Welcome to the Third Leipzig Human Rights Award
By Solveig Prass
Esteemed Minister Alain Vivien,
Esteemed Madam Vivien-Casano,
Esteemed Minister Beckstein,
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,
and at this point I would especially like to welcome Mr. Graham
Berry, who came from the USA for the award ceremony. He was an
attorney for many Scientology victims and himself became a target of
attacks of eradication.
I would also like to explicitly welcome our committee member
Gerry Armstrong from Canada. He has been newly sued by Scientology
for 10 million dollars. The reason: to shudder him into
would report his experiences with Scientology no longer if the lawsuit
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
I welcome you to Leipzig in the name of the European-American
Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA, who
have invited you to this award ceremony.
At the same time, though, I also welcome you in the name of all
citizens of Leipzig, who in 1989 brought a totalitarian political system
to its knees and who, still today, take a stand against any sort of
On their behalf I also welcome you in the name of the rector
Nikolas Church, Christian Fuehrer. He is the rector of the
picture year after year has adorned our award. This is because
Christian Fuehrer's Nikolas Church is not only a landmark of Leipzig, it
a symbol of democracy and human rights worldwide.
Actually, he was asked to be the speaker to welcome you today,
for who other than he, one who staggered a totalitarian system with prayers
for peace in the Nikolas Church, who inspired people with the courage
to defend themselves against totalitarianism and who took part in the peace
demonstrations of 1989, could better speak in the name of the people
of the City of Leipzig. He could not make it this year, because of a
wedding in his own family, so I bid you a hearty welcome from him today.
I am pleased that this human rights award is being conferred
upon a French citizen in my home town. That is because the citizens
of the City of Leipzig were the first under the GDR regime to promote an
democracy along with the implementation of human rights and go on to push
with a peaceful revolution. Leipzig continues to show courage and
character against anti-democratic and totalitarian groups, as it did not
too long ago, when
Nazi boots were on the verge of marching through our beautiful city.
very pleased, esteemed Minister Vivien, that you are knowingly accepting
recognition in this political context. Your involvement shows that
of new totalitarianism may not and must not be an issue in party
We can and must cooperate to defend our common values on the European and
international planes. For that, too, we want to thank you with our
Esteemed State Minister Dr. Beckstein, we are pleased that you,
one of the most well-known CSU politicians, are willing to give the
laudatio for a French socialist politician. Today, you have been so
kind as to do
the honors in place of Minister Dr. Bluem, our last year's award winner,
Exactly as Minister Vivien has done, you are working across party
and state lines for human dignity and values. You are just as aware
of the problems of Scientology as Minister Vivien. Very similarly to
legal regulation of psycho-manipulation Minister Vivien created for
wrote an article for the Berliner Dialog magazine back in 1997 in which
outlined the need for legal regulations of services in the area of
You wrote in this 1997 article [BD 2/97, p. 27]:
"As the Scientology example shows, it is necessary
to protect those seeking help from manipulation, disregard of their right
to self-determination and financial exploitation with the appropriate
While state protection and assistance, as well as legislative regulation,
are important elements, the challenges are even more basic.
We want to protect not only the freedom of the individual, but
also of society in general, from the danger of a new totalitarianism that
manifests itself not politically, but religiously. We are delighted
to see any
politician, including you two gentlemen, as well as any citizen, who shows
the flag in
The citizens of the City of Leipzig are just as tolerant as the
great majority of people in Europe and in America. Tolerant with
regard to religions and to political currents -- so we all pay attention,
even alarmed, when intolerance and totalitarianism are proclaimed as goals
political groups, sects or cults.
We know today that there is actually a new type of cynical totalitarian
system, like the Scientology organization, and we therefore have a high
regard for any person who takes a determined stance against it. And
not simple to take a stand against the Scientology organization.
Back then, Minister Dr. Beckstein, you wrote:
"Critics are threatened, persecuted, equated to criminals,
and characterized by the organization as suppressive, anti-social and
The men and women of Europe demand of their politicians, among other
things, that they not hide behind their offices, but that they demonstrate
civil courage. For that we give you both our greatest respect.
They who have the will, the courage and the tolerance to live
in a democracy with rights for all people -- they should also have the
will to confront intolerance, disregard for human dignity and
That is one lesson that is still very much with us here in Leipzig,
here in the immediate vicinity of the Nikolas Church.
I am proud that the human rights award of the European-American
Citizens Committee for the preservation of human rights and religious
freedom in the USA is being presented here in this city.
It was with special pleasure that the committee and everyone
here when, just in time for our Leipzig ceremony, on Thursday, May 9,
2002, it was announced after a 22-year legal dispute in California that Lawrence
(Larry) Wollersheim had finally won his lawsuit.
Larry sued Scientology in 1980 for psychological manipulation
which almost drove him to suicide. Although Larry won the
proceedings all the way to the Supreme Court, Scientology never let up
trying to take the
wind out his sails with new legal diversions and maneuvers. Finally,
day before yesterday, the
Scientology attorneys handed over a 8.7 million dollar check for the
preventing further hearings and witness testimony.
But our work on the topic of sects, cults, psychogroups and
totalitarian systems cannot leave those other victims of cult ruthlessness
Today, on this day, the brother
of Mrs. Wenzelburger-Mack, the chairman of the parents and concerned
citizens initiative in Baden-Wurttemberg, with whom we have ties of
would have been 54 years old. He was a member of Scientology who saw
his only way out.
- In this hour we remember the people who have been tormented
and extorted by psycho-cults.
- We remember the people that have been insulted, suppressed
- We remember the people who have been silenced by psycho-cults
and been victim to their systematic slander.
For those other
victims who cannot be here speak for themselves, I also call to mind
I now ask that you stand for a moment in silent remembrance of these
and all unnamed victims of modern totalitarianism.
- the 17 days of agony of the American woman,
Lisa McPherson, who
- the death of Konrad Aigner
and the financial ruin of his family,
- the tragic death of Frenchman
[minute of silence.]
I thank you.
Once more, I thank you for coming here, for your
your involvement, and I bid you a hearty welcome to Leipzig.