Final declaration of the International scientific and practical conference «Totalitarian sects - a threat to the human rights in Eastern Europe», Vinnitsa (Ukraine), October 8-10, 2002
We, the participants of the International scientific and practical conference «Totalitarian sects – a threat to human rights in the Eastern Europe» – psychologists, psychotherapists, lawyers, theologians, sectariologists, officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and of other state institutions, high schools, public and antisectarian centers, the attendants of traditional religions, being citizens of different states, people of different nationalities, beliefs and confessions – express our extreme concern about a threat to the human rights and democratic freedom, which has hung over some countries of the Eastern Europe, and Ukraine in particular, in connection with totalitarian sects (destructive cults), that mainly cause this problem. Uncontrolled activity of totalitarian sects (destructive cults) has a character of barefaced expansion, harming irreparably people’s health, violating fundamental human rights and creating a threat to the family, society and state. Totalitarian sects are defined as authoritarian organizations of a special nature, the leaders of which, striving for authority above their followers and exploitation of the last, hide their intentions under religious, political, psychotherapeutic, health-restoring, educational, scientific and cognitive, cultural and other coverings. Totalitarian sects resort to deceit, pretermition and obtrusive propaganda to attract new members; they use censorship of the information that their members receive; they resort to other unethical ways of control of personality, to psychological pressure, intimidation and other forms of keeping members in the organization. Thus, totalitarian sects break human rights to free informed choice of ideology and mode of life. Besides this, an association is considered to be a sectarian one, if it denies the whole culture beyond its own limits. In opinion of the Conference participants, the danger of totalitarian sects consists, in particular, in the fact that their authoritarian structure often interferes with the universally recognized democratic values, that their basic ideology and claims for absolute correctness of leaders in a question of «soul saving» tempt people and capture those who are in search of self-changing and of new reference points, as well as in the fact that their members are required to obey implicitly (for this purpose brutal threats are often used). The negative consequences of membership in these sects may include the following: non-enrolment at school and vocational educational institutions of the members, radical changes of their personality and loss of perception of the reality that may result in conflicts with relatives and friends. Besides, as a result of changes in reference points and ideology of a person, and also due to the special methods of influence on his state of mind, used by sects, some psychosocial problems may arise. The alienation of sect’s members from environment, concentration on their internal world, aggression against sect’s own members and strangers in fanatical upholding of «soul saving ideology» as well as renunciation of critical thinking are also considered to be dangerous consequences. Such features, as inclination to dependence, lack of initiative and restraint, evoked in a personality, frequently increase due to the rallied nature of such group. Deception through subtle methods of manipulation and psychological violence, deliberate penetration of these sects into the sphere of politics and economy show us the danger of totalitarian organizations. The practice of psychological violence, labour and financial exploitation of adherents, their social isolation and total restrictions of personal freedom by using methods of manipulation and mindcontrol, impairment of mentality and health, a number of deaths, lead to the conclusion: totalitarian sects in their activities regularly break Common Declaration of Human Rights, in particular: - Article 3, which states: «Each person has the right for life, freedom and personal immunity». - Article 4: «Nobody must be held in slavery or in dependent condition; slavery and slave trade are forbidden in all their kinds». Several sects not only participate in the criminal people trading but often really put their members into the slavish conditions (for example, the sect called «The Church of Scientology» and others). - Some sects break the Article 5, which states: «Nobody must be exposed to tortures or be treated and punished in a brutal or humiliating way» (for example, ISKCON (Hare Krishna)). - The infringement of Article 12: «Nobody can be exposed to any intervention in his personal and family life…» - is a constant practice of totalitarian sects (for example, neocharismatic sects). - In some sects (in particular, in the sect of Moon) the infringement of items 2, 3 of Article 16 («Marriage can be contracted only in case of free and full consent of both marrying sides. Family is a natural and basic cell of society and has the right for protection on the part of society and state») has acquired the status of the cult doctrine. - The infringement of Article 17, saying: «Nobody must be deprived of his property arbitrarily» - is the actual purpose of creation of the majority of destructive cults. In this case use of methods of manipulation and violence has especially sophisticated character. - By using the methods of deceitful recruitment, informational isolation and mind control, exploiting of phobias with the purpose of adherents retention all totalitarian sects break Article 18 - «each person has the right for freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs and also freedom to confess one’s religion or beliefs...»; Article 19 – «each person has the right for freedom of belief and of their free expression; this right includes freedom without any obstruction to adhere to one’s beliefs and freedom to search for, receive and distribute information and ideas by all means…» - and also item 2 of Article 1 of the Declaration about elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief (resolution 36/55 of the General Assembly of UNO): «nobody must be exposed to the compulsion, belittling one’s freedom to have religion or belief of one’s own choice...». - Use of psychological violence at recruitment makes us to state the infringement of item 2 of Article 20: «Nobody can be forced to enter any association». - Social isolation of adherents, their disengagement from public processes, which are