Archive for the ‘Human rights’ Category

Overzealous Bern Police come to aid Saudi Tyranny Regime

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Bern. On Frieday, 12h June 2015 six individuals placed themselves in front of the Saudi Embassy in Bern and held up a banner with the following message:


The protest was purposely carried out as a silent vigil, as it targeted the ambassador and his staff, not the local residents, and was a reaction to last week’s decision by the Saudi High Court against Raif Badawi. The flogging of the Saudi human rights activist is now likely to continue, and he was expected to receive the second round of lashes on Friday.

After less than 15 minutes four members of the Embassy protection unit of the Bernese Police appeared with two vehicles, demanded the “illegal demonstration” to end, registered the six protesters and confiscated the banner – a wholly disproportionate intervention.

The Swiss Freethinkers, who organised the vigil, are disappointed that the assumed desideratum of the Saudi ambassador, not to be incommodated by unpopular expressions of opinion was given more weight than the right of free speech of members of the public. The Freethinkers will examine the lawfulness of the acts of the Embassy protection unit, particularly the confiscation of property, not least because in Bern the right of freedom of expression, including the right to demonstrate had been violated in an unconstitutional manner repeatedly in the past. (See reports in German by and Berner Zeitung).

Saudi Arabia: Release Raif Badawi!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

The Swiss Freethinkers have learned with indignation of the increased criminal sanctions imposed against the Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi: ten years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine of 1 million rials, for “insulting Islam.”

Saudi Arabia is a key part of the Western system of alliances in the region. Its allies do not burden themselves with the task of questioning this theocracy and its medieval practices.

In fact, the pronounced decree threatens all shades of freedom of expression since it considers as “terrorists” not only atheists, but also all those who dare to question the fundamentals of Islam as they form the basis of the Wahhabi monarchy.

FAS has contacted the President of the Confederation and the Swiss diplomacy and has urged them to interfere for freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia in general and for freedom for Raif Badawi.

Read also:

WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: First Ever Report on The Rights and Treatment of Atheists and the Non-religious in Every Country in the World

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

A new report launching today, Tuesday, examines every country in the world for legal discrimination and human rights violations which specifically affect atheists, humanists and the non-religious.

  • Atheists can face death sentences for apostasy in twelve state
  • In 39 countries the law mandates a prison sentence for blasphemy, including six western countries
  • The non-religious are discriminated against, or outright persecuted, in most countries of the world

The “Freedom of Thought” report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, IHEU, found widespread discrimination by governments in every region. (An inaugural edition in 2012 contained 60 countries; the 2013 edition has been expanded to cover every country.)

Full report:

Blasphemy prosecutions rise with social media

Monday, December 10th, 2012

New report highlights persecution of atheists

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has produced the first report focusing on how countries around the world discriminate against non-religious people. Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Non-religious has been published to mark Human Rights Day, Monday 10 December.

Freedom of Thought 2012 covers laws affecting freedom of conscience in 60 countries and lists numerous individual cases where atheists have been prosecuted for their beliefs in 2012. It reports on laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry, obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.

The report highlights a sharp increase in arrests for “blasphemy” on social media this year. The previous three years saw just three such cases, but in 2012 more than a dozen people in ten countries have been prosecuted for “blasphemy” on Facebook or Twitter, including:

  • In Indonesia, Alexander Aan was jailed for two-and-a-half years for Facebook posts on atheism.
  • In Tunisia, two young atheists, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji, were sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for Facebook postings that were judged blasphemous.
  • In Turkey, pianist and atheist Fazil Say faces jail for “blasphemous” tweets.
  • In Greece, Phillipos Loizos created a Facebook page that poked fun at Greeks’ belief in miracles and is now charged with insulting religion.
  • In Egypt, 17-year-old Gamal Abdou Massoud was sentenced to three years in jail, and Bishoy Kamel was imprisoned for six years, both for posting “blasphemous” cartoons on Facebook.
  •  The founder of Egypt’s Facebook Atheists, Alber Saber, faces jail time (he will be sentenced on 12 December).

“When 21st century technology collides with medieval blasphemy laws, it seems to be atheists who are getting hurt, as more of them go to prison for sharing their personal beliefs via social media,”

said Matt Cherry, the report’s editor. “Across the world the reactionary impulse to punish new ideas, or in some cases the merest expression of disbelief, recurs again and again. We even have a case in Tunisia of a journalist arrested for daring to criticize a proposed blasphemy law!”

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, welcomed the research. In a foreword to the report Bielefeldt notes that there is often “little awareness” that international human rights treaties mean freedom of conscience applies equally to “atheists, humanists and freethinkers and their convictions, practices and organizations. I am therefore delighted that for the first time the Humanist community has produced a global report on discrimination against atheists. I hope it will be given careful consideration by everyone concerned with freedom of religion or belief.”

Freedom of Thought 2012 report is available from: Freedom of Thought 2012.pdf

Freethinkers Association of Switzerland is a member of IHEU since 1984. In cooperation they have helped to free Dr. Younus Shaikh 2004 from death penalty for blasphemy in Pakistan and atheist blogger Kaczem Ghazali 2011 from Marocco.

Malta – Curia refuses to delete details of ex-Catholics

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The Curia has refused a request to delete details of 23 people from its baptisimal and other records, NION – Not In Our Name, the organisation founded to help baptized ex-Catholics dissociate themselves from the Church – said.

NION, which made its request to the Curia after these individuals legally empowered it to undertake this task on their behalf, said it will be informing the Data Protection Commissioner about the situation.


ECHR: Freedom of belief includes freedom not to reveal belief

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Panayote Dimitras (founder of the Humanist Union of Greece) and some of his colleagues in the Greek Helsinki Monitor (affiliated to the International Helsinki Federation) have won a case (against Greece at the European Court of Human Rights.

In their work under the Helsinki process, they frequently have to make depositions or give evidence in court.  Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion or belief, Greek law requires that as a default they have to take an oath according to the Greek Orthodox faith or else to justify their wish to take a different oath or to affirm by revealing their adherence to another belief or their lack of belief.

The Strasbourg Court has again in this case underlined that freedom of religion or belief includes “the right of the individual not to be obliged to manifest his religion or his religious beliefs and not be obliged to act in such a way that such convictions or their lack can be deduced. In the eyes of the Court, state authorities have no right to intervene in the field of freedom of conscience of the individual and to seek his religious beliefs, or to force him to express his beliefs about the divinity” (judgement, para. 28).

Source: EHF; ECHR

10 December: Human Rights in Human Hands

Friday, December 9th, 2011

For more than 60 years on this day we have remembered the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 1948 by the United Nations. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It was not declared in the name of an imaginary being, but it the name of this assembly of humans.
The Universal Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948 by a vote of 48 in favour, and 8 abstentions, namely the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, People’s Republic of Poland, Union of South Africa and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Catholics and Reformed churches recently startet to claim human rights as their achievements. Both are relativating it by referring to the priority of christian concepts.

Eleanor Roosevelt played a key role in the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1932, the midst of the Great Depression she said in a talk (What Religion Means to Me):

“To me religion has nothing to do with any specific creed or dogma. It means that belief and that faith in the heart of a man which makes him try to live his life according to the highest standard which he is able to visualize… The thing which counts is the striving of the human soul to achieve spiritually the best that it is capable of and to care unselfishly not only for personal good but for the good of all those who toil with them upon the earth.”

Ten years later she wrote: “The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life.” (“My Day,” 16 September 1943)

Eleonor Roosevelt – although a christian herself – did not refer to the christian concept of  the “human being as an image of God” but trusted in the strength and self confidence of humans: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”