The fence that you see above is located at Scientology's "Gold" Base, not too far from the city of Hemet, California in the U.S. As you can see, the stainless steel razor spikes point both ways, not only to keep people out, but to keep those on the inside from escaping. Did I mention this is a "church"? Can it possibly be that the "church" of Scientology has it's own concentration camp? Read on.
Possibly the worst policies L. Ron Hubbard ever came up with were the policies that constitute the Rehabilitation Project Force (R.P.F. for short). Scientology upper management will tell you that is is a voluntary work/study/religious retreat to help rehabilitate Sea Organization members and get them back up to where they can be productive members of the group. It is actually a prison camp to punish those Sea Organization members that have angered management in some way or another. Some are thrown into this work/punishment detail just because they wish to leave the Sea Org or Scientology.
Once in, members are in and punished until they are back in the good graces of the management. This has been known to last up to 6 years and more. Members of the R.P.F. are not allowed to communicate with anyone outside of the R.P.F. They are not allowed to eat at the same times as other staff. They are only allowed to sleep in separate quarters, usually filthy places with only one bathroom for all members. They are not allowed to communicate to their friends or family by phone or letter unless it would cause a flap (bad p.r.). If they are permitted to call, their calls are monitored by a security person to make sure they don't say where they are or how they really are doing. Letters out must be read by security personnel before they are posted. If an member is having a hard time making it in the R.P.F., no problem. There is always the R.P.F.'s R.P.F. The only reason for that organization is to totally break the member to make them pliable and willing to follow any command. Sleep deprivation, filthy food and quarters, not being allowed any personal time, hard work, no socialization are all part of this "program".
I have heard many horror stories of friends that have been in. Here are just a few quotes:
From Tonja Burden - "... In the RPF you were labeled 'treasonous' and forced to work 18 hours a day.7 days a week and oftentimes received only 'rice and beans' and water. During this time I personally observed a person chained to pipes in the boiler room in the Fort Harrison building for a period of weeks. In the RPF I saw people screaming and crying during the constant auditing on the E-meter. RPF prisoners were forced to undergo auditing in order to audit out their evil purposes against Hubbard and Scientology. I cried virtually the whole time I was in the RPF."
From Hana Whitfield - "Certain infractions caused the person responsible to be assigned to the RPF's RPF, a place in the lower boiler room under the Fort Harrison Hotel, among the boilers and hot waters pipes which rambled and hissed 24 hours a day. The place was only dimly lit. It consisted of interconnecting-spaces through which one had to crawl on hands and knees at times past or underneath huge pipes and massive 10 foot high boilers. It had a dark, forbidding, somewhat scary place. One of my buddies was assigned to the RPF's RPF for two months for refusing to divulge confidential information for which she had been bonded in the Guardian's Office. She was kept in that space ex-communicado for the entire time, with limited bathing and toilet privileges, all the time being threatened and verbally harassed by RPF superiors. She finally emerged a broken, silent, sullen person who soon after managed to escape from the RPF and the Fort Harrison Hotel. Her name was Lynn Froyland."
From our good friend Suzi Nefertiti a.k.a. Mary Abadi - an average day in the RPF - "Basically, it consists in getting up early before everybody and going to bed very late after everybody else. Fatigue is omnipresent. Just 7 hours sleep is not enough to compensate for a forced labor work in a hell cadence. The person's resistance, even in good health conditions begins to decay. At this rate, after a week of forced pace — I would not wish to my worst enemies (except Miscavige and other bastards) — I felt my strengths lowering. Cramps becoming more and more frequent were all the more painful since I had to continue running no matter what. Aching all over, sweat had also become a fearful enemy. Florida's hot and humid climate with the accelerated rhythm of constant effort provoked an important sweating which was responsible for an accumulation of bacteria. The thing was to protect ourselves from potential wounds at all cost. No preventive measures was ever taken and of course, no medicine, not even antiseptics or antibiotics were allowed in case of injury or illness.
