A CHURCH UNDER SIEGE!

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Timothy Richards

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Oct 3, 1993, 4:37:28 AM10/3/93
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The Family
14118 Whittier Blvd. Suite 116,
Whittier, CA 90605
Phone: 1-(800)-4-A-FAMILY
Fax: 1-(310)-694-6685
E-mail: crus...@cerf.net
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Family in Argentina,
A Church Under Siege

September 24, 1993

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on September 1, 1993, five Christian
communities belonging to an international missionary church known as
The Family were raided by police in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thirty-
nine adults were arrested and 137 children were detained. The church
members involved were citizens of the United States, Canada,
Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Great Britain, Spain and
France, among others.

International media picked up the news of the raids, and lurid
stories of an evil and abusive "sex cult" immediately made headlines
worldwide. What the world was not told about was 1) the brutal and cruel
manner in which the raids were conducted, 2) that the federal judge who
ordered the raids, Roberto Marquevich, is extremely prejudiced against
our fellowship and has been working in direct collusion with embittered
ex-members whose publicly avowed goal is to destroy The Family, and 3)
the manner in which the media was purposely fed disinformation by
unprincipled public officials and detractors of our church.

In this report we will highlight the human rights abuses, the
subversion of justice, and the religious bigotry which have marked this
case since its beginning.

However, before delving into the details of the case and the
irregularities surrounding it, we wish to state that our detractors
have ceaselessly provoked the Argentine authorities to investigate
our communities there since 1987. Since then we have undergone no less
than 10 separate investigations in Argentina. In each instance, our
members have been found innocent of all criminal charges raised
against them. Prior to the September 1st raids, the Argentine
authorities had physically and psychologically examined 173 of our
children and had not found one instance of abuse whatsoever. As
recently as August 17, 1993, the minors judge in Cordoba, Argentina,
acquitted our church members there of any misconduct or mistreatment
of their children. We have no doubt that our members will again be
proven absolutely innocent of the heinous accusations currently being
raised against them in Buenos Aires.

In numerous cases worldwide (in the United States, Australia,
Norway, Spain and Venezuela), "anti-cult" hate groups and a small band
of vengeful ex-members have conspired to barrage the authorities and
the media with disinformation and false accusations against our
fellowship. Their goal is to incite the police or social services to take
action against our communities. In every case where the authorities
were sufficiently pressured to intervene, we have been found innocent
of any criminal wrongdoing. Worldwide, court-appointed officials have
thoroughly examined over 600 of our children, and not one instance of
abuse has been discovered, and our members have been exonerated in
every case.


Human Rights Violated by Argentine Authorities
Testimonies of Tyranny

The manner in which the September 1st raids were conducted is an
affront to democracy and human decency. The violent and callous
behavior of the police traumatized the very children they claimed to
be "rescuing."

Following, in their own words, are accounts of the night of the raids
by some of the victims:

(Throughout the following text, only first names are used, to avoid
possible reprisals.)

(Maria, American citizen:) "There was a lot of confusion when the
police broke into our home. The most frightening thing was that they
put machine guns to the heads of many of our male members, to wake
them up, including a 13-year-old boy. When they broke into a room in
which a number of children were sleeping, the kids were terrified, and
there was a lot of screaming.

"They were very rude, cursing at many of us, including even the
children. We were all awakened in the middle of the night and were not
even allowed to dress. Many of us were very cold as a result. When some
of the men asked the policemen if we would be able to take our clothes
with us, a policeman answered, `Aren't you Christians?' When they
answered yes, he told them, `Well, Christians are supposed to suffer!'
They also told some of the children that they would never see their
parents again."

(Rafael, Spanish citizen:) "On the first of September, at 2 a.m., we
were awakened by a lot of yelling and commotion. `Police! Police! Open
the door! Open the door!' they yelled repeatedly. I and another person
went outside and opened the gate, and the officers pointed their
machine guns and pistols at my head. They came into the house, and
using the barrels of their guns, woke up the kids, who were terrified.
The children couldn't understand what was going on. It was like a
nightmare.

"They wouldn't allow us to contact our lawyers. For hours we
continued to ask permission to speak with our lawyers, claiming our
constitutional rights. The authorities denied us this right each time
we asked. When we arrived at the Institute where we were taken, we
asked the director to assist us with this request, but she also
refused to help. She said she couldn't, as it was against the judge's
orders."

(Gabriel, Spanish citizen, 13 years old:) "I awoke to all these
frightening noises and I heard a voice saying, `Get up, get up!' I was
half asleep and I thought that I was dreaming, but all of a sudden I felt
they were hitting me with some kind of an object. I opened my eyes and
I found that I had a machine gun pointed at my stomach. At that moment,
I was really troubled, and I started thinking about my parents and my
sister. I know that my parents are Christians and that's why we are
persecuted."

