Laudatio for Alain Vivien
by Minister Dr. Günther Beckstein
"Awareness alone of human rights is too little
if readiness to defend it everywhere
and under any conditions is lacking "
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, dear Minister Vivien,
I am very happy to be with you here today in Leipzig. It is a
honor for me today to be able to give the laudatio for Minister Vivien on
occasion of his receiving the "Human Rights Award of the European-American
Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA."
This human rights award is now given out for the
third time here in Leipzig. It was no coincidence that the Committee
upon Leipzig for the first award in the year 2000. People associate
citizens of the City of Leipzig with the discussion about totalitarian
More than ten years ago, the citizens of the City
of Leipzig no longer found themselves content with a totalitarian
They resisted the Stasi state that voided the freedom of the individual,
took to the streets for human rights and freedom of belief.
I myself still remember the very impressive events,
the Monday demonstrations in November and December 1989. I have to
these demonstrations, for me, are not only unforgotten, but unforgettable,
thousands and thousands of people, using wholly peaceable means, namely,
to demonstrate, spontaneously took to the streets to advocate and fight
When we today say in Constitutional law that the
freedom to assemble and the right to demonstrate are the "freedom of press
the little man," then that, I believe, is a reality in Leipzig such as has
elsewhere been realized in Germany to this extent.
I also remember very well that at the time I was
the state secretary in Bavaria, responsible for police issues, how I met
the police in Leipzig in this very active and moving era -- when they were
about their reaction plan by which it could be seen that they were nervous
whether everything would remain peaceful.
Looking back on it, one has to say "Yes, thank God!"
It was a great signal coming from Leipzig, at least for all of Germany,
from all of Europe. And also for this reason, Leipzig is the right
for this award to be given, otherwise I wouldn't be saying this. If
ever admits that somewhere outside of Bavaria is a much more appropriate
then that is probably saying something very special.
I hope, as the applause shows, that this offhand
remark is understood in the right way, and not as an expression of
Like the men and women of Leipzig, the European-American
Citizens Committee does not intend to resign itself to totalitarian
It is particularly involved with new totalitarian organizations, with the
organization in particular, and is engaged worldwide on behalf of human
and religious freedom.
This year, too, the Committee has found a worthy
recipient for its human rights award. Minister Vivien, an
in French politics and a man of extraordinary dedication and courage, is
this award. I find it both really good and interesting when a member
the Christian Social Union, when someone who is slotted as the person
for "internal security" for Edmund Stoiber's campaign in the 2002 federal
when somebody such as this expresses appreciation for a socialist
Because this demonstrates that when we are talking
about the really essential issues, then the question of party alignment is
our first priority. The deciding factor is that people, in
are in agreement across the boundaries of democratic parties. And I
like this appreciation of a conservative union man for a socialist
be regarded in exactly this sense, as an expression of commonality in
issues, in the battle against totalitarianism.
[Totalitarian Movements and Organizations]
For many years, Minister Vivien, you have been speaking
out, in spite of intense hostility, tirelessly for the exposure of the
emanate from new totalitarian movements, just as you have for the
preventive measures by the state.
As early as 1983 you were one of the first politicians
to become involved with cults, totalitarian movements, and with the
with them. You were commissioned by Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy to
the first situation report on this problematic area for the French
In 1983, you worked on the first French Enquete
report on cults and totalitarian organizations. Since November 1998,
as president, have directed the "Mission Interminsterielle pour la lutte
les sectes" (Interministerial Group to Combat Cults, MILS) and have been
annual reports. Very early on you recognized the multi-
the problem. In your basic analysis, you pointed out the threat to
of the individual, as well as the threat to free society on the whole from
totalitarian movements and organizations.
As no other has done before you, you have publicly
taken a position on the Scientology organization in a unambiguous
categorized the Scientology organization as a "totalitarian" and
cult" that should be prohibited in France.
[MILS report on Scientology]
The January 2000 MILS report also arrives at an
unambiguous assessment of the Scientology organization. It says the
of religious goals is only a mask for the organization with a totalitarian
It is not up to the state to make findings about the content of religions
ideologies. Nevertheless the state has to be very vigilant when it
to the law bring broken and when the word "religious" is being used only
The report emphasizes that Scientology belongs to that category of "cults"
continually attempts - and with great success, too - to infiltrate
institutions, official international organizations and non-governmental
In addition, Scientology operates outside the realm of democracy; its
clash with the public system and assail human dignity. It is
that the Scientology organization threatens human rights and social
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that you, in
your work, are a pioneer in the dispute with Scientology in Europe and in
We know that takes courage. The easy way would
be to keep a low profile and dodge the issues. I have respect for a
who does not streamline himself in such a way as to set his sails so that
never travel into a headwind, for one who takes his own responsibility
That also means responsibility to individual people, especially the young,
also the elderly, so not only to the individual people, but also
to the entire state and public presences.
I believe that, in fact, you have gotten involved
in a specially diligent way in all these phenomena. In any case, I'm
for the staff in the proper department in my ministry when I say that you
been involved with the material you and your people produce on an
intensive basis, and that we have learned much from you.
