News Denmark: Jyllands-Posten prints RPF article, TV news also
15 Jan 2001
firstname.lastname@example.org (Catarina Pamnell)
On January 14th, 2001, one of the major Danish newspapers 'Jyllands-Posten' printed a large article written by Pierre Collignon on Scientology's Rehabilitation Project Force in Denmark. (Jyllands-Posten web site is http://www.jp.dk - but this article is no longer available on the web to non-subscribers.)
The interior government of Hamburg, Germany, criticizes the Danish government and police for allowing Scientology to unchecked run a "totalitarian re-education camp" in the middle of Copenhagen. Ursula Caberta of the Hamburg government says people are being held against their will, and put under physical and psychological pressure, and that it's a sign of misguided tolerance if Denmark does not act against these human rights violations.
The CoS says there are presently 10-15 people taking part of the RPF program in Copenhagen, but that it is completely voluntary, an offer extended only to members of the elite Sea Organization. The CoS believes the RPF should be likened to the trials of faith that Christian or Buddhist monks may voluntarily put themselves through.
Religious historian Michael Rothstein of Copenhagen university says it's important to carry on a dialogue with the CoS members, to ascertain why they are going through the RPF program. He says it could be an expression of deep religious committment, but could also be due to pressure, and that in case anyone feels violated society should step in.
Danish police say they cannot interfer, unless there is a formal complaint filed. Some persons did make complaints in the 1980s, among them former member Birgitta Harrington. But the investigation has been closed, due to lack of evidence.
The CoS has given Jyllands-Posten access to the newest set of rules of
conduct for those going through the RPF program. Among the
- no contact with people outside the program
- not leaving the CoS premises without permission
- no car driving
- no television
- carrying a black armband
- no walking, running only
- no contact whatsoever with their families. Previously, RPF members could see their spouses or children once a week under certain conditions, but now all contact is forbidden for the duration of the RPF program
The average duration of the RPF is said to be one to two years, although Jyllands-Posten has knowledge of a Swedish member who was recently kicked out of the organization after five years on the program.
A former Sea Org member, Susanne Elleby, is interviewed. She went onto the RPF in 1989, in an attempt to leave Scientology, and spent 14 months on the program. Her experience was that it was a world of strict control, censorship and mental breakdown. Unlike most ex-members, she succeeded in getting her personal documents out of the organization, and could thus show the journalist examples of the programs she was put through, the success stories she was expected to write after completing a step on the program, and the many ethics reports made by her fellow RPF members, for example accusing her of throwing left-over food into the wrong bucket, stealing a cigarette, forgetting to take a vitamin pill, getting up too late in the morning, demonstrating a bad mood, or even spending too much time in the bathroom. Once, three books were discovered in her bag - two old novels and a song book, that she had kept as 'souvenirs' of the world outside. She was forced to get rid of the books and declare in writing that it was wrong to keep books as that could delay her progress on the RPF.
A present-day member of the Sea Org, Franz Stoeckl, who spent about one and a half year on the RPF in Copenhagen in July of 1998 to December of 1999 tells of his satisfaction with the program. He claims it's the best thing that ever happened to him. He was doing the program together with 18 other people, and enjoyed the work of painting and carpeting. After about five months, he was transferred to the RPF in Los Angeles, US, where about 150 persons were going through the program. Here his job was mainly gardening. Franz especially appreciates that he was allowed to do the 'False Purpose Rundown' auditing. After completing the program, he feels he is doing better at work and gets along better with people, and also has a better relationship with his wife. He doesn't feel that it was a big sacrifice to not see the wife for 18 months - as a Sea Org member, he is accustomed to separation when his job demands it. It's part of the game, he says.
******The original article is a lot bigger than the summary above, and anyone who can decipher Danish should try to get hold of it!
On Monday 15th of January, the RPF was debated twice on Danish television. I was told there was something about it on an early morning show with Susanne Elleby, someone from the university and a CoS representative, I don't know the details.
On the DR1 (major national channel) news at 21.00, a short overview of the controversy was presented. The OSA PR for Denmark, Anette Refstrup, was interviewed and said the RPF is intended for the spiritual advancement of the member. Ursula Caberta on the telephone voiced the concerns of the German authorities. I (Catarina Pamnell) made a short comment over the phone stating my opinion that the RPF creates in the member an unhealthy dependance on the Scn organization. Some of this newscast should be available for viewing online at http://www.dr.dk/nyheder/
(I will not be reading ARS, anyone wants to reach me you'll have to mail me)
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