Australian Press Council
ADJUDICATION NO. 942 (September 1997)
The Australian Press Council has dismissed complaints by the Sukyo Mahikari
organisation relating to a series of articles about it in the Canberra Times
between March and May 1997.
After the first two articles were published the newspaper published a
substantial balancing article by Dr Andris Tebecis, the Australian Regional
Director of Sukyo Mahikari based in Canberra.
That publication, adequately and with commendable speed and prominence,
fulfilled the Press Council's requirements for balance and fairness.
On 8 March and on 11 May, the Canberra Times printed two more news reports
about the organisation. The first reported that the Australian Federal Police
were investigating complaints by former members of the sect that it posed a
security risk. The second referred to a report of a Belgian commission which
had been investigating it.
The Press Council believes the newspaper was entitled to print the news reports
and has no reasons to believe that the reports were not accurate.
Australian Press Council
ADJUDICATION No. 943 (September 1997)
The Press Council has dismissed a complaint lodged by Dr A.K. Tebecis on behalf
of Sukyo Mahikari, of which he is the Regional Director, against the Woman's
Day. The complaint pertained to an article entitled "Our secret life in evil
Japanese cult" published in the 19 May 1997 edition of the magazine.
It was claimed that the article contained "defamatory statements,
unsubstantiated reporting and other aspects of irresponsible journalism". The
focus of the article was the experience recounted by Garry and Wendy Greenwood
of their 17 years' membership with Sukyo Mahikari, a Japanese-based
Dr Tebecis complained about the portrayal of the organisation as an "evil
Japanese cult" and the following specific statements attributed to the
Greenwoods: that birth control and the use of painkillers were forbidden by the
Mahikari organisation; that the organisation is "a cover for a right-wing
political movement"; that "only Mahikari people can be saved"; that "Once you
are in, it is so hard to get out". Dr Tebecis in complaining directly to the
editor of Woman's Day requested agreement by the editor to publish a follow-up
which would be concerned "this time about Mahikari people who are practising
the method of the Light of God and the teachings ..."
The primary source of the article was Garry Greenwood who, by Dr Tebecis' own
acknowledgment, had for nearly 10 years out of a period of 17 years' membership
been the second highest ranked official in the organisation. It was asserted
by Dr Tebecis that the Greenwoods were "disaffected members" who had "an axe to
grind". No evidence was proffered to substantiate these assertions.
Furthermore, Dr Tebecis originally claimed that Woman's Day did not contact him
over the article but subsequently recalled being contacted by a journalist from
Woman's Day. Some of the statements made in the article were corroborated by a
book written by Dr Tebecis.
In the light of the fact that Woman's Day has indicated that it is prepared to
publish a letter of 200 words from Dr Tebecis, the Press Council believes this
is a satisfactory way of resolving the matter.