Youth for Human Rights International Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_for_Human_Rights_International

Youth for Human Rights International logo

Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is an American non-profit organization. Founded and largely staffed and financed by Scientologists, its stated mission is "To teach youth around the globe about human rights, thus helping them to become valuable advocates for the promotion of tolerance and peace."[1]

The organization promotes[2] Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's writings on human rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by sponsoring essay and art contests and by providing materials for students and teaching guides for schools.[3]

According to the Church of Scientology International, Scientologist Mary Shuttleworth founded the organization in August 2001 "in coordination with the Church of Scientology International's Human Rights Office".[4] Scientology's website states that by 2004 it had established activities in more than 26 countries, including Mexico, the United States and Sweden.[5]


YHRI's president and founder is Mary Shuttleworth (formerly Mary Untiedt), former president of YHRI's parent organization International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance. She also founded the Applied Scholastics schools "Shuttleworth Academy" and "Mary's Schoolhouse."[6][7] Shuttleworth holds an executive position at TXL Films,[8] the company that created the music video UNITED with YHRI.[9] She is a Scientologist.[10]

According to the newsletter Church of Scientology International, the executive director of YHRI is Tim Bowles,[11][12] former law partner of Bowles & Moxon, serving as general legal council for the Church of Scientology. Bowles also acts as an advisor to Scientology's Citizens Commission on Human Rights.[13]

Lynsey Bartilson, who appears on the television series Grounded for Life, is a prominent YHRI spokesperson. She was raised and remains a Scientologist, and her mother Laurie Bartilson was a former law partner at Moxon & Bartilson. In her online biography, she states that she worked as creative director and choreographer for the Scientology Celebrity Center's “Kids on Stage for A Better World.”[14]


YHRI has teamed with TXL Films (founded by Taron Lexton, son of YHRI founder Mary Shuttleworth[15]) to create the award-winning music video, "UNITED."[16] In June 2006, they released 30 public service announcements for TV, illustrating each of the 30 rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.,[17] which were created by the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International for YHRI.[18]

Activities and events[edit]

YHRI distributes materials related to its interpretation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and YHRI programs, to schoolchildren in a variety of developed nations, such as the United States,[19] Australia,[20] the United Kingdom[21] and the Czech Republic.[22] YHRI is also active in Germany.[23] In Belgium, it handed out a prize, and also held an awards ceremony in Bulgaria for the same prize.[24] YHRI awarded one prize to a Chinese actress, who promoted the group's views on her web site,[25] and another to a young Israeli Scientologist who screened the film, UNITED, and distributed YHRI materials in his school.[26][27] It held a conference in Zurich.[28] It discussed plans to lecture and distribute its materials to schoolchildren in Ghana and Liberia.[29][30][31][32] It advocated lower school fees in Uganda,[33] and held a peace rally in Nigeria.[34] In South Africa, Mary Shuttleworth's country of origin, it is pushing for a "human rights month."[35] The organization's work is supported by the actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise[36] and cooperates with human rights organizations, such as, allegedly, local chapters of Amnesty International.[37] According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, neither Amnesty in Berlin nor Amnesty International headquarters in London had knowledge of any such collaboration[38] and Amnesty International, as of March 2013, has been removed from the list of collaborators on the YHRI website.[39]

In 2005, Youth for Human Rights International organized a conference at a Los Angeles High School. Stephen Strachan, principal of Jordan High School, said that although he knew some of the organizers were Scientologists, he did not know of YHRI's relationship to the church until the Church of Scientology was listed on publicity materials as a co-sponsor. After learning of the connection, an agreement was negotiated to remove any mention of the Church of Scientology from literature, and letters were sent to parents saying students would need permission to attend the event.[40][41]

In 2007, YHRI led a pilot human rights course in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, at which it distributed L. Ron Hubbard's tract The Way to Happiness to students ranging from 12 to 17 years old, and taught them Scientology jargon like the tone scale, while trying to enroll them in Drug Free Marshalls, a Scientology organization like Narconon. An official in the provincial government said he hoped to bring it to the province's 4.44 million children.[42]


