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(Translated from an email dated 25 June 2000 sent by Araxia (Perm, Russia) to the author (St. Petersburg, Russia)
I, together with my sister, and with my two adolescent children (daughter, aged 17 and son, aged 14) was in Clearwater, Florida at the Church of Scientology, February – March 1998. More than two years have passed but we still cannot forget the horror we experienced there. We are only just starting to release the memories of the terror.
It has taken almost two years but I can now discuss what happened and I would like to go to the American Consulate to meet with the American consul to bring charges against the Church of Scientology for payment on moral grounds. Even though that we understand there is no amount of money or any help that can help to recreate all of our physical power and health that were broken by hard labor in the Church, I decided to apply in court for one reason, to make them stop to recruit people.
We worked for free the only thing we got was food and bed, from 7 am to 11 pm at night without weekends off. Then they took us to dormitory where we were living in 8-16 people in the room. In addition, they only allowed us 2 minutes for shower after that they turned off lights. Cleaning of rooms also was our responsibilities, the church did not have working persons and all our work was repairing, and cleaning rooms, offices and the hotels for the public was our job. The cleaning of kitchens and washing dishes in the kitchens were also our responsibilities. However, the most horrible thing was that they forced my 14-year-old son to work during two weeks at nights building a stage for a concert hall and then he was engaged in painting pipes with very smelly paint underground without any air conditioning. During the day, he and other men were allowed only 3 hours to sleep and then they were taken away for work. I could not recognize my son; he did not understand what was happening at the rare moments when I saw him. He had a dazed look and did not seem to care. Before our departure, his temperature rose and he could not understand where I was taking him. All 15 hours of our transatlantic flight, my children did not eat and could only sleep because of their exhaustion.
When the Church recruited us in Ekaterinburg they told us that we would live together, the whole family, and they will pay each of us $50 per week and what we will have weekends, holidays and at anytime we would be allowed to leave back to Russia. But what happened in reality until the end of my days, by the laws of the Church’s organization I did not have the right to visit the room of my son and other men, and vice-a-versa. They did not pay us what they promised for the time we were there. I received $23. They did not give me money for the trip back to Russia. Our friend from Perm asked his American friend, a professor living in Clearwater, to lend us money and that man brought us money to the Church about 12 midnight and the next morning we left.
Practically no one has the opportunity to leave from there, because nobody has money. Besides that, they force you to pay for the courses, which you take in exchange for hard labor. Each course cost more than $1000 and to take into consideration that one person takes one course per week then nobody from the newly arrived group could not possibly pay the price. Because every one of us sold out already everything, they had just to come to America to be at the Church.
Therefore, the human being is trapped but the most horrible is that happened to the soul and spirit. Because just before leaving I had been working in my city in the L Ron Hubbard Center for three years and I believed with all of my heart and soul that I was doing the most generous business on earth. Then they told me that they need me at Flag and what I could help all people on the planet with my contribution as a Scientologist. I was ready to make a commitment. The result was a horrible disappointment.
To make my leave less painful I had to go and lie and tell them that I had to leave for sometime because the father of my children did not approve that the children would leave and now he insists that they return to Russia. The Church staff locked me in a special room with security and they forced me to sign a statement in writing what I had committed sins against the Church. I was very scared, horrified because I was separated at that moment from the rest of the world and they could hide me for a couple of years in a punitive detachment center (known as RPF) and my children would never leave the Church. At that moment, I was ready to write and sign anything they wanted. They gave me to sign 15 or 20 pages of documents where I had been told I would never ever be able to talk publicly against the Church of Scientology. Moreover, if I would break that promise then against me they will bring legal action and require monetary payment in return.
Dear Steven, I do not know how better to go to the Consul to speak about this, and if it is possible to do it in Russian language or can, I do this through Internet? If you can help me, I will be very thankful. Goodbye. Sincerely, Araxia 25th of June 2000.
(Translated from an email dated 3 July 2000 sent by Araxia (Perm, Russia) to the author (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Good day to you Steven. I just found out that you are going to the US Consulate for a meeting with the Consul and I want you to let him know, or ask his personnel, to contact me. I also ask you please give me the email address of the Consul in St. Petersburg because I am going to correspond with him to discuss the terms of bringing legal actions against the Church of Scientology. Tomorrow I will wait for you a detailed letter of your visit to the Consul and about what actions I have to make. If there is the opportunity to bring charges in the USA from my name just to make the process faster then I would be very glad and thankful. I do not want that the crime done against my family, and me especially against my 14-year-old son David would be left unpunished. When recruiters, recruited us they trained my children how my children could answer the questions correctly at the US Consulate interview and what to say if asked what they would be doing in America.
They promised that there would be good schools and that the children will study there. They knew that I wanted to leave David with my mother because I wanted him to finish school in Russia. My mother was crying a lot and she asked me to leave him with her but the recruiters knew that if I would leave him at home then I would come back, which they could not allow and therefore they told me that the school in the United States is better than in Russia. We believed them and for the Consul’s question as to what the children would do in the United Sates, they answered that they will study. However, when we arrived at that place he did not study even one day at school. And when I asked why he is not studying at school they retorted that school in the USA is not necessary because he will study special courses of L Ron Hubbard, also like every adult. Nevertheless, even there he did not study, he only worked. In addition, he worked 18-20 hours per day. In addition, other children who were engaged in this labor were much younger than 14 years. For example, “Andrew” and his little sister “Paisy” who were from the USA.
I already wrote to you that a mother has no right to visit a son’s room, this was written in an instruction letter of Hubbard, and we did not see each other for many days. The only chance we had to see each other was when we came together for meals. About leaving the place and going somewhere else was forbidden. Everything was done according to schedule and my son and I had our own separate schedules. Each thing we did was watched by security. The circumstances of this horror are obvious. David became reclusive, touchy and dexterous. We lost job, money, respect from our family and friends, a desire for work, belief in our future and health. We received a visa in Ekaterinburg on 2 February 1998, control # —————- (contact the author) Visa R-1 and R-2 ————-.
Therefore dear Steven we need your help. You can send me correspondence through fax or email. That is all. Good luck. I wait for your answer. Sincerely, Araxia 3 July 2000.
Child Abuse as Forced Labor at the Church of Scientology
The story of Araxia’s son David and his sister are not the only known reports of child abuse at the Church of Scientology. In the International Religious Freedom Report (October 7, 2002) they quote a report from FACT Net (Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) about two sisters Beth and Kristi, daughters of Scientologists who entered the Church at the ages of 9 and 8, respectively. The report reviewed an interview with Beth, then 25 and a former member of the Church who described what it was like as a child member of the Church of Scientology. A number of things noted in the interview are shared in the comments made in Araxia’s two emails mentioned above.
Beth was 11-years-old when she signed her first “billion year contract”. She recalled that when she was in her early teens she worked every night until at least 10:30 pm including school nights. She noted that when she first went to Clearwater she lived in the same room as her father at the Fort Harrison Hotel (on the Flagship compound). The room itself was very small and infested by cockroaches. Soon after moving to Clearwater she was separated from her father and moved into a larger room with 20 other girls, also under 18 years old. She said that a typical weekly schedule required her to work Sundays from 8 am until 10:30 pm, Monday through Friday from after school until 10:30 pm and noon to 10:30 pm on Saturdays. She figured that her work hours came to at least 50 hours per week in addition to the time she spent in school.
 F.A.C.T. Net, Inc. is a non-profit computer bulletin board and electronic library. (Golden, Colorado)