German pro-life groups complain to UN Human Rights Council about attacks, harassment
BRUSSELS, October 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Physical attacks and property damage, negative stereotyping by the media and infringement of freedom of assembly and expression are just part of a normal day’s work for pro-life activists in Europe, according to German pro-life groups.
The two pro-life organizations, “Kostbare Kinder” (Precious Children) and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, are submitting briefs to the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, saying that people publicly opposed to abortion are subject to regular harassment.
“Four times the windows of our life-center have been destroyed since October 2008. And very often the walls have been scrawled with left radical and/or blasphemous slogans,” Kostbare Kinder said.
In their brief, the group says that the Agency for Public Order in Freiburg has “restricted access” for one mile around the entrance area of a pro-abortion pregnancy counseling and abortion service. Kostbare Kinder’s pro-life advocates had been doing sidewalk counseling outside the facility. The city of Freiburg reacted with a media-campaign initiated by the abortion service, called Pro Familia, in two local newspapers and a TV station which gave no chance to the pro-life group to tell their story.
“In our thirteen years of side-walk counseling, we haven’t done anything wrong or illegal,” the group says in their brief to the UN. “In Germany abortion continues to be an illegal action though not punished under certain circumstances.”
“Not to be able to manifest one’s convictions by peaceful demonstration or speaking kindly and respectfully to strangers, is a violation of freedom of expression, which indirectly discriminates especially against Christians, as the issue is of particular concern to Christians.”
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Dr. Gudrun Kugler of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, says that in Freiburg and Munich, Christian-inspired non-governmental organisations protesting in front of abortion clinics and offering “alternatives and conversation” have had their activities “severely limited” by the authorities.
“Local courts have given in to the pressure of the targeted locations, which could have been mainly financial ones. Courts have restricted the form of manifestation as well as established a geographical ban. Appeals are ongoing,” she said.
The Agencies for Public Order have called sidewalk counseling a “threat to women’s privacy and rights.” In the city of Freiburg pro-life activists have faced fines and in Munich they have been ordered to pay 1500 € for showing a picture of a 12 weeks old embryo with the message “six months before birth” on a public sidewalk in front of an abortion-clinic.
Until now, the group says, there has never been a complaint by any women to the police or to an agency of the public order. “The police of Munich confirm that our conduct always has been and still is impeccable.”
The group particularly objected to a television news video made by the state-sponsored ARD television channel. Kostbare Kinder says that the makers of the clip refused to accept evidence that women who had changed their minds about abortion were happy with their decision, though the pro-life group offered the TV station contact information for women willing to speak about their experiences. “We offered this, but the TV team did not show any interest.”
The group told the TV studio about several cases in which the women received “solidarity and real help from us”… “we handed over written testimonies of thankful and happy mothers including baby-photos to the reporter Tim Fugmann,” but they say that none of this information was included in the film.
In the clip, the moderator introduced the group as people who “harass and threaten” women and doctors, “but in the film itself neither the abortion doctor nor his patients said anything about this,” Kostbare Kinder will tell the UN.
“By this and other examples it became very clear for us that the makers of the report created wrong ‘facts’ on purpose and transferred these to their viewers.
“There was no balanced coverage at all (which our constitution and the German Broadcasting Law directs especially for media under public law), but a virulent campaign.”
Pro-life and pro-family marches and public events in Germany and throughout Europe are often held with the protection of police in riot gear, with violent attacks becoming the norm. A video made by Kostbare Kinder shows a relatively peaceful confrontation in Münster between pro-life marchers, including some with small children in strollers, and radical counter-demonstrators. The Christian pro-lifers are guarded by dozens of police and have to run a gauntlet of screaming and abusive counter-demonstrators, some dressed in nun costumes and others carrying the rainbow flag. The counter-demonstrators shout and blow whistles and horns in an attempt to drown out the Christian hymns.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians is also planning a brief to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. They will say that in Germany, “anti-religion groups have created a climate hostile to frank discourse.”
According to the Observatory, defamation campaigns in the media and negative stereotyping have become common and have recently given rise to “hate incidents” such as the blocking of speaking venues at universities for professors or speakers, as well as “manifestations against peaceful events.” The Observatory records incidents across Europe and produces an annual report compiled of anti-Christian activities. These include increases in vandalism and physical attacks as well as government suppression of the political rights of Christians.