In 2007, at a human rights youth forum organized by YHRI, in Sydney, Australia, three students from Canterbury Girls High School expressed concern at overt references to Scientology in the promotional materials. One said she felt "exploited." The Department of Education is looking into the students' complaints. However, David Clarke, a Liberal of the New South Wales upper house and a member of the Catholic group Opus Dei, said that he had also been unaware of any strong links between the youth forum and the Church of Scientology. But, Clarke added, "I'm a practising Catholic. There was no pushing as far as I could see of Scientology."[1]

A German journalist has accused Scientology of false advertising through YHRI, recruiting members indirectly, and government officials in Germany have said YHRI serves as a cover-up tactic for Scientology.[23][38]

The Florida Holocaust Museum complained that YHRI's connection to Scientology was not disclosed when they worked with them to organize a human rights march in St. Petersburg, Florida in March 2007.[43]

In each of the above cases the YHRI organizer responded that, while the Church of Scientology supported their group, it was a YHRI event, not a Church event and the message was human rights, not Scientology. However, the Herald reported that, on the materials handed out at the event in Australia, L.Ron Hubbard's image and quotes figured more prominently than those of such activists as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.[1]

Ursula Caberta, the Commissioner for the Scientology Task Force of the Hamburg Interior Authority, a Scientology watchdog group, stated the YHRI is one of a number of Scientology-linked groups that mask their connection to the church and seek to attract and recruit the young.[23]

In 1995, the Hamburg Senate released a report on Scientology, describing its structure and the dangers it presented to individuals and society. One passage, citing Scientology documents, clarified the role of all organizations, which, like YHRI, are linked to the church.

"In an internal memo, Scientology described the function of affiliate organizations:

'All organizations and groups form a global network. Each one has its own individual role and responsibilities. But all service organizations have the goal to draw attention to L.Ron Hubbard's technology and deliver it to the public.'

Thus, each activity, however distantly it is related to Scientology, fits into a long-term strategic plan, which is ultimately steered by the highest management."[44]

Scientology, YHRI And Human Rights in Europe[edit]

According to the official Scientology website, YHRI is part of its overall campaign.[45] YHRI, known in German as "Jugend für Menschenrechte," is active in both Switzerland and Germany, organizing human rights conferences for youth to promote religious tolerance.[46] Referring to the campaign, Antje Blumenthal, a member of the German parliament, expressed concern that the good intentions of the young were being misused.[46]

