January 24, 1997


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      The Church of Scientology of Germany filed an Application today to the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg against the Federal Republic of Germany, on the grounds that the Church of Scientology and its parishioners have been subjected to a systematic campaign of discrimination for the purpose of ostracizing and isolating Scientologists in violation of their human rights.

      “Scientologists in Germany continue to suffer systematic discrimination simply due to their religious beliefs. Athletes, artists, teachers, musicians, dancers—indeed, Scientologists in any profession—know that they risk losing their job, their business or other rights and entitlements if their religion is known,” said Rev. Heber Jentzsch, President of the Church of Scientology International.

      The Application is unprecedented in European law, in that the Church has applied straight to the European Commission, bypassing the German courts. Jentzsch stated today that although more than thirty-six German courts have held that Scientology is a religion entitled to constitutional protection and have thrown out government attempts to restrict the Church’s religious freedom rights, “the German government refuses to abide by its own laws and ignores its own courts, making a direct application to the Commission necessary.”

      It is not the first time the Church has set human rights law. The right of an association as well as an individual to bring such applications before the European Commission was set by the Church of Scientology, which has been recognized as a religion by the Commission.

      “German government officials such as the Federal Minister of Labor Norbert Bluem and Bavarian Ministry of Interior Guenther Beckstein have publicly urged and dictated a ‘litmus test’ to ostracize Scientologists from every facet of society,” said Jentzsch. He said systematic measures have been implemented throughout Germany to, in the words of a spokesman for the youth faction of the CDU “eradicate” Scientologists from society.

      Jentzsch said that the Church has documented more than 600 cases of human rights violations, “and that is the tiny tip of a very large iceberg. We are not talking about a few isolated cases brought about by prejudiced officials. What we are witnessing is a planned, orchestrated campaign of discrimination executed with the power and full resources of the state.”

      The Application, accompanied by exhibits weighing more than 23 kilos, was filed by international human rights expert and counsel, Douwe Korff, who resides in Cambridge, England.

      Rev. Jentzsch accused the German government of practicing “massive human rights violations” and fostering an atmosphere of “intolerance, hostility and ostracism” towards Scientologists, leading directly to numerous incidents of discrimination documented in a December 1996 report published by the Church. It details, among others, the following cases:

      * Mr. H.S., a teacher, was dismissed from Karlsruhe Superior School, the sole reason given being his membership of the Church of Scientology.

      * A mathematics teacher, Mrs. H. E. was removed from her teaching duties at the primary school of Hemmingen solely because of her association with Scientology.

      * The appointment of D. K., who had served one term of office as an Honorary Judge, was not renewed for a second term because of Mr. K’s religion.

      * B. L., chief assistant to the head coach for the German Olympic Fencing Team, was fired and ordered out of his residence at the fencing base for stating that he enjoyed books by L. Ron Hubbard. Mr. L. left Germany because of the discrimination and now lives in Britain.

      * A 4-year old girl was dismissed from kindergarten because her parents are members of the Church of Scientology.

      * In August 1996, in a chilling parallel to the infamous Nuremberg laws, the Bavarian Cabinet announced that Scientologists would be banned from the civil service. This policy became effective November 1, 1996.

      The U.S. State Department has spoken out strongly against the treatment of Scientologists in Germany in its Annual Human Rights reports. The United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern over Germany’s discrimination of minority religious members in a November 1996 report.

      A fact-finding committee composed of two members of the British House of Lords and academic experts visited Germany last September. They reported they were “completely unprepared for the sheer scale of prejudice, discrimination and even persecution” they found after interviewing representatives from 17 minority religions and philosophical groups, as well as government representatives.

      The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, the United States Helsinki Commission and the Rutherford Institute, a Christian-based civil rights organization, have also reported on the German government campaign of discrimination against Scientologists. The Special Rapporteur intends to visit Germany later this year.

      The Application to the Commission follows a January 9 Open Letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl signed by 34 actors, writers and artists including Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Oliver Stone and top executives of Hollywood movie studios. It compared the treatment of Scientologists in Germany today with the Nazis’ persecution of the Jewish people in the years preceding the Holocaust.

      The Open Letter broke like a thunderstorm across Germany, creating international media and widespread denunciations of the German government’s human rights practices.

      Scientology is a religion founded by writer and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, who is best known as the author of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which has sold more than 17 million copies. It is the fastest growing religion in the world and is expanding rapidly in Europe. It has earned commendations for its many highly effective programs that utilize the technology of L. Ron Hubbard to resolve drug abuse, illiteracy and crime.

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