Actions stations would occur by 7AM. All I had was 5 minutes to be ready; get dressed with a dirty black trousers, a dirty black tee-shirt, and remember the black ribbon around the left arm. Well well! like Jews with a star sewn on their torn coat during the second World War of evil memory... or like the red letter sewn on the heroin's dress of a famous novel; The Scarlet Letter from Nathaniel Hawthorne. Standing for adulterous, the letter A stigmatized the woman's "sin" heavily reproved and socially condemned by puritan moral prevailing in 17 Century Boston. Hester Prynne is sentenced for adultery to be put in the stocks. She is to forever wear the symbol of her sin, the big red letter A sewn on the bodice of her dress.
In the RPF, the dark ribbon is the representation of discrimination; the illegal and arbitrary segregation of the person. The person is plainly ostracized. It is the same thing really except that we no longer live in 17th Century. Of course the RPF is contrary to the Rights of Man, violates every Constitution and must be forbidden by the Governments would they only bother to assume their responsibilities and make proper legislation so that no intern prison belonging to any group or "religion" call it a labor camp, gulag or RPF be tolerated on their soils. I guess that the will of politics would be awakened when a politician's daughter or son were to be be ensnared by a cult and be interned in one of those camps or worse, were to commit suicide.
The RPF illegal forced labor camp is all the more intolerable since this humiliation is presented as an expiation for adept's so-called "crimes" and which is forced to accept his need for Redemption. On top of that imagined by a perverted madman, sadistic and paranoid schizophrenic guru.
But let's come back to the story.
As a precautionary measure, I always wore a clean tee-shirt underneath the black and dirty one. Fortunately, I had a dozen tee-shirts in my suitcase. Every night after the 30 seconds shower I coated my body with talc in order to protect my skin against sweat. We all suffered from heavy sweating. I recall this young woman terribly suffering from an important infection which had been developing under her breasts. Instead of healing, the wound had been expanding to such a degree that purulent blisters had reached her navel. When I saw that infection I told her: "Here, have some talc, take mine." She looked at me puzzled.
— "I think you should wear a cotton tee-shirt under your bra in order to isolate your breasts. That may help to stop the infection." I added.
She answered that she didn't have any so I spontaneously gave her 2 tee-shirts of mine.
— "You can wash your tee-shirt every night so you will always have a clean and dry tee-shirt for the day after."
She had a sort of trembling.
— "Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?" she asked.
With the passing of time, I realize how pathetic was this woman's reaction. How was it possible that someone should help her? She had lost the notion of solidarity! (something very present in regular prisons or prison camps.)
To me it was just a matter of assisting someone in danger; her infection had definitely become too large to ignore it. Unlike others, I felt compassion. In the RPF, it's every man for himself.
Among the 8 girls living in the same room I was the only one to offer some help. But each girl was having her share of suffering, each girl was trying to survive the best she could and then I had just arrived to the RPF, therefore I was not weakening yet. I could still afford to help someone...
We used to take a bus taking us to the Fort Harrison. That bus was infested with cockroaches. First, I refused to sit down since the bus was crawling with cockroaches which did not mind to step on us but then with fatigue overpowering me, I relinquished to sit down. Every moment of rest had become a priority so we all just merely move our hands or feet once in a while to dismiss bigger ones...
At the RPF "mess" (room in which meals are eaten in the Armed Forced), it was a matter of feeding ourselves the best we could. Cereals in the form of unappetizing porridges were proposed. To hold out and despite my disgust in eating solid food in the morning, I reluctantly swallowed every kind of soups or pigswills, as long as they had milk in it. The RPFer in charge of bringing the food was warmly welcomed by everybody since he had managed to find a milk gallon; I watched as he was being applauded and sadly deduced that milk was not an obvious foodstuff in the RPF.
"Muster" or "roll-call" would then take place. The shabby-looking gulag battalion pastiched military muster for review or inspection. Everyone is supposed to answer his name by "Hi Sir". Any delay, be it one second, is heavily sanctioned. The sorry spectacle of four RPF tottering columns was a wretched sight; twenty people struggling to stand to attention looked far more as an East German extermination camp than a glorious glittering "corps d'elite" Sea Org members. I could not help thinking that it was impossible avoiding to relate the cortege of mere shadows that we had become with the flashy group in full uniform pictured in the cult propaganda magazine and supposed to lead mankind on "the road of total freedom." Ironically, we were imprisoned and carrying the same chains we had all come to set man free from. Quite obviously, there was an horrendous booby trap I could not figure out.
