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    Posted August 19, 2015 by
    One108
    Location
    Prague
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Protests around the world

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    Believers in the Czech Republic are calling for help

     

    This is a transcription of an open letter to US Embassy in Prague, from Demonstration against suppressing of faith in Czech Republic held in November 17th 2014:

     

    Dear Mr. Ambassador A. Schapiro

     

    We are turning to you as citizens of the Czech Republic, educated and religious people who are asking for respect for fundamental rights and liberties embedded in the Constitution of the Czech Republic.

     

    We represent a significant branch of a religious movement in the Czech Republic with international reach, in terms of thousands of supporters, which has officially been present in the Czech Republic since 1996.
    It engages in peaceful practices for personal and spiritual growth, based on mystical foundations of world religions.

     

    Over the past 5 years we have been witnessing constantly increasing systematic persecution by the security forces of the police and judiciary. It is reflected in the raid against our top representatives of the movement by special police units and their investigation using highly non-standard procedures (interrogation without the possibility to call a lawyer, without being recorded, including the seizure of articles of faith without a leave of court) and under duress (threat of physical violence, disclosure of sensitive information to the family, rape etc). Consequently, our representatives were silenced under threat of heavy fines of 40,000 EUR for contacting journalists and for the disclosure of the details of the interrogation.

     

    The result of 5 years of investigation was a verdict this fall imposing ten-year imprisonment for the highest representative of our movement Mr. Jaroslav Dobeš and his student Barbora Plášková for practicing tantric rituals with their students. Such sentence has been unprecedented since 1989 in the democratic Czech Republic. The whole process and the cooperation of the police, judiciary and the media copy the disreputable trials of the totalitarian regime in our country in the 50s of last century, e.g.: among other things, intimidation of witnesses by investigators; selective choice of testimonies of witnesses; subpoenas of only the plaintiff and their witnesses; investigation by the District Court, whose member - a judge, was also one of the key witnesses of the police for the whole action in court and for the subsequent process.

     

    Throughout the police investigation since 2005 there has been a very negative media campaign against our highest representatives without the information being backed up (white slavery and sexual prostitution in our organization), which serves to discourage our believers from free profession of their religious beliefs. It is not just us who are exposed to this kind of pressure; systematically and repeatedly devalued is any expression of faith or activities of religious minorities in the Czech Republic.

     

    Due to the significant pressure for the termination of all activities of the members of our movement in the Czech Republic, we, already in 2011, turned to the members of the Senate of the Czech Republic, but without any success consisting in measures in favor of defending our rights.

     

    Regarding the recent development in foreign and domestic policy of the highest representatives of the Czech Republic we share a concern that it stands in direct opposition to the legacy of our post-revolutionary President Václav Havel, and the 25-year-long development of the CR is tending towards the approach of democracy and human rights in the contemporary Soviet Union.

     

    This is evidenced by the pro-Russian orientation of our highest leaders, official pronouncement of contempt for political dissidents in Russia, approving of the approach of the Republic of China to the annexation of Tibet as well as its attitude towards human rights, ignoring the increased number of activities of agents of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China in the Czech Republic, and many other indicators. As for the national level, security forces and methods of intimidation against religious minorities are still in use (frequent immediate dismissal from work because of religious beliefs, defamation and police warnings of the dangers of participating in other activities of the movement).

     

    The governments of our neighboring countries do not appear to be a sufficient control mechanism in cases where apparently the principles of a democratic state are violated. If there have been any diplomatic notes to the situation in the Czech Republic at all, we did not notice their consequences. We try every peaceful way, how to point out on this case. We also did the demonstration at November 17 in Prague before the US Embassy in Prague for religious freedom in Czech Republic and freedom for Jaroslav Dobeš.

     

    Therefore we now turn directly to You, as the member of US official representative. Because the United States of America for us, in the current situation, represents a guarantor of international standards of freedom of religion and respect for fundamental civil liberties.

     

    In addition, the whole process with a representative of our movement is strikingly reminiscent of the accusation of an American philosopher and entrepreneur Pierre Bernard, one of the first teachers of yoga and practical tantra in the US. This case, however took place a hundred years ago and the American history is repeating itself here in the Czech Republic today. We believe that in the contemporary United States, such a trial would be no longer possible and it is therefore not possible in case of our teacher, mystic and tantric Mr. Jaroslav Dobeš. Nor is it possible to further oppress the believers of our movement, and other minority religious groups present in the Czech Republic (international movements of Yoga in daily life, the headquarters of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic, and many others).

     

    With this step we would like to draw the attention of the government of the Czech Republic to the fact that - although a minority religious group - we are not going to give up our rights guaranteed by the Constitution and we also disagree with the practices of the representatives of the Czech Republic in terms of turning away from the legacy of our former President Václav Havel.

     

    We hereby ask for the intercession at the international level addressed the Czech government, that there should be truly maintained religious rights under the Constitution of the Czech Republic. Not only reminders of earlier merit of our president.

     

    Yours Faithfully
    Founding members of the Free religious society “Cesta Guru Járy” and friends of Jaroslav Dobeš

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