Kosovar Refugees

Scientologists misuse the Red Cross

reported from Switzerland August 12, 1999
L'Hebdo Nr.32

The Church of L. Ron Hubbard is sending missionaries to the refugee camps in Albania under the pretext of being supported by the Red Cross. The Red Cross has officially denied the allegation.

Was the Scientology "Church" working together with the International Red Cross in the Kosovo War? That was the impression they gave in their last edition of "Freiheit," which was said to have a circulation of 100,000 copies in French-speaking Switzerland. In an article entitled "Contribution to the Construction of a Stable Society," the cult reported as fact how a certain Michael Edwards and 18 other voluntary staff (for Scientology: unpaid people on site) went to Albania during the latest war and "provided help to refugees of both sides through spiritual counseling and Dianetics" (a particular method to mentally alleviate feelings of sorrow). [Serbian refugees in Albania?] One could read in the article, "in cooperation with the Red Cross, the volunteer assistants could provide effective help" - we then learned that Dianetics seminars - lasting from two to three days - had been organized in the camps and were said to have "alleviated the emotional suffering of 10,000 refugees."

Easy Access

The Scientology "Church" of Lausanne, which authored the article which was made possible through instructions by its American management, claimed that 20,000 copies of "The Way to Happiness" (moral guidance for Scientologists) had already been distributed in Albanian camps, and that this operation would also continue in Kosovo. In those communities, letters from Kosovar refugees are said to be in circulation which ascribed their good fortune to the teachings of Hubbard, the spiritual chief of Scientology. Most of these testimonies are only signed with initials. "The Scientology 'Church' is doing fantastic work to alleviate the lack of spiritual basics for those people," Suzanne Montangero-Crausaz defended herself; she was listed as the party responsible for the Lausanne edition of "Freiheit" ["Freiheit"/Freedom is called "Ethique et Liberté" in the French-speaking areas].

Even if the Scientologists in Tirana have translated the "Way to Happiness" into Albanian, they still deny any connection with any branch of the Red Cross, quite in contrast to the Scientologists in Lausanne. The International Committee of the Red Cross which manages the national representations also asserts, "We have never hear of this matter and we have never observed them there doing anything," said Jessica Barry, one of eight returning from the Kukès camp. "And I have asked my colleagues there and they have no further information about that, either."

The same thing was heard from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross): "The ICRC has a principle: never to work with any kind of Church or religious community. That claim is ridiculous. Nevertheless it is possible that Scientologists intended to achieve international recognition through the misuse of our name," explained press spokesman Urs Boegli.

Cases of precedence

It is not the first time that the name of Red Cross has been assimilated by Scientologists for their own activities. For instance, an adherent of L. Ron Hubbard was filmed as though to show her imparting "healing" technology to the Indonesian Red Cross. In its publications, and on the internet, the Scientology "Church" states that it has rendered services at the local level. "During the earthquake of 1994 in Los Angeles, voluntary staff donated, some in cooperation with teams from the Red Cross, 10,000 hours to help ease the situation of the people. [...] the action was so effective that dozens of them were asked by the Red Cross to strengthen the connection between the two organizations," as we can read in another article which is dedicated to volunteer staff members. Or this comment in another place: "Since these volunteer staff were so efficient, the Red Cross asked them to be ready if ever another catastrophe should happen." A picture and a photograph with the symbol of the Red Cross leads one to believe that Scientology has connections with every branch of the Red Cross.

Although the people in the ICRC or in the government are concerned about this situation, no complaints will be filed on this account. Urs Boegli believes, "It would only be a lot of noise about nothing." Scientologists conclude something different from this reaction: "Functionaries hardly ever say that they are seeking cooperation with Scientology; but believe me, could we go into prisons without their support, like in the USA, or visit refugee camps, like in Albania?" countered Suzanne Montangero-Crausaz. Meanwhile, the Scientologists' activities in Kosovo continue with or without the help of anybody else. When we called up the "Albanian Antenna," we were told that the President, Ms. Ardiana Radoni, was on a trip in the vicinity of Pec with Michael Edwards. And from Lausanne, the Scientology "Church" is announcing new assistance in the Balkans, especially for children. Will the Scientologists also claim this time that they are there to help the International Red Cross?

Cathy Macherel

German Scientology News