The first standing order of the day was to clean the Fort Harrison stairs (approximately 15 floors) I was given a bucket, a floor cloth and a twin, in this case a very young lady barely18 years old.
As we started to clean the steps one by one on our knees, she asked me the reason of my RPF assignment. I answered in a relaxed off-hand manner that since I wanted to leave the best way out, I had come up with was to violate the SO ethical code, that is to say never have sexual relationship outside marriage.
— "I went out 2D" (esoteric language for having sexual intercourse.) "And you know what?" I added, "we didn't even have time 'to materialize' because they caught us just before we did!"
She burst out laughing and she told me her story. Roughly, her situation was the following; she didn't agree with some decisions from up lines management, she stood fast and didn't allow herself to be swayed (thus sent to the RPF).
Being born in the cult, having known but the cult, perspectives projected by her towards the exterior world were extremely reduced.
— "I have no diploma, I could never work in the 'wog world'" (racist term to signify everything that do not belong to the cult.)
— "Do you have any family outside?" I ventured.
— "Yes, my mother is in England. I don't know her and she is 'declared'" (a person declared is a person arbitrarily declared a "suppressive being" by the cult: i.e. ostracized.) "I don't have the right to see her. Besides, could I adapt myself in a country I do not know with a mother whose face I don't even recall? If I failed to get in tune everything would be over for me. I have no choice; I must endure."
This lucid, clear-minded 18 years old young lady, with her long blond hair saying that she had no future outside the cult was deeply moving. Suddenly, I realized the horror of isolation to which every youngsters born and raised in the cult are abandoned to. They can't escape, and how could they? They are prisoners inside of the life they will never get to know outside...
She glanced a fearful look at me: was I going to betray a confidence she shouldn't have ever made? I reassured her with a smile.
— "Don't worry. I won't say anything. Well, the outside world is not that terrible you know, after all, I've come from out there!"
I'll never forget her sad and resigned look. She said dreamy:
— "Yes, maybe, who knows?"
In fact, she was an Exec from CMO INT (high executive from the International Commodore Messengers Org, very senior org in the cult.) She was to stand up for me once when one of the RPF warder took it out on me with no apparent reason. She literally jumped on the bigot:
— "If you don't leave her alone immediately I swear I'll remember you when I get out of here and you know that I'll get out before you do!" (RPF warders are on RPF program too.)
Anyway, the guy was nailed to the spot; not only did he forget all about me but everyone kept a respectable distance ever since. It is true that in the cult complex hierarchy CMO INT execs have almost every power. Thinking it over, I think I gave her a little hope; it wasn't that bad outside...
The day would continue with the cleaning and scouring of every toilet of Fort Harrison building reserved to the "public" (scientologists coming from all around the world for "services") We actually "liked" to do it since it was deliciously air-conditioned inside and frankly, compared to other RPF hardship, sponging up sinks had almost become our idea of having fun! I only feared that someone should recognize me in such a slave get-up, with a hand brush, bent over a bowl-shaped part of a toilet.
A misfortune buddy almost fainted when cleaning a mirror; she stopped dead staring at her own image with horror. Well, the poor girl didn't already look well but now she had just turned green. We were all looking dreadful, dirty, shaggy-haired and were quite in a bad shape. The thing was to carefully avoid meeting our face. She started to cry. She just could not afford to breakdown. She was putting herself at risk by sobbing in front of scientologists. It was awfully "bad PR" (bad public relation). Suddenly one of us said with her nasal Oklahoma twang:
— "Well, what should I say? Look at me! I look like Frankenstein whereas you only look as if you had seen him!"
