Thursday, 31 May 2012

Protection of Atheists in Human Rights Instruments

The below is taken from:

Should atheists be explicitly protected in human rights instruments?
May 31, 2012 by Rosalind English

Writing on the Richard Dawkins website, humanist campaigner Leo Igwe-Ieet declares that there is a gaping hole in the protections listed in international rights instruments.

I have heard it proclaimed at the UN that the rights of women are human rights. I have also heard it proclaimed that the rights of gay people are human rights. These proclamations changed the way human rights are perceived around the globe. Personally I have yet to hear it proclaimed at UN, or at our regional and national human rights bodies that the rights of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are human rights. I do not want these rights to be implied or assumed as currently the case in most countries. I want them to be expressly declared as universal human rights.

The reason why such explicit protection is urgently needed, the writer claims, is because non-believers are particularly vulnerable in some parts of the world, notably Africa. In parts of Africa where fundamentalist belief holds sway, “religious non-believers are treated as if they are not human beings, as if they do not exist or do not have the right to exist.” The right to freedom of religion is of no avail to those who wish to eschew faith altogether. On the contrary, freedom of religion is often understood as freedom to profess a religion-the religion sanctioned by the state, by one’s family or community- not freedom to change one’s religion or freedom not to profess any religion at all as contained in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Leo Igwe is well qualified to take a position on this issue. He was the Western and Southern African representative to IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, working to end a variety of human rights violations that are rampant in Africa, including homophobia, witchcraft, “child witch” superstition, ritual killing, human sacrifice, “untouchability”, and anti-blasphemy laws. He points out in another post that witchcraft is the very manifestation of lethal superstition that Christianity has fostered in some parts of Africa, reminding us of the tragic death in the UK of 15 year old Congolese boy Kristy Bamu, tortured to death by family members who believed he was a ‘witch’ and that he should be suffered not to live as stated in the Christian holy book.

What Kristy Bamu went through in the UK is what many children, women and elderly persons across Africa are suffering at this moment.

Whilst such an extension to the European Convention, or the various Bills of Rights sections of national constitutions across Europe, may seem an unnecessary luxury, there is certainly a case for fortifying the protection of such people via the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the South African Bill of Rights and possibly even the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Would it make much of a difference? Probably not, but it would certainly lend legal clout to anti-witchcraft campaigns, and give defendants in anti-blasphemy prosecutions something with which to shield themselves.

It is not such a far-fetched question and certainly worth pondering, even in the “enlightened” West, where fundamentalism threatens to encroach on many freedoms.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bloggers Unite for Basic Human Rights

See below for:

Thanks to you, May marks the first anniversary of Bloggers Unite and this time we're launching an awareness campaign chosen by BlogCatalog members. On May 15, let's unite for human rights and make a statement that all people are born with basic rights and freedoms - life, liberty, and justice!

On May 15th 2008, let's come together and all blog about Human Rights. There are dozens and dozens of human rights issues that you can write about. The one you choose is up to you.

The wrongful imprisonment of journalists covering assemblies.
Governments that ignore the plight of citizens left tot he mercy of gangs.
The censorship of the Internet in order to prevent freedom of expression.
Harsh punishments that include torture, forced labor, and starvation.
Sexual assault against women by members of military or militia.


There are many organizations that promote human rights and work to protect people. We've picked three to help you learn more and find breaking topics.
Amnesty International ( is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. They work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity.
Human Right Watch ( is dedicated to protecting human rights of people around the world. They stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, uphold political freedom, protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice.
Youth For Human Rights ( is an independent non-profit that educates people about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so they become valuable advocates for tolerance and peace.

We have an entire group discussion dedicated to Bloggers Unite ( where you can add more organizations that you think are worth including.

To join, simply visit the Bloggers Unite page ( to get more information. Then, on Thursday, May 15th, write a blog post that shares awareness about human rights.

Your blog post could:
Have the title "Bloggers Unite For Human Rights" (or some variation).
include an example of human rights so people can learn about it.
Explain the importance of human rights and how it applies to everyone.
Link to one of the sites we've listed or the most suitable site for your country.
And add a link to our BlogCatalog Community Human Rights Awareness Campaign page so we can give you and your blog credit for being part of it.

If you have any questions, please e-mail And please, don't forget to tell your friends to blog about this too. Together, I know we can raise awareness and prove bloggers can do good!Regards
Afzal Khan
Professional Blogger - Proud Member BlogCatalog Community Human Rights Awareness Campaign