Leipzig Award










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 Scientology's 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 silence.  He would report his experiences with Scientology no longer if the lawsuit were to become reality.

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 totalitarianism.

On their behalf I also welcome you in the name of the rector of the Nikolas Church, Christian Fuehrer.  He is the rector of the church whose picture year after year has adorned our award.  This is because Reverend Christian Fuehrer's Nikolas Church is not only a landmark of Leipzig, it has become 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 actual democracy along with the implementation of human rights and go on to push the issue 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.  I am very pleased, esteemed Minister Vivien, that you are knowingly accepting our recognition in this political context.  Your involvement shows that the question of new totalitarianism may not and must not be an issue in party politics.  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 human rights award.

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, for Minister Vivien.

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 the legal regulation of psycho-manipulation Minister Vivien created for France, you wrote an article for the Berliner Dialog magazine back in 1997 in which you outlined the need for legal regulations of services in the area of commercial life assistance. 

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 legislative regulation."
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 this discussion.

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, and are even alarmed, when intolerance and totalitarianism are proclaimed as goals by 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 it is 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 mentally ill persons."
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 totalitarianism with courage.

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, the day before yesterday, the Scientology attorneys handed over a 8.7 million dollar check for the purpose of 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 unmentioned

  • 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 and defrauded.
  • We remember the people who have been silenced by psycho-cults and been victim to their systematic slander.
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 friendship, would have been 54 years old.  He was a member of Scientology who saw suicide as his only way out. 

For those other victims who cannot be here speak for themselves, I also call to mind

  • the 17 days of agony of the American woman, Lisa McPherson, who subsequently died,
  • the death of Konrad Aigner and the financial ruin of his family,
  • the tragic death of Frenchman Patrice Vic.
I now ask that you stand for a moment in silent remembrance of these and all unnamed victims of modern totalitarianism. 

[minute of silence.] 

I thank you.

Once more, I thank you for coming here, for your support and your involvement, and I bid you a hearty welcome to Leipzig.




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