Church seeks U.N. intervention to halt government-instigated “climate of hate”

The Church of Scientology has today filed a complaint to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva, Ms. Mary Robinson, requesting U.N. intervention to halt the repeated violations of France’s international human rights commitments by the French government’s Interministerial Mission to Fight Against Sects (MILS), and its president, Alain Vivien.

The 25-page complaint vividly describes human rights abuses against individual French citizens caused by MILS’ McCarthy-like campaign of false propaganda and intolerance toward minority religions. It details 18 separate incidents in which members of the Church of Scientology suffered serious abuses of their rights, each a direct result of the campaign of religious intolerance MILS has fomented and directed. These incidents range from an attempt to bomb the Church of Scientology in Angers, to the Girl Scouts of France rejecting a little girl’s application for membership, to a Paris kindergarten’s refusal to admit a child — both denials based solely on the parents’ religion — to the boycotting of firms because of the Church membership of their executives.

Filed by international human rights counsel William C. Walsh of the Washington D.C.-based firm, Bisceglie & Walsh, the complaint documents a campaign of high-profile vilification by a MILS-sponsored group against a teacher in Paris’ 17th District. Because of scurrilous propaganda and false reports emanating from Vivien’s MILS, the teacher, who had an impeccable professional record, suffered public shunning and humiliation,leading to the loss of her job and ruin of her career.

Despite an unblemished 20-year career, a director of libraries in Lavallois Perret near Paris was suddenly demoted to a clerical position, losing her office, secretary and phone. City officials offered at first no explanation, but finally admitted that her work record was flawless and that her religion was the sole reason for the demotion. When a colleague demanded why the City did not protect its employees against religious intolerance, the Alderman bluntly replied that the current climate towards minority religions is “negative”.

“As president of MILS, Alain Vivien works with private, anti-religious groups to create a climate of intolerance that breeds discrimination,” said Danielle Gounord, President of the Church of Scientology in Paris.

Said Leisa Goodman, Human Rights Director of the Church of Scientology International, “MILS blatantly contravenes international human rights treaties that, as a government official, Vivien is bound to uphold. MILS’ hate campaign has escalated to the point that United Nations intervention is necessary to protect the rights of French citizens who have done nothing other than exercise their right to freedom of conscience.”

International human rights organizations, the U.S. State Department, U.S. Congressmen and Senators, the French Catholic and Protestant Churches, and more than 50 members of the Council of Europe have criticized or expressed dire concern over religious intolerance in France.

Church of Scientology representatives will continue to take action to focus international attention on MILS’ and Vivien’s human rights abuses, and to insist that France meet its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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