(Phillip, American citizen:) "Just before 3:00 a.m., the police came
to our community, yelling and pounding on the door, shouting, `Police!
Police! Open the door!' I was in bed with my wife, who was nursing our
baby son. As I got up, the police broke down the door. Afterwards, on
television reports, they said they didn't break anything, but we have
a smashed door to prove they did.

"They were very crass and crude in front of our children. When one
of our Argentine members was asking a policeman about what was going
on, the officer suddenly became very aggravated at his questions and
said, in front of a room full of children, `What do I care about your
questions?~Suck my d__k!'"

(Ben, Mexican citizen:) "During the raid on our community in Pilar,
there was a lot of confusion, and yelling. One of the 11-year-old
children came running to me very frightened, saying that a policewoman
named Alicia had told her after she had accidentally stepped on the
woman's toe, `If you touch me again, I'm going to kill you! Do you
understand? I'm going to kill you.'

"When some of our teenagers were helping to gather some personal
belongings for the younger children to take with them, a policewoman
challenged them, `Why are you preparing these things?' The teens
replied, `For the younger kids, so they can take some of their things
with them.' The policewoman then sneered, `You don't need to worry
about them, you're never going to see them again. And you people think
you are children of God, but the children of the devil are going to take
everything you have away from you!'"

(Diego, Argentine citizen:) "According to Police Commissioner Juan
Carlos Rebollo, there wasn't any violence during the raids. However, in
our house, they didn't even ring the doorbell. They came and
immediately began to break down the door. I peeked out through a little
vent in the door to see what was going on, and a policeman shoved his
gun in my face and ordered me to open the door.

"They refused to let us call a lawyer. According to the officer in
charge of the raid, the judge (Marquevich) had given them orders not to
let any of us call a lawyer. Also, they never showed us a search
warrant or any kind of legal papers."


An Unprecedented Media Smear, Orchestrated by Marquevich
"Cult-Bashing" on an International Scale

Immediately after the raids, the local Argentine press, as well as
the international wire services, were rife with reports of heinous
crimes committed by what was erroneously dubbed the "sex-for-
salvation sect" in Buenos Aires. Judge Marquevich and prosecutor
Carlos Villafuerte worked overtime providing sensational sound bites
to the media. Few observers paused to question how a judge could so
strongly condemn a group of suspects of such serious crimes before
questioning them or reviewing the supposed evidence gathered from
their homes. The judge's predetermined verdict of "GUILTY!" rang out
loud and clear, with the wire services disseminating his allegations as
facts.

(Before we review these lurid and patently false allegations, we
wish to make it clear that we categorically and emphatically deny them
all. Each of these accusations was carefully concocted to demonize our
movement and to attempt to justify the actions of Marquevich and his
storm troopers. Anyone who personally knows us will recognize how
absolutely ludicrous these charges are.)

In the initial reports from Buenos Aires, Marquevich declared that
The Family was guilty of a host of serious criminal activities, ranging
from kidnapping and operating an international prostitution ring, to
wholesale physical and sexual abuse of children. The local press had a
field day, with numerous front-page stories alleging that the "rescued"
children had been found in deplorable "jail-like conditions," living in
"bedrooms plastered with nude photographs," and that "their
electricity was just one little light bulb." Marquevich was unflinching
in asserting, "These are abandoned children." One Buenos Aires daily
went so far as to say, "Judicial sources reveal that the sect is
involved in international prostitution as well as drug trafficking, and
are owners of 50% of the Medellin drug ring."

The international wire services echoed sinister allegations from
the judge. Typical headlines screamed, "Argentine Police Raid Sect, Say
Children Enslaved, Used For Sex!" On September 2nd The Associated
Press reported that the court was charging Family adults with
"conspiracy to kidnap and conceal children." (Ed.: It should be noted
that all of the children found in our homes were our own children, who
were living with their own biological parents. The only "kidnapping" that
took place was when the police ripped them away from their parents.) On
the very day of the raids, prosecutor Carlos Villafuerte confidently
told the world that "initial testimony showed that some of the minors
were subjected to sexual acts or suffered physical abuse and injuries
from the leaders of the group." Mind you, this bold assertion was made
by Villafuerte before any of the children had been examined by doctors
and before any of their parents had made their official declarations.
With no regard for our members' right to due process, Marquevich made
headlines, proclaiming himself the heroic "rescuer" of our children,
whom he claimed were "found in the virtual state of servitude."

