woman from MISA”!??
My observation chart stated under reasons for admission that “I was a part of this dis-cultural informal groups”. During my confinement, they even specified on the chart that it was MISA. But – who would have thought – when the people from the Disciplinary Committee of the Medical College requested this chart, it had already been changed! And besides the fact that it was no longer the same, the medical tests were also missing! Since it is a highly dangerous drug, Leponex has a special administration protocol and all patients necessarily make weekly analyses because Leponex destroys the immune system and it may cause agranulocytosis. The fact that these results “had vanished” shows that in reality my white blood cell count was below acceptable standards and the doctor wanted to hide it.
However, we lost the trial against the Medical College of Buzău. But we submitted an appeal before the Superior Commission for Discipline in Bucharest, which took more than a year. They sent the documentation from one specialist to another all over the country and nobody wanted to give an opinion against the doctor that had “treated” me, Ionescu Adrian. Because he had an international reputation at that time, he had written some books and he was considered a leading authority. Finally, the head of the department of psychiatry at Carol Davila University, dr. Dan Prelipceanu filed his conclusions against this doctor. Then another doctor did the same and we finally won. It was an important step.
Next, the HCCJ general prosecutor also requested the observation chart. Interestingly, they received a different version of this chart from doctor Ionescu. And several years after, the Romanian government also requested this medical document and out of thin air, a third version emerged, different from the first two. All the documentation, from all the institutions that had managed my case, finally reached the ECHR judges, who could thus analyze three copies of my hospital chart, stamped as complying with the original, yet all different from each other!!!!!
I have made a complaint against the Romanian state before ECHR twice, according to the files solved in Romania. One file was against the prosecutors for “white collar abuse and and aiding and abetting” and the other one was against the doctor, my family and the police officer who “helped” my father. This second file was for “deprivation of liberty and grievous bodily harm”.
After analyzing my complaint, ECHR sent nine questions to the Romanian government. I must say that the Government has a team of experienced judges dealing with special cases.
They wrote an extremely dense response, to give the impression that it is very well documented. They sent all the paperwork from all the institutions concerned, plus two volumes of law in the matter, redundant documents that had no direct connection to the case. Their answer was literally “heavy”! I can say that they did everything possible to make the work of the ECHR as difficult as possible.
Let us look, for instance, at their official answer (the Romanian state’s) where government agent Răzvan-Horațiu Radu states: „The Government claims that reliable sources indicated that the applicant was suffering from a mental disorder.” But what were those reliable sources. Well, that is not specified. You can see the cynicism and superficiality of a Romanian magistrate!!! Moreover, he “politely ask the court to dismiss the aplican’t request”!!!
I want to tell you that when I filed the original complaint in the case with my family and the doctor, my file wandered around five prosecutor’s offices. It seemed it was not anyone’s competence and no prosecutor would take the case. And another thing: even today, doctor Ionescu was never heard. Neither was the chief prosecutor Fântână Rodica (the one who allowed that I was drugged for almost nine months because according to her superior magistrate view “it was the natural” thing to do on the part of my family, because “their daughter was part of MISA”).
The Romanian prosecutors gave the “no prosecution” order eight times in response to my complaints. There was only one prosecutor and one judge, in ten years, who ordered the research of the file, but their colleagues were careful not to make any real investigation in my case. My requests were rejected five times by the Romanian courts, including the nine judges panel from the HCCJ. No one ever looked into my case objectively in Romania!
In his resolution of 25.06.2008, the chief prosecution of the criminal investigation and forensics division of the HCCJ, Marius Iacob, covered the illegalities committed by his colleagues, claiming that their solutions, “can not form the basis of criminal liability.” The resolution in question has five pages but it does not even mention the fact that I was admitted to the insane asylum, nor do the words “Leponex” or “deprivation of liberty” appear anywhere. The moment that I was kidnapped from the middle of the street is described as follows: “there was a contradictory conversation and in the end the aggrieved party left in her parents’ car.”
Namely a full circumvention of the essential issue that I also have the right to liberty and dignity! It is important to show that prosecutor Marius Iacob received most complaints from the yogis who suffered abuses during the raids of 2004. All the complaints of the yoga practitioners submitted to this prosecutor were rejected without conducting any kind of investigation in their case!