And I want to clearly underline what you, too, have
placed at the center of attention, that we, of course, have no comment on
content of religions or the content of ideologies.
As a French politician you are indeed much less
assailable for having connections with any religious structures. I,
am a member of the Evangelical State Synod myself, and I profess my
to a party that is Christian by virtue of its name. It is very
for third parties to say that my actions are intended to shut out a
organization. I've read that from Scientology many times when they
to write about me. That sort of thing would never happen to a French
politician; everybody knows that there is a strong separation of church
So, in a way, that is the case for you in France,
where things are much stricter than for us in Germany, for instance.
possibility that you are not just trying to disparage a competing religion
be demonstrated with greater credibility than with us. The issue at
is to make an example of and prevent the misuse of the word "religion" for
And that is what you have shown on a wide scale:
that requirements and regulations for psychological and psychic services
to be implemented. We have also come to this conclusion. This
the place to go into details, but there is something I want to note.
Bavarian state government commissioned the University of Munich to produce
expert opinion, which the scientists then presented, and this demonstrated
risks posed by Scientology, I believe, in a clear and impressive manner.
People have fallen into the clutches of Scientology
and have, in their essence, been influenced to a great degree by the
and elements of Scientology's treatment - in a special way you put up
which were the real background for your work, where they could be seen and
where people could take heed, and for this I thank you in the name of many
In your dealings with cults and totalitarian cultures,
you also brought the attention of political opinion leaders to this
thereby motivating critical discussion om the topic. I would surely
betray a secret when I say former Minister Bluem called me up several
and told me, "So, I hear Minister Vivien will be receiving this award in
and, in true Bluemian style, he continued in high spirits, "Beckstein, you
to go, they need someone who knows how to give a laudatio (applause) for
who was the first one to wake up the slumbering politicians in many other
[Threats to Human Rights]
That is another thing that quite clearly goes to
your credit, that you have brought this phenomenon to the attention of
opinion leaders and have thereby stimulated a critical discussion about
The French state, based on its history is counted as one of the first
states, has not only recognized these new threats to human rights because
informational efforts, it has also taken special preventive measures to
the freedom of the individual and has motivated society's democratic
defend itself against totalitarian abuse such as is utilized by
like Scientology. In that respect, you, Minister Vivien, are the
for political, structural and legislative assurance of human rights for
afflicted by these destructive cults. The creation of a legal
to protect the victims of Scientology and other similar organizations by
parliament is to your credit. With this award, the committee
your engagement in a society at risk to the totalitarian Scientology
and your involvement with those who have left Scientology only to be
and prosecuted, to sum up, your extensive efforts for human rights.
[Meaning of Human Rights]
The idea and the implementation of human rights
in the current of time does not need justification. Human rights are
essential component of diverse value systems. In the Federal
Germany, human rights are anchored in the Constitution, and it is now one
most interesting tasks in current politics to seek consolidation of the
Rights Charter that was proclaimed in the government conference of Nizza
the European agreements.
Our Christian-Occidental understanding of human
rights is marked with the concept of a human being as self-accountable
In this regard, the universally valid restriction applies that the rights
person reach their limits at the rights of another person. No
no religion can claim privilege in this perception. They are part of
culture. Neither may we forget this when we are confronted by
human rights by terrorist or extremist quarters.
[Human Rights violations]
Our experiences of the past century, or even just
our recent past, show that the mere recognition of human rights is not
if the readiness to defend them under any and all conditions is
Human worth and human rights have been and continue to be violated in the
manner. However, we may not accept violations of human rights.
if the awareness about the significance of human rights has grown
recent decades, much more is still to be done to get them put in place,
in view of the current threat to human rights in our European society and
USA, my dear Minister Vivien, you have made an extraordinary contribution.
For your efforts made on behalf of the freedom of
all people we most respectfully thank you. We wish you much strength
courage to continue. But appreciation is also due for the
and dedicated work of all staff at MILS and to the French National
through its legislation, worked across all party lines to defend human
from the new totalitarian threat. And I might add here, although it
perhaps be unrealistic, that this is a challenge we in Germany need to
and to cooperate on across all party lines in order to be able to
the dangers at hand.
The public discussion you have carried on with personal
dedication and expert knowledge about the new totalitarianism of the
organization is all the more deserving of recognition in that you have
to not only massive internal, but also external, political pressure, in
to which the Scientology organization has targeted you personally as a
person." I have to add to that, though, that I see this sort of
a special form of modern nobility; you can tell you are doing the right
when you are attacked by the right side.
May we never lose sight of our common goal, working
for a peaceful and freedom-inducing cooperation for all people. That
the support of human rights and that also includes courageously
from totalitarianism. It is important, especially for us in Germany,
us to deal with totalitarianism from rightwing extremists, and I ask your
if I also include leftwing extremists. But of course, it is also
that we confront the totalitarianism of Scientology, which abuses religion
a word to, in reality, pursue such completely different goals as making
And for this reason I also thank everyone who has come here today to
cause a little further.
Heartfelt appreciation for your attention.