Decent folks everywhere were appalled by Reuters' description of
"grisly details emerging about hardcore videos of sex between adults
and children and other activities of the sect." Immediately after the
raids the shocking story went out that "the judge, Roberto Marquevich,
said the police had found a videotape showing a father having sex with
his daughter" (The New York Times, Sept. 3). (Ed.: We have never made or
allowed any such videos in our homes.) On the same day Reuters
confirmed, "Court sources said one tape showed a father having sex
with his daughter and another showed children masturbating in front of
adults." (Ed.: If "court sources" actually said this, they are viciously
lying! No such videos were ever made or allowed in our communities!) UPI
added that some videos allegedly "showed scenes of lesbian oral sex
between women and girls." (Ed.: Not our videos! We do not, and have never
allowed such illicit behavior!)

Reuters also reported, "Argentine officials [were] horrified by
emerging signs of a global child-sex network," and that court officials
were "pointing to a system in which children appear to have been moved
around the globe." (Ed.: We do NOT tolerate child sex in The Family, and
we certainly do not have a "global child-sex network"! We were horrified
that such groundless filth could be uttered and published against us!
Any children who were "moved around the globe" were travelling with
their parents, who are missionaries. That's what missionaries usually
do, isn't it?~Move around the globe to preach the Gospel of God's Love
to others! Is this a crime?) Marquevich's secretary, Emilio Senise,
grimly informed Reuters, "It's horrible.... There might even be children
born of (incest between) fathers and their daughters and other things
like that." (Ed.: These lies are what are horrible. We do not tolerate
incest.) The BBC went so far as to broadcast on the world news that
"Judge Marquevich said he had received statements from witnesses and
former members of the sect who alleged that children were used in
satanic acts." (Ed.: If anything is satanic here, it's lies like this! We
are Christians who are at war against Satan. To imply that we would use
our own dear children in "satanic acts" is a malicious travesty of the
truth!)

If all of this wasn't horrific enough, then came grisly reports that
the "rescued" children were severely damaged by the terrible lifestyle
of the evil "cult." Police Commissioner Juan Carlos Rebollo was quoted
in the international media as saying that when the children were
awakened by the police at two and three in the morning, they "were like
zombies, with sad eyes and a lost look as though they were somewhere
else." (Ed.: How would your children look if they were awakened at 3:00
a.m. by thugs pointing weapons at them, taking them away and telling
them they would never see their parents again? Ours were terrified!)
Soon afterwards, the world was told that court officials reported that
the seized children "appear to have suffered severe mental damage."
(Ed.: Hundreds of our children have been psychologically examined by
experts, whose evaluations have unanimously shown our children to
possess excellent mental health and social skills.) Contradicting the
police commissioner's earlier "zombie" allegations, Reuters reported
that "a source close to the prosecution" had said, "The children didn't
look too bad physically, but there appears to be a serious trend of
mental and psychological degeneration. They're very backward and
closed to the outside world." (Ed.: Examining experts have all said just
the opposite.)


Independent Officials' Assessments of Seized Children

The Family strongly denies that any of the children seized by
Argentine police suffered any abuse prior to the brutal raids ordered
by Marquevich. Unfortunately, many of our children were abused and
traumatized by the brutal manner in which the raids were conducted.
Our children all had suitable living quarters, were well clothed, and
were well fed with nutritious food.

In response to the horrific stories in the international press that
over 100 severely abused, mentally-damaged, "zombie-like" children of
mixed nationalities were "rescued" from a sinister cult, a number of
officials from concerned embassies in Buenos Aires visited our
children in the institutions where they were being held. Some of their
comments made news.

The Buenos Aires Herald of September 4 reported that after
investigating, the spokesmen for the British embassy said, in stark
contrast to Marquevich's allegations, "These children show no signs of
mistreatment, they did not ask for any legal assistance, and they
showed no signs of wanting to leave the group."

The September 8 edition of the Chilean daily newspaper, La Naci"n,
described in detail the findings of Chile's consul general in Buenos
Aires, following his visit to the institution where five Chilean children
are being held:

"Chile's consul general in Buenos Aires, Fernando Bachelet Mart!nez,
said, `We verified beyond any doubt that the children were in a good
physical and psychological state of health. Furthermore, we spoke to
the doctors who are examining the children, with the lawyers, with the
social workers, and with the directors of the centers to make sure the
children were fine and had not suffered any of the abuses that this
organization has been accused of. All the Chilean minors are in perfect
condition, they are being very well taken care of. They were not
`rescued' as has been reported, since they are there [in The Family] of
their own free will together with their parents who are also members
of this organization, which the press has called a sect and which they
themselves call The Family,' he declared.

"The consul added that the minors emphatically denied having been
abused sexually or having been forced to indulge in any type of sexual
aberration with their parents or other adults."

Another Chilean paper, La Segunda, reported in its September 10
edition that the director of the Argentine National Council for the
Family and the Child, Atilio Alvarez, had also given an on-the-record
description of the "rescued" children. Alvarez is responsible for the
detained Family children. La Segunda reported that he said,

"They seem like normal children. And regarding discipline, they are
`ideal': they don't smoke, they don't drink alcohol, they don't take drugs
and they only eat macrobiotic food. They don't like rock music.... They
are constantly praying, pronouncing the name of Jesus, and every time
they are given something they say, `Thank you! God bless you!'"

