Posts Tagged ‘religious freedom’

More than 400 Global Shapers Meet in Geneva to Spark Global Change – why not start with Saba Kord Afshari?

August 30, 2019

The World Economic Forum announced that from 30 August to 1 September 2019 more than 400 members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community of innovators, activists and entrepreneurs under the age of 30 meet in Geneva to Spark Global Change. The theme of the summit is Leading for Impact. The Shapers, representing about 150 countries, will share their experiences, their impact and the lessons learned in managing grassroots projects in their local Global Shaper Hubs and through regional and global collaborations. They will also participate in skills-building and leadership-development workshops.

The summit will focus on enhancing leadership in the community’s three main impact areas: standing up for equity and inclusion, protecting the planet, and shaping the future of education and employment.

In the past year, Shapers in 125 cities have developed grassroots projects to promote equity and inclusion, including awareness campaigns, education initiatives and skill-building efforts to reduce barriers to women in the workplace, increase civic engagement among minority groups and advocate for the rights of refugees.

Perhaps a good case would be that of Saba Kord Afshari who for the simple act of removing her hijab and taking a video was made a “criminal” in Iran. #SabaKordafshari was sentenced to 24 years prison for #WalkingUnveiled and being voice of the voiceless. Activists call on the world, all politicians, all celebrities, MeToo movement – and why not the Shapers of the WEF ? – to take action.

Human Rights Day 2018 – anthology part III (the last)

December 18, 2018

Mopping up after International Human Rights Day 2018 here six more ‘events’:

For part I, see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/10/human-rights-day-2018-just-an-anthology/

For part II, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/11/human-rights-day-2018-anthology-part-ii/.

 

  1. Tibetans in Sydney celebrate Nobel Peace Prize Day and Int’l Human Rights Day.
    Tibetans in in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, observe an official function to mark the 29th anniversary of the conferment of Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on December 15, 2018. Photo: TPI/Yeshe Choesang

Tibetans in Sydney celebrate Nobel Peace Prize Day and Int’l Human Rights Day

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/12/16/best-human-rights-books-october-december-2018/

https://www.adventistreview.org/for-people-of-faith-70-year-old-human-rights-document-holds-special-meaning

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/lord-ahmad-speech-at-amnesty-international-annual-human-rights-day-reception

https://blogs.library.duke.edu/blog/2018/12/12/duke-announces-winner-of-2018-juan-e-mendez-human-rights-book-award/

https://menafn.com/1097819272/Somaliland-HRC-Commemorates-Human-Rights-Day-2018-In-Burao

Freedom from religion: Vatican legally and morally wrong

March 29, 2018

In response IHEU’s Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, corrected the Holy See listing the established rights which constitute freedom from religion, and highlighted why freedom from religion is so necessary for those professing no religious beliefs around the world: “freedom from coercion to adopt a religion is protected by law; freedom to have no religion is protected by law; freedom to leave a religion is protected by law; and freedom to criticise a religion is protected by law.”

She also noted that in his own comments to the Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion of Belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, also corrected the Holy See. Shaheed stated categorically that freedom from religion is protected by the right to freedom of religion or belief. Dr Shaheed mentioned specifically how humanist, atheist and secular bloggers are under attack, and that the right to freedom of religion or belief protects the individual, not the religion or belief itself.

In her statement, O’Casey went on to highlight just why statements such as those made by the Holy See are so objectionable and dangerous; especially in the context of state-based hate and a culture of impunity allowing for violence against those who have no religious beliefs. O’casey reminded the Council that 85 countries severely discriminate against non-religious individuals whilst seven countries were found to actively persecute the non-religious during last year. She also reminded the Council of the situation of those jailed in states such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran for being atheist or humanist, and the brutal murder of so many secularists and rationalists with impunity in Bangladesh, India and the Maldives. O’Casey also mentioned Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia and Cyprus in their promoting state hatred against atheists and humanists.

In the light of this situation, O’Casey asked how many more humanists, atheists and secularists need to be killed, imprisoned, persecuted and disproportionately targeted for the international community to begin to understand the absolute importance of freedom of religion or belief for those with no religion? She concluded, “so long as the rest of the international community stay silent, the rights of the invisible minority of non-believers across the world will continue to be trampled upon, including by members of this Council.” The full text of O’Casey’s statement can be seen through the link below.

In this context it was interesting to see that in the UK a Burnley vicar, who has campaigned to expose sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Church of England, has been named Secularist of the Year! The Rev Graham Sawyer, who is the vicar of St James’ Church, was one of two joint winners presented with a £5,000 prize at a lunch hosted by the National Secular Society. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who won the award in 2012, presented the prize at the event in central London.