The governments of France[47] and Germany[48][49] have investigated Scientology in regard to human rights violations, investigations the Scientology organization calls discriminatory.[50] It has responded with an opposing campaign through the Church of Scientology International European Office for Public Affairs and Human Rights, using public service announcements issued by YHRI,[51] and created by the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Unwitting highschoolers lured to forum by Scientologists". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2007-03-28.
  2. ^ International Youth Movement Turns To 20th Century Humanitarians for Inspiration, youthforhumanrights.org
  3. ^ (n.d.) About YHRI
  4. ^ Church of Scientology International. "Youth Issues - Human Rights - Church of Scientology International". www.theta.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  5. ^ Church of Scientology International. "Youth for Human Rights International - Church of Scientology Human Rights Department". www.scientology.org. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  6. ^ (n.d.) About Mary Shuttleworth
  7. ^ Meet Education in Scientology
  8. ^ (n.d.)Mary Shuttleworth
  9. ^ (n.d.) About United
  10. ^ Meet Scientologists On-line
  11. ^ International Youth Delegates Spark Human Rights Initiative at David Starr Jordan High School, Church of Scientology International, Human Rights News, October 7, 2005
  12. ^ Youth For Human Rights International - Ghana Human Rights Tour, Church of Scientology International, Human Rights News Forum, June 3, 2006
  13. ^ (n.d.)About Tim Bowles
  14. ^ Lynsey Bartilson's official home page
  15. ^ Pepsi Honors Mother and Son as Everyday Freedom Heroes, Press Release, January 23, 2006
  16. ^ (n.d.) About "United"
  17. ^ (n.d.) Watch Ads
  18. ^ a b Human Rights Message Reaches 130,000 Viewers - Church of Scientology International
  19. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), September 15, 2006, Title: Hoech sixth-grader attended U.N. human rights meeting
  20. ^ The Analyst, May 31, 2006, Title: YHRI Holds Aids Awareness in Paynesville,
  21. ^ Cornish Guardian, September 1, 2005, Title: Cornwall plays host to human rights festival
  22. ^ Czech News Agency CTK, December 9, 2006, Schedule of CTK general news in English, December 10,
  23. ^ a b c Thomas Klatt (2007-01-09). "A form of political extremism". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 2007-04-17.
  24. ^ New Vision, June 14, 2006, Title: Mande Wins Rights Award
  25. ^ South China Morning Post, August 31, 2006, Title: Crusading for human rights
  26. ^ Eglash, Ruth (June 23, 2006). "Haifa boy receives European Human Rights Award. Scientology-linked group rewards Scientologist's project". The Jerusalem Post.
  27. ^ Heruti-Sover, Tali (2007-01-19). "Youth group supported by Scientology". Ynet. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  28. ^ Hindustan Times, March 8, 2006, Title: Human rights is everyone's business
  29. ^ Public Agenda, May 29, 2006, Title: Human Rights Education Ventures to Be Established in Schools
  30. ^ Accra Mail (Ghana) - AAGM, November 6, 2006 Monday, Title: Inculcate human rights education into school curriculum
  31. ^ The Analyst, June 7, 2006, Title: Youth Activist Suggests Edu Rights Ventures,
  32. ^ Africa News, December 7, 2005, Title: Liberia; Take a Fresh Look At Liberia, Says Journalist, Activist
  33. ^ The Monitor, February 27, 2007, Title: Youth Want Govt to Abolish School Fees,
  34. ^ Africa News, March 21, 2007, Title: Human Rights Group Organises Peace Rally
  35. ^ BuaNews, February 7, 2007, Title: Youth Group Urges South Africans to Celebrate Human Rights Month,
  36. ^ Sunday Herald Sun, January 1, 2006, Title: Tom and Katie's gift of rights,
  37. ^ YHRI Collaborators
  38. ^ a b Florentine Fritzen (2006-08-28). "The Scientology System" (in German). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  39. ^ "Worldwide Partners & Collaborators, Groups and Communities Around the World: Youth For Human Rights". www.youthforhumanrights.org. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  40. ^ Rubin, Joel (2005-10-01). "District Scrambles to Ensure Human Rights Event Is Religion-Free". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  41. ^ "Scientology group sponsors school event". UPI Newstrack. 2005-10-01.
  42. ^ "Ndebele flirts with Scientology". Mail & Guardian. 2007-06-10.
  43. ^ Meg Laughlin; Rob Farley (2007-04-07). "Tie to rights march wasn't revealed". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
  44. ^ "Senate report to the citizenry: Scientology" (PDF) (in German). The Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg. 1995-09-26. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  45. ^ "Human Rights Photo Washington DC".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  46. ^ a b Stamm, Hugo. "Scientologists tempt the young". Tages Anzeiger.
  47. ^ Fenech, Georges; Philippe Vuilque (2006). "Investigative commission on the influence of sects and the consequences of their practices on the mental and physical health of children" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-04-16.
  48. ^ "German Embassy statement on Scientology". Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved August 13, 2006.
  49. ^ "Baden-Wuerttemberg Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Scientology".
  50. ^ "Human Rights Photo Discrimination". Retrieved 2021-02-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  51. ^ "Churches of Scientology for Europe - All Are Welcome!". Churches of Scientology for Europe. Retrieved 2021-02-19.

External links[edit]