practiced in a number of sects (for example, at «Jehovah’s Witnesses») breaks Article 21: «Each person has the right to take part in ruling his country directly or via freely elected representatives», - and also item 29: «Each person has duties before society, in which full and free development of his personality is possible» (for example, «Jehovah’s Witnesses», a number of neocharismatic sects, ISKCON Hare Krishna). - Rigid regulation of behavior, use of no-charge or poorly paid work by means of psychological compulsion, breaks Article 23: «Each person has the right for work, for a free choice of work, for fair and favorable working conditions and for protection against the unemployment. Each person without any discrimination has the right for equal payment for equal work. Everyone working has the right for the fair and satisfactory compensation, which providies worthy personal existence for him and his family, supplemented, if necessary, with other means of social security», and also Article 24 and 25. - Article 26: «Each person has the right for education» - is broken by a number of the totalitarian sects, which practice practical deprivation of adherents and their children of the given right (for example, in sect of Vissarion «Church of the Last Behest»). - For almost each totalitarian sect the infringement of Article 27 is characteristic – «Everyone has the right to participate freely in cultural life of society, to enjoy art, participate in scientific progress and use its achievements». - The practice of illegal involving of minors directly breaks item 2 of Article 5 of the Declaration about elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief: «Each child has the right for access to education in the field of religion or belief according to desires of his parents or, in the appropriate cases, lawful trustees and is not forced to training in the field of religion or belief against desires of his parents or lawful trustees, and the managing principles are the interests of a child», - and item 5 of the same Article: «The practice of religion or belief in which a child is brought up, must not cause damage either to his physical or intellectual health, nor to his full development…». Besides, the activity of totalitarian sects breaks a number of other international acts and theses of national legislation of Ukraine and other countries, citing of which is impossible because of the size of this Final Declaration. All above-stated facts became the reason of the active public and governmental policy of the European countries and the Council of Europe, directed on protection of the civil rights against the threat of the totalitarian sects. Having realized that the democratic principles are threatened with new danger, which is in many respects similar to Nazism (according to comparison of German sectariologists), Europe has accepted a number of measures limiting the destructive activity of sects. In this connection and also in connection with a higher level of competence of Western Europe population, an epicenter of sectarian activity moved to the countries of Eastern Europe. Such stereotype, that any cult group is good, as it «carries belief in something good», being false, received an undeserved distribution in Ukraine and in some other countries of Eastern Europe. As a result we observe the occurrence of enormous number of destructive cults, which exceeded that number in the countries of the European Union. Proceeding from all above-stated facts and on basis of the decision of the Assembly of the European Council from 22.06.1999, proclaiming the necessity of creation of the European organization for observation over the groups of religious, esoteric or spiritual direction (that would considerably facilitate the information exchange between appropriate centers of states-members) and also that the Council of Europe should also undertake measures for encouragement of creating information centers in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, we address: - To the Council of Europe, deputies of the European Parliament and to the managers of FECRIS (the European Federation of Centers for Research and Information on Sectarianism) with the petition about the encouragement of activity directed on protection of civil freedoms against sectarian totalitarianism in the countries of Eastern Europe, and rendering of all kinds of aid to the antisectarian organizations in Eastern Europe, and also about realization of information policy concentrated on informing of authorities of East European countries about the European position concerning the danger of totalitarian sects. - To the government of Ukraine and of other countries of Eastern Europe with the suggestion to take strict measures (including legislative), following the example of civilized European countries (for instance, France, Belgium and Germany) in restriction of destructive activity of sects. We insist on fidelity of the European Council’s position, that «realization of the right for freedom of conscience must not be realized through infringement of other citizens». - To East European organizations (public, religious, scientific, private),that conduct research, information and rehabilitation activity in sphere of protection of family and personality from totalitarian sects and psychological violence: it is high time to begin coordinated interaction of the East European organizations; consolidation would allow us to exchange experience, information, scientific researches more productively and to cooperate with national authorities, with the Council of Europe and other international organizations to solve the problem of dominance of totalitarian sects in Eastern Europe. The participants of the Conference put forward the initiative of creation of the confederate East European organization, and offer the colleagues in the countries of Eastern Europe to join this given initiative. - We call mass-media to warn citizens about the danger of destructive cults. Only the information can serve as reliable protection against deceit and psychological violence. We consider it to be necessary to highlight on pages of newspapers and to broadcast not only the information about the danger of sects, but also about their methods of psychological manipulations and mind control. In our turn, we are ready to promote mass-media not only in preparation of published materials, but also in cases of sectarian attempts to strangle the freedom of speech. - Also we call all constructive forces for cooperation in the solution of this sharp social problem. Especially we address with this appeal to the managing cast of traditional faiths.