If these children were in a condition that even faintly resembled
the horrendously abused "zombie" state that Marquevich and his hacks
offered the media, then why did these three responsible officials
report just the opposite?


Child Abuse Forbidden in Family Communities

The Family does not tolerate child abuse of any kind within our
communities. We love, cherish and protect our children, doing our
utmost to give them the best care possible, as we strive to "bring them
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4), as the
Bible says. Strict rules are in place in our communities, clearly
forbidding any kind of sexual contact between adults and minors. If any
offenders are discovered, they are immediately expelled from our
fellowship.

Reports that hardcore pornographic video tapes were found in our
homes are also absolutely false. No such tapes are allowed in any of
our communities. These allegations were disseminated by corrupt
officials to try to justify their violent raids upon our peaceful
missionary communities. If any video tapes of this nature were indeed
found on our premises, they were planted there by officers who are
working in collusion with our detractors.

A member of The Family reiterated this policy when released from
prison. The Associated Press reported on September 4th,

"Thirteen adults were released from custody on Friday. One, Enrique
Lacuesta, a Uruguayan citizen, told reporters that prosecutors
couldn't prove any of the charges and accused police of planting
pornographic video cassettes during the raids. `We are strictly
forbidden, under penalty of excommunication, to so much as touch a
minor in a sexual manner,' Lacuesta said."

The logical question that comes to mind is, if our members in
Argentina are genuinely innocent of the serious crimes of which they
have been accused, then how can a man like Marquevich, who bears the
honoured title of "judge," be so adamant in his condemnation of them?
After all, Argentina is supposed to be a democracy, where an accused
party is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet
here we have a judge in whom is invested the grave responsibility of
weighing the evidence in any given case and deciding who is guilty or
innocent under the law, declaring an entire religious movement guilty
of heinous crimes. Marquevich's involvement with two foreign
individuals sheds considerable light on his seemingly inexplicable
behavior.

The Role of Disgruntled Ex-members
The "Judas" Factor

Rick Dupuy

What has happened to our church in Argentina is nothing more than
religious persecution. Of course, Marquevich and the prosecution have
maintained that religion has nothing to do with it, that their actions
against our communities are simply a matter of justice being served.
However, since the raids, we have learned from an investigative
journalist for Clarin (Argentina's most widely read newspaper), that a
bitter ex-member of The Family, Richard Dupuy, flew from the U.S. to
Argentina to advise the judge for one week prior to the raids. We have
also learned that Dupuy's time of consultation with Marquevich was
extended to six weeks.

Dupuy is a prime player in an international drive that is currently
under way to wipe out The Family. He travels around the world sharing
heart-rending stories with the media of how the "big bad cult"
supposedly mistreated him. Dupuy's tales are pure hype, designed to
gain sympathetic press and support for himself and his campaign to
destroy our fellowship. While he sheds crocodile tears before the
cameras about how all he wants to do is see his wife and daughter, he
conspicuously avoids telling his listeners that his wife has issued a
sworn affidavit in which she categorically states that she wishes to
have nothing more to do with him. Nor does he tell his audience that his
daughter is an adult woman, 22 years of age, married and with two
children of her own. She has also expressly stated her desire to avoid
him.

Contrary to his woeful tales of "escaping" from The Family in early
1992, Dupuy departed on friendly terms, with The Family paying his
airfare from Japan to the U.S. The Family community in Japan generously
gave him five thousand dollars to help him get settled in America.
However, after being "exit-counseled" by a number of "anti-cult"
psychiatrists, Dupuy chose to blame all of his long-standing personal
problems on The Family, and virtually declared war on us. (It should be
noted that Dupuy had a history of sexual perversions and mental
instability before he became a member of The Family. Shortly before
becoming a Christian, he was interned for six weeks in the psychiatric
ward of the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.) Dupuy is currently
affiliated with America's biggest "anti-cult" outfit, the Cult Awareness
Network (CAN).

Following are direct excerpts from an audio tape that Dupuy made
to Family members in Japan shortly after his "exit-counseling." His own
admission that he is determined to ruthlessly persecute The Family,
combined with the fact that he played an essential role in Marquevich's
planning and execution of raids against our communities, makes it
evident that what we are suffering in Argentina is indeed religious
persecution. Dupuy threatened The Family, saying,

"If you guys think you can f__k with me ... then go ahead. I dare you.
Try it and see what happens. I'll be the worst, most motivated,
dedicated, ruthless enemy you have ever had. I will `pioneer'
persecution!... You can let The Family know that I'm going to continue to
be the most ruthless person you ever dealt with!"