YE.: How did the media scandal triggered against you affect you?
D. A.: I did not matter to the media either; I was just an unimportant piece in a puzzle their used for their manipulations. The fact that my life was destroyed was a completely “collateral” fact to the journalists. Many times, in the context of the so-called “MISA scandal” they called me crazy in public. How could I go out among people. What relationships could I have with my friends and acquaintances. However, I want to emphasize one thing: although on TV, they called me “crazy”, I was never diagnosed with a mental illness that could have been deemed likely to alter my judgment. No matter how many psychiatric abuses were committed against me, how many hospitalizations, now many how many neuroleptics I was administered, I was never labeled as lacking discrimination. And this clearly highlights the journalists’ lies about me.
Although I received the medication indicated in cases of resistant schizophrenia, I was allegedly hospitalized for “borderline personality disorder”, which does not mean much anyway. “Borderline” does not mean that you are crazy, it just says that there is a disorder, that you are on the “borderline”. It is even said that in some cases, every human being manifests a slightly deviated behavior. And considering the way I was treated, this would have not been surprising. So, even at Nifon, I was not diagnosed with schizophrenia, which makes it all the more outrageous, the fact that I was administered medication for resistant schizophrenia! The only place I was declared “insane” was in the low manipulation on television.
My entire ordeal with the media started with the “PRO TV News”. Immediately after the searches in 2004, PRO TV claimed that the action was initiated following the complaints of several parents and of these several parents, only my mother was broadcast on all stations, and they only spoke about me. Then there were other shows and articles, who always gave me as the bad example, in order to justify their allegations about MISA.
YE: So here is how your case was used to instrument, to produce MISA files and to manipulate public opinion
D. A.: Yes, exactly. I felt harassed, I received phone calls from the people I knew. I often heard the words: “Dana, quickly, open the television, your mother is on a show!” or “Hurry, there’s something on about you!” Right now I do not want any more television. I have had enough. There have been so many shows that I lost track of them. Only one of them presented things correctly, with an actual journalistic investigation. It was presented during a show called “The Magic Eye” on the Romanian National Television and it was conducted by a reporter whose name is Marius Georgescu. One objective example of journalism in ten years! And from what I hear, Marius Georgescu was in big trouble for having the courage to tell the truth on that show.
However, even if my “madness” was only declared on television, almost everyone believed it. It is very difficult to see people whom you love and trust to treat you like a freak. Imagine that because of this media display, all my relatives still think that I am crazy. All my childhood friends, all my high school classmates, everyone I know… I confess that if it weren’t for my husband, I would feel extremely alone…
YE.: What can you say for the Romanian yoga practitioners who also suffered from the abuses against this yoga school?
D. A.: When a sufficient number of people who chose to practice yoga at MISA will rise, will take action and will stand firm against these abuses, this discrimination and this manufacturing of cases, they will cease. What matters really is to have the inner strength to vigorously and persistently oppose injustice and hold on more than your abusers can perpetrate that injustice. This is how Gandhi won India’s independence and – maintaining the proportions – this is how I won against the Romanian state at ECHR. I never gave up, no matter how much pressure and threats I was subjected to, even when everything seemed hopeless.
An attacker can manipulate and dominate only if he manages to inoculate fear and guilt. Due to the defamatory media campaign – skillfully orchestrated to justify in the eyes of the civil society in Romania the illegalities perpetrated by state institutions – most yoga practitioners in Romania now avoid to admit in public their belonging to MISA. We must cease to be afraid and fight for our rights. We are human, it is our right as human beings!
Shame, public opprobrium, the “guilt” of being a yogi were created artificially in Romania through the agency of the media. We are now some sort of “Balkan Falun Gong”, created, induced and maintained by means of mass psychosis. But this situation can only control our life to the extent to which we allow it.
When the “critical mass” of the people who are aware of these issues will be reached, the current of opinion in Romania will have to change. It is in our power to change this rigged current of opinion, every day, by standing against it. Which is of course not easy. Although we are still ridiculed, I believe that if we manifest powerfully, full of dignity and perseverance, eventually the truth will come to light. I do believe and hope that my example is a new beginning. Thank you!
YE: And we thank you, Dana. We are and we will continue to be by your side.
Also available in: Română