Leipzig Human Rights Award
The Leipzig Human Rights Award is an honor given by the European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA, which recognizes "efforts towards human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and freedom of expression in the USA" and actions against what the organization refers to as "human rights violations by the totalitarian Scientology
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

." Prior to 2001, the honor was known as the Alternative Charlemagne Award.

Former Scientology critic
Scientology controversy
Since the Church of Scientology's inception in 1954, numerous Scientologists have been involved in scandals, at times serving prison sentences for crimes, such as those committed in Operation Snow White...

 Bob Minton
Bob Minton
During a April 20, 2002, hearing in the Lisa McPherson wrongful death lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, Minton spoke against Ken Dandar, the attorney representing McPherson's family...

 received the first award in 2000. Other notable recipients of the award include former German Federal Minister of Labor Norbert Blüm
Norbert Blüm
Norbert Blüm is a German federal legislator from North Rhine-Westphalia, Chairman of the CDU there , and former minister for labor and social affairs ....

, former Secretary of State
Secretary of State
Secretary of State or State Secretary is a commonly used title for a senior or mid-level post in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the Government....

 of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Alain Vivien
Alain Vivien
Alain Vivien is a French Socialist Party politician, best known for chairing the French Mission Interministérielle pour la Lutte contre les Sectes, MILS, a ministerial organism designed to observe the activities of various religious organizations defined as "Sectes" .-Early career:He was mayor of...

 and Operation Clambake
Operation Clambake
Operation Clambake, also referred to by its Web address, Xenu.net, is a Web site and Norway-based non-profit organization, launched in 1996, that publishes criticism of the Church of Scientology. It is owned and maintained by Andreas Heldal-Lund, who has stated that he supports the rights of all...

 founder Andreas Heldal-Lund
Andreas Heldal-Lund
Andreas Heldal-Lund is a Norwegian anti-Scientology activist best known for operating the website Operation Clambake.-Activist:...

. Psychologist
Psychologist is a professional or academic title used by individuals who are either:* Clinical professionals who work with patients in a variety of therapeutic contexts .* Scientists conducting psychological research or teaching psychology in a college...

 Margaret Singer
Margaret Singer
Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer, was a clinical psychologist and a part-time Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S....

 was selected at the 2003 ceremony to be the 2004 Award recipient, but she died shortly thereafter and no award was given in that year.


Originally begun as the "Alternative Charlemagne Award," the honor was formed as a counterpoint to the Charlemagne Award
- See also :*Charlemagne*European integration*Leipzig Human Rights Award, originally called the "Alternative Charlemagne Award", formed in opposition to Clinton's recognition with the award- External links :* http://www.karlspreis.de/ *...

 given to U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in 2000. Presented in Aachen, Germany, the Charlemagne Award, or Karlspreis, "honors individuals who promote democracy, human rights and the common values of Europe." The original title of the Leipzig Human Rights Award was so-named as a way of criticizing the relationship between the Church of Scientology
Church of Scientology
The Church of Scientology is an organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system. The Church of Scientology International is the Church of Scientology's parent organization, and is responsible for the overall ecclesiastical management, dissemination and...

 and the Clinton Administration
Presidency of Bill Clinton
The United States Presidency of Bill Clinton, also known as the Clinton Administration, was the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. Clinton was the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second full term...

, which granted Scientology tax exemption
Tax exemption
Various tax systems grant a tax exemption to certain organizations, persons, income, property or other items taxable under the system. Tax exemption may also refer to a personal allowance or specific monetary exemption which may be claimed by an individual to reduce taxable income under some...

 status during Clinton's term in office. The European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA was formed in 1997, and includes committee members from Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The Committee opposes "physical and psychological abuse of humans under the pretext of religion." The organization notes that their criticism of the United States for "its failure to confront Scientology’s human rights abuses while promoting the cult around the world" has made the Award controversial, and states that all past recipients of the Award have been targeted by the Church of Scientology as Suppressive person
Suppressive Person
Suppressive Person, often abbreviated SP, is a term used in Scientology to describe the "antisocial personalities" who, according to Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard, make up about 2.5% of the population...

s, and subjected to the Church's Fair Game policy
Fair Game (Scientology)
The term Fair Game is used to describe policies and practices carried out by the Church of Scientology towards people and groups it perceives as its enemies. Founder L. Ron Hubbard established the policy in the 1960s, in response to criticism both from within and outside his organization...

. Award recipients do not receive financial compensation as part of the award.