Marquevich's collaboration with characters like Rick Dupuy is a
mockery of justice, and dispels any claim that he is unprejudiced in his
actions against The Family.


Ed Priebe

Another key player in this case is Ed Priebe. Priebe, like Dupuy, is
an embittered former member who has also sworn to destroy our church.
Along with Dupuy, he was featured prominently in various newspaper
reports in Buenos Aires as being a "key witness" for Marquevich.
However, the press failed to mention (as we're sure he also failed to
mention), that Priebe himself is a wanted criminal and fugitive from
justice.

In September, 1992, Priebe traveled to the Philippines with the
intent of stealing church property. By impersonating a Family official,
he lied and wormed his way into our community in Manila. He
subsequently gained access to a storage facility from which he stole
13 trunks of audio masters of musical recordings (which have since been
independently valued at over three million dollars). Although Priebe
was arrested for theft by the Philippine National Bureau of
Investigation, he fled the country.

Among the stolen tapes, Priebe discovered two or three old video
tapes of semi-nude female Family members dancing. These video tapes
had been removed from Family communities in the mid-1980s, and were
supposed to have been destroyed. The tapes Priebe found were
overlooked and long-forgotten in this Manila storage. The videos were
made in the early 1980s, during a time when our communities operated
much more independently than they do today. It was also a phase of our
movement when we were discovering and proclaiming our sexuality, an
era when we, like much of society, were much more naive about sexual
matters than we are today. However, since 1985 we have imposed
guidelines and restrictions within our communities prohibiting the
production or possession of any videos of this nature.

Priebe attempted to use these stolen and outdated video tapes to
blackmail us. When we refused his demands (which we have in writing, with
his signature) and filed criminal charges against him with the F.B.I.,
Priebe, in concert with Dupuy, launched an international campaign in
which they use these outdated stolen videos to incite officials to act
against our communities.

It is no coincidence that the so-called "pornographic" videos of
veiled girls dancing, which the prosecution claims were found in our
Buenos Aires communities, are the same as those that Priebe stole in
Manila. Any such videos did not originate from our Argentine homes as
Marquevich claims, but from Ed Priebe and the Argentine officials with
whom he has conspired. If the prosecution produces any videos which
are indeed pornographic, depicting sex between adults and minors (which
they claim to have), these have absolutely no link to our fellowship,
past or present, and will be proven to be false evidence. By the way,
Priebe also traveled to Argentina last July to help lay the groundwork
for Marquevich's September 1st raids.

The role of persons like Dupuy and Priebe in the raids against our
communities, the imprisonment of our members, and the apprehension of
our children raises hard questions about the ethical soundness of the
Argentine justice system, and especially the integrity of Federal
Judge Roberto Marquevich.


Doctors Declare, "No Signs of Abuse"
Marquevich Claims that He Knows Better

After having multiple charges of child abuse heaped upon them in the
media, Family members in Argentina felt vindicated when the panel of 20
doctors appointed by the court to physically examine the seized
children declared no signs of abuse were present.

On September 4, Reuters reported, "Argentine Supreme Court
forensic experts found no evidence of sexual abuse in 137 children
taken into custody in the `Family of Love' cult case ... The mass-
circulation Clarin and the Pagina/12 dailies, citing sources close to
the probe, said forensic reports submitted to the court handling the
case established that physical examinations of the children turned up
no signs of abuse."

However, despite the testimony of 20 forensic experts, Marquevich,
determined to prosecute The Family, declared several days later that
nine of the 137 seized children bore "sexual wounds." The doctors who
conducted the actual examinations of the children immediately disputed
the judge's claims. The leading Buenos Aires daily, Pagina/12, quoted a
spokesman for the medical team on September 11, stating, "No kind of
questionable lesion that would confirm a sexual violation was found."

The judge then ordered a second set of examinations of our
children. A number of children were very upset and traumatized by the
initial physical exams, which they found extremely degrading and
dehumanizing. A Family teen who underwent both examinations
complained,

"The second set of physical exams was `morbid,' even worse than the
first ones. The doctors were screaming at us. We all came back from the
tests burning mad. Even M., who is usually very calm and relaxed about
things, was extremely upset at the way we were handled and humiliated."

On September 19, we received the following report from Buenos Aires
about the traumatic experience one of our 11-year-old girls had just
undergone:

"P. had to endure three exhaustive gynecological examinations. Two
of those were done in a period of three hours, and the third was done
in the courthouse. In one of the exams, there were five doctors
present and another man with a camera. Of those doctors, only the
woman had gloves; the others (all men) checked her without gloves.

"They first opened the 11-year-old's vagina so wide that it caused
her to scream out in pain. The doctors then inserted an optical
instrument into her vagina, which was also very painful. The girl's
mother and another female church member were present and begged the
doctors to stop. P. began to resist the doctors, so two of them held
her down by force and another one covered her mouth.