Everybody laughed and the poor girl somehow pulled herself together. She then cautiously kept avoiding every mirror reflection. There was a sort of solidarity but very rare and punctual. Relationships were mostly lived in terms of power struggle. Orders were constantly shouted, we were hustled from morning to evening, no slowing down even in the sun, sanctions would shower on us:
— "Take a lap! Take two laps! Take five laps!" ( a lap consists in running around the Fort Harrison garage ramp.)
The mirror young lady had a hard time to follow the pace. She would stumble over, fall, get herself hurt, and would always be behind the pack (late) and I would tremble for her. RPFer's bosun (warder) was pretending not to see her. So I thought that she would be spared as she was obviously of a frail nature. In fact, it's highly probable that her fall was programmed. I witnessed an odd conversation looking like bets in racecourses:
— "That one, I give her 2 weeks!"
— "I don't give her another week myself!"
Well I will never know what happens when the person can't take any longer (maybe she's assigned to the RPF's RPF) for I chucked out before it ever became my turn. I don't even dare to think about it... There were the dangerous tasks to perform. The garbage detail was particularly strenuous for the fair sex. Men would challenge us making fun of our poor efforts to get up enormous and filthy garbage cans. Some girls would exhaust themselves out in vain; I would just save my strengths protecting the best than I could my fingers, my feet, my body in general. An accident might happen and no treatment would be granted, furthermore there is no hospital in the RPF; there is not even an emergency kit.
There was a definite lack of everything; salary already reduced to the third part was suspended for the vast majority of the RPFers. So everybody would soon become indigent. Suddenly, you can no longer buy cigarettes (only unrestricted items allowed), your toothpaste, soap or deodorant... Would you allow me to stress that women still having their periods, find it extremely degrading not having enough cash to buy a box of tampax (some women suffer from cycle troubles due to stress and fatigue; same symptoms occurred in concentration camps.) At least, this is what I could experiment for myself and I was utterly happy to have some tampaxes in my car gloves locker. How humiliating it is to find oneself in complete poverty when one has given away a fortune for the cause and is subsequently working as a beast of burden! What a despair it is to notice one is reduced to slavery whereas one had come in pushed by the winds of freedom in order to align in the ranks of those working so that man would be set free!
The end of the day would be a piece of anthology. As I said, there was the special gulag training (5 hours training = 5 hours indoctrination) Such a training was mandatory of course and consisted in a cortege of forced confessions of imagined crimes and treacheries of every kind (mental torture called O/Ws). By any means, I knew that before I got there I had to restudy the same HCOBS & PLs (guru's nonsense) I already knew by heart. Well then, I shall continue to act stupid; I would spend hours on a 10 pages long bulletin called "Keeping Scientology Working" and pretended to be busy by turning the dictionary pages which would allow me to remain seated most of the time. You see in the RPF and other gulags, luxury is motionlessness. The thing is just to remain in complete stillness. Moreover, RPF's indoctrination is delayed but, who wants to think about it? Anyway, two RPFers had noticed my little game and as they were up to the same one themselves we would once in a while glance at each other in beaming mirth! That's what being called "mutual out ruds" (esoteric expression meaning a negative conniving attitude, being a party of something or someone.)
At the end of the day, coinciding with the end of special gulag indoctrination, we were supposed to — well at least it was highly encouraged — take the floor to say how pleased we all were and how wonderful and fabulous it was to follow a convict's program without forgetting to stress we were all thankful to hope that one day Redemption would occur thanks to the marvellous technology of the best friend Earth had ever bore! I always refused to participate to this farce where we had on top of that to applaud everyone's fantastic gains! I would simply put a mongoloid grin on my face which actually fitted very well on submission grounds and approval of every nonsense that could be heard. As long as I seemed to agree to the whole masquerade and as long as I looked vaguely stupid, I knew I would be allowed to vogue over relatively peaceful waters. Anyhow, I was delighted I had done some theatre acting when I wondered; under the false aspect of a tranquil lake, furious roaring fortieth currents and other howling fiftieth wind streams were preparing devastating tidal waves..." You can read her full testimony as well as others here.
Before you go, I would like for you to hear in her own voice how this has effected her even after being out of Scientology for years. The psychological pain that many of us have been is why we protest so hard.