Conflicting views on proposed secular charter in Canada

February 8, 2014

Although not directly related to human rights defenders, I thought this article interesting because two top judges taken such openly opposing views. Also interesting to note – at least in this short piece – is the absence of references to international case law on the same topic e.g. by the European Court on Human Rights, which has pronounced itself on Turkey and France:

“Two former Supreme Court of Canada justices delivered conflicting views on Friday on whether Quebec’s proposed secular charter would hold up in court. Louise Arbour, a member of Canada’s highest court from 1999 to 2004, wrote in a letter to Montreal La Presse she firmly believes the Parti Quebecois government’s proposed charter violates the right to freedom of religion. Arbour, who also served as the UN high commissioner for human rights, wrote that the prohibition of wearing so-called conspicuous religious symbols will mainly target Muslim women who wear a head scarf. “It is particularly odious to make women, who are already marginalized, pay the price,” Arbour wrote. “Women, for whom access to employment is a key factor for their autonomy and integration. “Meanwhile in Quebec City, Claire LHeureux-Dube offered her unconditional support for the proposed charter during hearings at the legislature. The former justice said the charter should withstand any court challenge. And if necessary, the government could use the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, she added. LHeureux-Dube, a Supreme Court justice between 1987 and 2002, said she sees no discrimination in the most controversial aspect of the proposed charter — a ban on state employees from wearing conspicuous religious symbols. The proposed legislation would ban public-sector employees, including teachers and daycare workers, from displaying or wearing religious symbols at work. It would also forbid public employees from wearing other visible religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and bigger-than-average crucifixes. LHeureux Dube said the wearing of religious symbols is not a fundamental right. And, she adds, no right is absolute.  Religious symbols “are part of the display of religious beliefs and not the practice of a religion,” LHeureux-Dube said. She finds it perfectly reasonable for the state to impose restrictions on its employees, comparing it to the state’s restriction on political expression. LHeureux-Dube also took the opportunity to lash out at Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, accusing him of breaking from what she described as his past position as a defender of secularism and women’s rights. She expressed dismay the party had drifted away from its roots. She noted the Liberals frequently battled with the Roman Catholic Church, notably during the right to vote for women in 1940. “I wonder how one can deny that great tradition of secularism,” she said….” 

via mysask.com – News.

IN THE MIND OF SILAS; GREEK COMEDIAN LAMPOONS BLASPHEMY ON YouTube

October 12, 2012

On Monday, September 24, 2012 (yes 2012!) a Greek man was arrested for making a Facebook page that lampooned the Eastern Orthodox monk Elder Paisios, a religious figure to whom some have arbitrarily attributed saintly properties.  The authorities charged the man with “malicious blasphemy,” because he had named his page “Elder Pastitsios” a reference to the popular Greek pasta dish, and the page parodied the monk and his work in the vein of Pastafarianism, a lighthearted, satirical movement that promotes irreligion.
My good friend the Greek comedian Silas has the nerve and creativity to give his views on where freedom of expression, opinion and satire stand in Greece today (subtitled in English). How a stand-up comedian can be a HRD (even if – better exactly because – you may not agree with him)

ΣΤΟ ΜΥΑΛΟ ΤΟΥ ΣΙΛΑ – 181 – Tα όρια της θρησκείας – YouTube.

Intolerance a threat to Sindh

September 4, 2012

Yesterday the newspaper Pakistani DAWN contained a short piece by GULSHER PANHWER on the increase in religious intolerance and risks to ‘dissidents’ in Sindh. He says that there is an urgent need to train and educate the youth on tolerance and bring the old trained cadre of human rights activists and the new generation of human rights defenders on one platform. This would be a great barrier against the threat of violence which is a direct result of intolerance.

via Intolerance a threat to Sindh | DAWN.COM.

Refugee in Sweden shot by unknown assailant – Uzbek regime involvement suspected

February 29, 2012

Based on information received today from Mutabar Tadjibayeva, the MEA Laureate of 2008, I share with you the following:
On 22-February, at 13h40 p.m, a well-known religious figure, a former imam from Uzbekistan Obidhon Nazarov was shot in the town of Stromsund, Sweden, where he was settled as a refugee. An unknown person shot him in the head at the entrance of his house when he was going out. The assailant escaped. At the moment, the Swedish police are investigating the crime. The condition of imam Nazaarov remains very critical.
The international human rights organization “Club Des Coeurs Ardents” (“Club Flaming Hearts”) founded by Mutabar and the Centre for political studies “LIGLIS-CENTER” understandably express their suspicion that the Uzbek regime of Karimov has orchestrated the attack.
The message adds the following background: in the period 1990-1996 Obidhon Nazarov was an imam for the capital city mosque “Tuhtaboy”. In 1996 he was unlawfully dismissed from this post and his house near the mosque was taken by the authorities. In 1998, he was forced to flee to Kazakhstan where he was placed under the protection of UNHCR. On 24-May 2004 the eldest son of the imam, Husniddin Nazarov, was kidnapped. Shortly before, Husniddin Nazarov had been questioned by the militia of the city Tashkent. Until today nothing has been heard about or from him.
In the spring of 2006 imam Nazarov was resettled from Kazakhstan to Sweden by UNHCR. But even in Sweden he felt repeatedly forced to change his residence. During 2011, authorities of Uzbekistan requested his extradition but Sweden did not comply and informed the imam himself and uzbek civil society in Sweden about the request.
The authorities of Uzbekistan kept up a constant campaign to discredit the name of O. Nazarov. E.g. in the first half of 2010 a series of video films was shown called “Hunrezlik” (“Bloodshed”), in which the imam is accused of all kind of unlikely crimes. Many of his followers were arrested by the Uzbekistan authorities on trumped-up charges and given long periods of detention.
The imam is considered a protector of the religious freedom in Uzbekistan by his supporters. In 2009 he openly greeted the initiative of US President Obama for the improvement of the USA’s relations with the Muslim world and in 2011, in his sermons, he supported the revolutions in the Arab world as “natural and correct”. However, he condemned the violence, both by the state and by religiously motivated terrorists.
The two organisations end their message with a call for rigorous investigation by the Swedish police and – in view of the catastrophic human rights situation in Uzbekistan – a clear position by the international community.