"The examination was so terrifying for her, that as soon as it was
over, P. vomited. These examinations were conducted very forcefully,
and were very painful for her, and left her in a severely traumatized
condition. Just the thought of another doctor examining her is
horrifying for her. Before the raids and the ensuing examinations, she
was a very happy and bubbly girl. Now she's fearful and even has a hard
time sleeping. Her mother is doing all she can to comfort her, and we're
all praying that she'll recover soon."

And Marquevich has the gall to accuse us of child abuse?


More Institutionalized Child Abuse

In our Family communities, we go to great lengths to ensure that
our children are reared in as safe and loving an environment as
possible. For this reason, they suffer very few serious accidents or
injuries. However, in numerous cases when misled state authorities
have intervened and attempted to "rescue" our children from our care,
the children have frequently suffered serious accidents due to the
unsafe conditions and neglect which are prevalent in many social
service institutions. The following report from Family members in
Buenos Aires was written on September 20:

"Today we learned of a number of accidents that have happened with
our children over the last few days. Two of the younger children had to
receive stitches for accidents they suffered in the institutions:
David, because a steel rod fell on his head when he was closing a
window, and Sebby, because he fell while playing outside. One of Ester
and Juan's younger children got ahold of some rat poison and ate it.
Thank God there was no serious damage done.

"Nine-year-old Nico of Elena has started bedwetting ever since he's
been in the institute, something he hasn't done since he was a toddler.
At one of the institutes, one of the boys there hit one of our kids. His
mother, Cecilia, tried to talk to the other boy, explaining that it's not
good to be violent. The boy went and told his mother, who was also in
the institute, and she returned and threatened to harm Cecilia. So our
children and their mothers are having a pretty rough time.

"The most traumatic incident is a report we heard about six-year-
old Victoria. She is being held in the Carraboba Institute. At least
she's there with her mom and her brothers and sisters. Unfortunately,
there are a few people in that institute who frequently have epileptic
fits. This, of course, is very frightening for our children, especially
the younger ones. Anyway, little Victoria was in the kitchen of the
institute yesterday when a woman began having an epileptic seizure.
The woman fell to her knees and suddenly reached out and grabbed
Victoria, and began screaming at her incoherently and violently shaking
her. Thank the Lord that teen Christina (16 years old) was there, as she
was able to free Victoria from the woman's grip. Poor Victoria was
literally terrified, and has been crying a lot ever since. Like all the
kids, she just wants to go home."


Irregularities After the Arrests
Officers Attempt to Falsify Statements

(Francisco, Brazilian citizen:) "They put 12 of us into two different
rooms to make our legal declarations. When it was my turn, they asked
me my name, how long I'd been a member of The Family, and then a list of
`yes' and `no' questions, which a policeman was filling in. Then they
said, `Here, man, sign this paper, we don't have time to waste.' But I
insisted on reading it over before signing it. He reluctantly handed me
the paper and said, `Hurry up.' But I noticed that he had put a few
`yes's' where I had definitely said `no.' I protested, and said that he
needed to correct those points. He told me that he had 20 more people
waiting to declare (which was not true), and that I could come back later
to change the answers. Another officer then came in and said, `What's
wrong with this guy, doesn't he want to declare?' When I explained that
there were five questions marked incorrectly on my declaration, he
then threatened me, `Do you want to get out of here or would you
prefer to stay in jail with your friends?'"

(Steven, Argentine citizen:) "When we were questioned, our answers
were frequently not written down as we gave them. When we protested
about this, the police wouldn't change what they had written. There was
also a lot of intimidation and threatening to get people to give the
answers the police wanted, and then to get us to sign statements which
were inaccurate."


Women's Jail Described as "Dungeon"

The Argentine daily La Naci"n reported Dr. Marcos Azerrad's strong
condemnation of the squalid prison conditions in which women members
of The Family have been held. Azerrad is an attorney for Mrs. Sara
Martinez Gal n, 59, who was jailed on September 1st when police raided
her private residence in Buenos Aires, mistaking it to be one of our
church's communities. La Naci"n reported on September 14, that after
visiting his client, Azerrad stated,

"The room looked more like a dungeon than a cell." He added that for
two weeks his client "had been among eight women, including Canadian
Claire Borowick and American Jackie Roberts, [who] were locked up in a
2.20 x 2.10 meter room with only one small mattress, one blanket, no
window, no ventilation and no toilet.... Such conditions would be
absolutely degrading for any individual."