The organization's charter cites its concern over the deaths of Lisa McPherson
Lisa McPherson
Lisa McPherson was a member of the Church of Scientology who died of a pulmonary embolism while under the care of the Flag Service Organization , a branch of the Church of Scientology...

 and Patrice Vic, and states "We wish to express our support for the American people and the American government in ending human rights violations against US citizens and other people, committed by the Scientology Organization." Specifically, the Leipzig Human Rights Award charter calls on the United States to reestablish "true freedom of life, speech, religion, personality and pursuit of happiness," and emphasizes freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

, freedom for members of an organization to leave that organization without fear of retribution, freedom from blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

 through materials obtained during spiritual counseling, and calls on the United States for full disclosure of "secret agreements" between the Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

 and the Church of Scientology.

Award recipients

Bob Minton, at the time a prominent critic of Scientology, received the first award in 2000 as the Alternative Charlemagne Award. In her speech at the event, Scientology Task Force of the Hamburg Interior Authority
Scientology Task Force of the Hamburg Interior Authority
The Scientology Task Force for the Hamburg Interior Authority was founded in 1992 to monitor the activities and publications of Scientology, raise public awareness about the organization, and serve as a resource to Scientology members who may wish to exit the group...

 Commissioner Ursula Caberta
Ursula Caberta
Ursula Caberta y Diaz is a German politician, State of Hamburg government official and was the Commissioner for the Scientology Task Force of the Hamburg Interior Authority. She graduated in political economy. According to Deutsche Welle she was considered an expert on the subject of Scientology,...

 cited Minton's recognition of "what dangers could arise for people and liberal democracy from Scientology." Minton had provided former members of Scientology with financial and legal assistance after they had left the organization. At the awards ceremony, Sect Commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg Thomas Gandow stated "By holding this ceremony, we intended to give a sign that, in spite of the Clinton administration, there are people in America who think differently and who do not swim with the Scientology tide." Gandow cited Minton's actions as chairman of the Lisa McPherson Trust
Lisa McPherson Trust
The Lisa McPherson Trust was an organisation created in 1999 by Bob Minton. The trust was named after Lisa McPherson, a Scientology member who died in 1995 after being in the Church of Scientology’s care for 17 days...

 helping former members of Scientology make claims against the organization in court. The Church of Scientology was critical of Minton being honored, and formed its own organization opposed to the Leipzig Human Rights Award, and on May 29, 2000 sent letters to bishops of the Evangelical State Churches in Berlin-Brandenburg and Saxony. The letter stated that Sect Commissioner Thomas Gandow should be dismissed, and said that the Saxon state church should "distance itself from the [Awards] procedure." In response, Gandow stated that Clinton had received the Charlemagne Award despite his affair with Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky
Monica Samille Lewinsky is an American woman with whom United States President Bill Clinton admitted to having had an "improper relationship" while she worked at the White House in 1995 and 1996...

. The awards ceremony took place at the old stock exchange in the Old City of Leipzig. The award given to Minton was presented as a sculpture of the St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig, and was created by Leipzig artist Ruediger Bartels. The award presentation was held on June 3, 2000, one day after the presentation of the official Charlemagne Award to President Bill Clinton by Aachen Mayor Jürgen Linden
Jürgen Linden
Jürgen Linden is a German politician and was Lord Mayor of Aachen from 1989 to 2009.-Life:Linden was born in Aachen, Germany....


Former German Federal Minister of Labor Norbert Blüm was honored with the 2001 Leipzig Human Rights Award. Blüm was recognized because he had "championed human rights and religious freedom in the discussion with the totalitarian Scientology Organization." The Award again contained a picture of Leipzig's St. Nicholas Church, and Blüm was presented with the Award at a ceremony in Leipzig at a site near the Leipzig Trade Fair
Leipzig Trade Fair
The Leipzig Trade Fair was a major fair for trade across Central Europe for nearly a millennium. After the Second World War, its location happened to lie within the borders of East Germany, whereupon it became one of the most important trade fairs of Comecon and was traditionally a meeting place...

 on June 10, 2001. In an interview with the junge Welt
Junge Welt
junge Welt is a German daily newspaper published in Berlin. The jW describes itself as a left and Marxist newspaperIt was first published on 12 February 1947 in the Soviet Sector of Berlin. junge Welt became the official newspaper of the Central Council of the Free German Youth on 12 November 1947...

