Willy Fautre – the ECHR decision regarding a yoga practitioner in Romania

Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society

In the proceedings of our side event regarding “Voluntary work in spiritual environments and its criminalization in modern society”, we also had as guest speaker Mr Willy Fautre, the director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, NGO based in Brussels.

Mr Fautre expressed his concern regarding the freedom of spiritual groups and their practices, by presenting the case of a yoga practitioner from MISA yoga school in Romania.

Recently, the European Court of Human Rights convicted Romania in the case of the yoga practitioner Dana C. who was taken by force, kept against her will at a psychiatric hospital where she was force-fed heavy medicine against Schizophrenia. After some months of abuses, Dana C. managed to escape her captivity.

The conviction in the ECHR and human right organisations making her story public highlight the gravity of human rights violations and confirms the social dimension of the yogis’ case in Romania, going beyond an individual and affecting the life of thousands.

We invite you read the presentation of this case made by Mr Fautre.

D.C kidnapped by her parents and forcibly interned in a psychiatric hospital

D.C started yoga at the age of 16. Her parents did not object to it until the media started demonizing the MISA yoga schools. She was 19 – not a minor any more - when her parents forcibly took her to a psychiatric hospital in Iasi-Socola because she was practicing yoga and stopped eating meat. For ten days, she was submitted to a wide range of tests but the doctors did not detect any psychological or mental problem and did not give her any treatment. When she was released, her parents confiscated her ID. A few months later, she decided to go to Bucharest to continue her studies. There she met A.M.C., a yoga practitioner, who was to become her husband later on.

One year later, on 19th January 2005, she went to Bârlad city hall with her fiancé to pick up a duplicate birth certificate from the civil status service. The paper was necessary for their marriage and for signing-up at the University in Bucharest.

When they arrived at the town hall, she was suddenly surrounded by her parents, her brother and another woman. Her mother convinced her to speak to her outside the building before picking up her birth certificate. In front of the building were also her paternal grandparents along with a blond man. Once they were on the street, they all changed their attitude toward her: they cursed her and behaved aggressively, being very upset that she was practicing yoga in MISA and she wanted to get married with A.M.C.

The grandfather together with her brother slammed her fiancé to the ground and started to beat him. During this time, the father and the mother pushed her with extreme violence into their car. She was all the time unable to act and defend herself.

She tried to escape and yelled for help at people around but in vain. She was then forcibly taken away to her maternal grandparents in the village of Asău, Bacau County. There they stripped her, took off her clothes and gave her old ones. They also took her boots and gave her old slippers. Her personal money and identity card were taken away from her. She was constantly threatened and kept in a state of strong emotional tension. She was under constant surveillance, even when going to the toilet. Her mother took unpaid leave to stay permanently with her and watch her. She slept in the same bed with her at night. During this period the tension to which she was subjected, threats, surveillance and isolation, created an unbearable sufferance for her.

On 3rd February 2005 her parents requested the intervention and collaboration of a psychiatrist and they forcibly took her to Nifon-Acuţi Psychiatric Hospital, near Buzău. Their objective was to prevent her from attending the MISA yoga classes and to permanently separate her from her fiancé that she wanted to marry.

When she entered the hospital, the nurse at the doctor's office was already completing the necessary formalities for her internment, without even having been examined by the doctor and without her expressing agreement. She did not want to be hospitalized and told the nurse. She replied: “Never mind, you will remain here for a few weeks and quiet down” and the then hospital director interned her against her will (violation of the Code of Medical Ethics, Law on the profession of physician 306/2004 and Law nr.487/2002).

D.C.’s forcible internment lasted for 8 weeks. Since the first day she was given Leponex (Clozaril or Clozapine) three times per day - a drug with powerful effects that is administered in very advanced stages of schizophrenia - although she was never diagnosed with this illness by any medic and never had manifestations in this respect. A nurse asked her to sign a paper but under the effect of the drug treatment, she did not know what she signed.

D.C. did not agree with her hospitalization at any time. She lived moments of paralyzing fear and could not in any way oppose this inhumane and illegal deprivation of freedom.

She was unable to run away because the hospital (a former monastery) is located in a forest at about 40 km from Buzau and there was no transportation means, except a minibus for the medical staff. She had no clothes and no identity papers; she was surrounded by her parents, grandparents, doctors, nurses who were all determined to keep her in the hospital against her will. Clozapine therapy was administered during the whole duration of her confinement. The effects of this treatment consisted in dizziness and very strong headaches, nausea, very marked drowsiness, more than 12 hours sleep per day, constipation and urinary incontinence. She could not control her movements, could not move alone, had unbearable nausea, felt like a “vegetable”. During sleep, Clozapine provoked a strong salivation. Also, after treatment she gained over 15kg, had greatly decreased immunity, prolonged menstrual bleeding and was told that for one year she would not be able to procreate.

D.C. told HRWF Int’l that the head of the hospital personally administered her treatment morning, noon and night. He was assisted by nurses who forced her to open her mouth, lift the tongue and did a finger check whether she was not hiding the pill. There was no way to avoid taking the drugs.

After eight weeks of hospitalization in Nifon hospital, her mother and father took her, also without her consent, back to her maternal grandparents in the village of Asău. Her mother continued to take unpaid leave, slept with her in bed, watched her permanently and continued to administer Clozapine. During this time D.C. was unable to contact her fiancé or another person who could have saved her. She was unlawfully deprived of freedom for an additional period of approximately 9 months. Later on, D.C. found out that during these 9 months of unlawful confinement she received a huge amount of letters and parcels from her fiancé and friends, which were confiscated and hidden away by her family.

On 10th October 2005 she managed to escape with the help of her fiancé and some friends.

Soon after that, D.C. finally got married and resumed her university courses at the Faculty of Law in Bucharest. The conflict with her family has still not attenuated to this day.


See http://www.hrwf.net/images/reports/2013/Misa.pdf (HRWF report about MISA yoga school and repression of yoga practitioners in Romania. The case of Dana C had then been investigated by HRWF in 2013 and is detailed in the report).