Released Family Members Not Allowed to Go Home

On September 3, 19 of the 39 jailed adult members of The Family were
released. However, Marquevich decreed that none of the released
missionaries were allowed to return to their rented homes. Armed
guards were posted outside each Family home with instructions to
arrest any Family members attempting to re-enter the premises. In a
phone call to her husband in America, one of the 19 released Family
members described the situation thus:

(Mary, American citizen:) "I'm here with Solomon [her eldest son].
Theresa and all the other children are detained. Please go to the
Argentine embassy and protest about what they're doing to your
children and your grandchildren. They won't even let me in to visit or
see them. I can only talk to them by phone. I had to go down and apply to
get permission from the court to be able to get in to see them, but the
judge has up to fifteen days to decide whether I can go in to see my own
children.

"They have us locked out of our houses. The judge has all of the
houses closed up and under guard. So when he released over a dozen of
us from jail they warned us, `Don't go back to your houses or we'll put
you back in jail.' So we're staying with friends and relatives, mostly
other Christians who have been willing to help us.

"Most of the people at the institutions have told us how they
expected a bunch of abused and messed-up kids to come in, and that
they've been very surprised at what beautiful and healthy children we
have. At the main institution where around 80 of our kids are being
held, even the employees are being forced to stay there. One of the
women who works there told me, `I haven't even been able to go home
since you people came here.' It looks like the authorities are afraid to
let the employees out because they know that anyone who interviews
them will find out what wonderful children we have, and how all the
stories of abuse are nonsense.

"Solomon has been wearing the same clothes he went to jail in, he
doesn't have any other clothes to change into. They won't let him into
our home for even a few minutes to get some clothing. They have guards
out in front of all of our homes. They're treating us worse than drug
traffickers or hardcore criminals. But it seems like some people are
starting to realize that we're obviously being discriminated against
and mistreated. There was an article in the paper today that said that
Argentina hasn't had so much international press coverage and
complaints from other countries for years. The article featured a
photo of our brethren in the Philippines protesting in front of the
Argentine embassy in Manila."


Known Deprogrammers Employed by Judge

We not only believe that this case in Buenos Aires is a classic case
of religious persecution, but we now have evidence that professional
"faith-breakers" are being employed. It was just revealed that a
psychologist appointed by the court to evaluate our children actually
works for an organisation that seeks the dissolution of The Family. Dr.
Maria Lourdes Molina is a psychologist who was appointed by Judge
Marquevich to evaluate our children. She works for SPES, an
organization which advocates forcible deprogramming and publicly
campaigns for the outlawing of New Religious Movements such as The
Family. SPES is the Argentine counterpart of the Cult Awareness
Network (CAN) in the U.S.

By no stretch of the imagination can a member of SPES be
considered impartial when conducting psychological evaluations of our
children. Her appointment by Marquevich is a travesty of justice. We
are therefore concerned that our incarcerated members and their
children are being subjected to state-sponsored deprogramming in
Argentina. To hold them against their will and subject them to
deprogrammers whose goal is to try to strip them of their faith is a
violation of their fundamental human rights.


Is Uncle Sam Behind this Mess?

The Los Angeles Times of September 4 quoted Gary Sheaffer,
spokesman for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs,
saying,

"Basically we don't know a whole lot. This is pretty much an
Argentine arrest. We are sorting out who are Americans and who are
not, and will probably have more information next week."

However, the San Jose Mercury News, published one day earlier, on
September 3, revealed quite the opposite:

"Marquevich said the impetus for the investigation came from pleas
by two American families who had failed to get the group to give back
their children. Argentine court authorities said the U.S. embassy had
shown great interest in the case, especially after the fiery death of
David Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers in Waco, Texas, in
April."

The Argentine paper, The Buenos Aires Herald, confirmed U.S.
embassy involvement in the raids, saying that Marquevich reopened a
1989 case due to a report passed on to him by the American government.
A meeting is said to have taken place between Marquevich and the U.S.
consul, Nicholas Ricciuti, in which they discussed children being sought
by U.S. authorities.

An official statement issued by the Argentine government to all of
its embassies regarding the current case against The Family says that
the recent raids on our communities were related to a 1989 case, in
which The Family was acquitted. But the memo adds that this former
case "has recently been reopened due to new claims filed by foreign
aliens." This appears to be a diplomatic and clumsy way for the
Argentineans to say that Americans are behind the current debacle.

One of our American missionaries in Argentina, recently released
from prison, reported:

"The American embassy has been absolutely no help to us
whatsoever. And though they didn't say it in exactly these words, they
have just as good as offered some of our teens American travel
documents if they would leave The Family. Some of the other
consulates, such as the Mexicans, for example, have been very
sympathetic and helpful. But the Americans have been just the
opposite."


Another Family member in Buenos Aires reported that,

"One of the attorneys who is assisting us in our legal battle here
was able to do some investigating into who is backing Marquevich. We
were all surprised when he reported to us that he had found evidence
indicating that the judge is not getting his support from the
Argentinean government, but from the American embassy."