on June 11, 2001, Blüm was asked why it takes courage to be a politician critical of the Scientology, and he cited actions the Church of Scientology had taken against him: "Scientology acts on people's fears. For instance they threatened me by saying they would distribute their dossier on me to television. They've called me all kinds of names in their newspaper: the "Rasputin" of politics, for example." Blüm also stated in the interview that he did not support a ban on Scientology in Germany, but rather sought to foster the distribution of information about the organization. He also compared what he saw as totalitarian
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 similarities between the ideologies of L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard , better known as L. Ron Hubbard , was an American pulp fiction author and religious leader who founded the Church of Scientology...

 and Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, noting that he was not comparing the individuals themselves but rather their "totalitarian systems." At the awards presentation, Thomas Gandow stated that Blüm was the only federal minister to date to criticize Scientology's "new totalitarianism." Gandow noted that Blüm had been criticized by Scientologists in the press, and was sued in court for his actions critical of the organization. The Scientology Church Germany, Inc. characterized the Award as a "cynical mockery of the most elementary basic rights and of the East German civil rights movement," and referred to the Awards Committee as "a dubious clan of fanatical religious discriminators."

The European-American Citizens Committee for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in the USA recognized former Secretary of State of France, Alain Vivien, with the third Leipzig Human Rights Award, on May 11, 2002. The Award was again presented in Leipzig at St. Nicholas Church, and a congratulatory speech was given by Bavaria's Interior Minister, Guenther Beckstein. The Award was an image of the St. Nicholas Church, encased in glass. At the time, Vivien was the President of the Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combatting Cultic Deviances
MIVILUDES , a French government agency, has the task of:* observing and analyzing movements perceived as constituting a threat to public order or that violate French law*...

, a French government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

. The Committee gave Vivien recognition for his work against "new totalitarian organizations", and spoke positively of his motivations which included his "aim to protect society"; Vivien was singled out for his "demonstration of public courage" while undergoing what the Committee referred to as "pressure from a new form of totalitarianism exercised by Scientology". In his speech honoring Vivien, Minister Guenther Beckstein called Vivien a "pioneer in the Scientology controversy across Europe and across the world." Beckstein stated that Vivien's work demonstrated that it is possible to prevent the misuse of the word "religion" by totalitarian organizations. In his acceptance speech, Vivien stated he was pleased "to receive the award in a place from which freedom of thought has for so long emanated."

Operation Clambake founder Andreas Heldal-Lund became the fourth recipient of the Leipzig Human Rights Award, on May 17, 2003. Operation Clambake was cited by the Committee for exposing what it referred to as "fraud and human rights violations" of the Church of Scientology in the United States. The European-American Citizens Committee said it echoed a statement Heldal-Lund had written at the Operation Clambake website, where he stated: "People should be free to believe whatever they want, including Scientology," but also cited what he believed to be the organization's "deceitfulness, its lack of compassion for its members (especially the hard-working staff), its aggressive hard sell, its arrogance, its attack on free speech, its litigiousness, its harassment of its critics, its lack of concern for families, its gross neglect and abuse of children." Heldal-Lund was recognized for "maintaining his Web page despite repeated legal attacks from church officials." Church of Scientology officials had attempted to silence Heldal-Lund by requesting Google Inc. and Internet Archive
Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

 remove links to Operation Clambake, claiming violation of their copyrights. The Awards ceremony again included the presentation of a glass-contained sculpture with an image of St. Nicholas Church. Alain Vivien presented Heldal-Lund with the Award, and stated that his work had revealed the actions of Scientologists with "respect and intelligence." In his acceptance speech, Heldal-Lund spoke about freedom of speech, and emphasized the role of the individual citizen.

After the 2003 Awards ceremony completed, the Committee met and selected Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer to receive the 2004 award. Singer died on November 23, 2003, and as a result no award was given out in 2004. The European-American Citizens Committee stated: "The Committee really had no choice but to not select another award recipient for 2004, because Margaret truly is irreplaceable. We also decided not to hold a celebration this year."

External links

  • Leipzig Award Charter, official site
  • The Alternative Charlemagne Award Ceremony, video coverage of the event at Xenu TV
    Mark Bunker
    Mark Bunker is a television journalist. He won an Emmy Award in 2006 from the Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences...

    , June 3, 2000
  • The 2001 Leipzig Human Rights Award, video coverage of the event at Xenu TV
    Mark Bunker
    Mark Bunker is a television journalist. He won an Emmy Award in 2006 from the Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences...

    , June 9, 2001
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