A number of our young adults and teens have reported that the
American consul, Nicholas Ricciuti, has offered his assistance to help
anyone "get out" of The Family. While American Family members have
appealed to the U.S. embassy to help them get out of Marquevich's jails,
embassy staff only seem interested in helping them to get out of their
religion, going so far as to offer travel documents to those who will
deny their faith. Ricciuti is also reported to have made some very
disheartening remarks to incarcerated Family teens, telling them,
"You'd better just forget about the adults who are in jail, they're all
going to be sentenced to 30 years imprisonment."

We have been warned by reliable sources that the anti-religious
organisation, CAN (the Cult Awareness Network), has made considerable
inroads into the U.S. State Department, promoting intolerance, fear and
hatred towards minority religions such as ourselves. We hope that the
seeming complicity of American embassy officials in the cruel and
unjust oppression of our members in Argentina is not indicative of
religious prejudice on the part of the American government.

If the previously quoted press reports are accurate, that the
American government was indeed interested in any of the children in
our Argentine communities, all they had to do was ask us, and we would
have provided them with whatever information they requested. Our
communities in Buenos Aires were open to the public, receiving visitors
daily.

It was therefore absolutely unnecessary for Mr. Ricciuti or any
other American officials to instigate or endorse commando raids on our
peaceful homes. Despite the fact that our homes were open and our
members were available for questioning, our doors were smashed down,
our women and children were terrorized, our members were hauled off
to jail, and our children were ripped away from us. If that is the kind
of treatment that American citizens living abroad can expect from their
own government representatives who are there to supposedly protect
the rights of Americans in foreign lands, may God have mercy!

If agents of the U.S. government are indeed showing "great interest"
in our missionary communities, "especially after the fiery death of
David Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers in Waco, Texas," as the
press reported, and if the treatment we have received from Marquevich
and the Argentine judiciary is any kind of indication of what this
"great interest" means for our communities throughout the world, may
God have mercy! We pray that someone in the U.S. government has
learned from the Waco tragedy that paramilitary assaults and massive
police raids are not the way to make enquiries, gather information or
serve warrants!

We may hold some religious beliefs which seem strange or foreign to
others, but we are not a "destructive cult" as virulent anti-religious
outfits like CAN claim. And we maintain that it is our God-given right
to freely practice our religion, without interference from the state,
providing we are peaceful and law-abiding, which we are. We are not
criminals and we have committed no crimes. We therefore expect the
American government to uphold and defend our Constitutional right of
freedom of worship. We certainly do not expect government
intervention, much less persecution, when we are legally, openly, and
peacefully pursuing our goal of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ
to every creature, and raising our children in the nurture and
admonition of the Lord.

We therefore expect the U.S. State Department and its embassy in
Buenos Aires to formally protest the violation of human rights and
religious liberty that our American members and their children are
presently suffering in Argentina. We urge the American Ambassador to
Argentina to do his utmost to expedite the immediate release of our
American missionaries and their children. And we appeal to the American
people to insist that the American government defend the religious
rights of minorities such as ourselves, not attack them!


An Appeal

A grave miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated against our
church in Argentina. We therefore appeal to the Argentine authorities
to dismiss Roberto Marquevich from any further involvement in this
litigation. Far too many irregularities and prejudicial statements and
actions have occurred for him to assume the title of "judge" in this
case. We also beseech you to insist that the ludicrous charges which
have been laid against our members be dropped.

To authorities worldwide, we emphasise that the doors of our
communities are open. There is no need to behave like storm
troopers~breaking down doors in the middle of the night, brandishing
weapons and violently assaulting our members, and ripping terrified
children away from their parents. If you have any questions, please
seek us out and we will be happy to provide you with answers and
documentation. In many countries, your counterparts have wisely
chosen this approach, and have not been disappointed.

To the media, we request that you report on The Family factually
and without bias or sensationalism. Before publicising the lies of
those whose avowed goal is to see all of our children in our
communities permanently taken away from their parents, we ask that
you meet with us and see for yourself who we are and what we are like.

And to the public, we can only say, as Jesus did to His early
followers, "Come and see!" Millions of people have had their lives
touched or changed by the Gospel of God's Love in Jesus Christ, which
we preach. Perhaps it can help you too!

And we urge fair-minded, freedom-loving people everywhere to pray
with us and help us to secure the early release of our members and
children who remain incarcerated. Please join us in prayer and petition
for the immediate release of all of our members in Argentina. And
please pray for our children's healing from the terrible trauma they
have suffered during these raids.

We welcome your support. Our members in Argentina are presently
hard-pressed in their legal battle to regain their children. Any
financial or legal assistance is greatly appreciated. If you are in a
position to petition the Argentina authorities to remedy the
injustices which have been committed and to expedite the release of
our members and their children, we beg you to do so. Thank you, and may
God bless you.

end


From Timothy Richards (crus...@cerf.net)

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