Defence and Protection of Humanists

SAHA is an organization for expats but we are worried about the dangerous attacks and serious discrimination Humanists and Rationalists are being subjected to in the South Asian region.

Despite Secularism, and indeed Humanism, being inscribed in some of the Constitutions of the countries in the region (Nepal, India), and the assurance of Human Rights for all (Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), despite the respective countries’ International Human Rights obligations, non-religious groups like ours, and indeed our beliefs, have come under serious attack and disparagement by authorities and public leaders.

This stance and attitude by public authorities has enabled, emboldened and encouraged many intolerant non-state actors to attack the non-religious in the region. In an atmosphere already vitiated by social unrest and disturbance, it makes our groups even more vulnerable as our stance is usually away from mainstream society.

Examples:

Free-Thinker author and Humanist Dr. Taslima Nasreen fled Bangladesh after massive mobilisation of murderous mobs in the country in 1994 (http://skwz.in/Taslima), Dr. Yunis Shaikh from Pakistan was made the victim of Pakistan’s brutal Blasphemy law in 2001 and awarded the Death Penalty (http://skwz.in/PakistanBlasphemy), secular oriented Provincial Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated in Pakistan for calling for reform of the Blasphemy Law (http://skwz.in/SalmanTaseer), the Central Minister for Water Resources in India Ms. Uma Bharati declared on in September 2014 that the reason for the catastrophic floods of North India that killed 6000 people was the presence of Atheists in the region(http://skwz.in/FloodsAtheists).

Such prevailing prejudice against Humanists and Rationalists who insist on strengthening Reason and Human Values in society; such hate mongering added to by others, like a Hindu religious leader who called for the shooting of Atheists in the town centre by the general public in the absence of any formal action against those who are instigating violence against us has had disastrous consequences.

SAHA is creating a defense task force for analysis of Country situation, monitoring the media for reports, creating early alerts, informing the authorities and drawing the attention of National and International Human Rights organizations to the situation, and also assist with resources the rehabilitation or removal from danger of endangered Humanists.

INDIA

This prevailing and unchecked atmosphere made it possible for on-going murderous attacks on Humanists and Rationalists.
  • Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, founder of the Maharashtra Andha Shradha Nirmulan Samiti (Maharashtra Forum for Elimination of Superstition) and eminent social worker was assassinated on 20 August 2013. http://skwz.in/economist
  • The well known Rationalist Social activist Govind Pansare was assassinated on 20 February 2015. http://skwz.in/Pansare
  • The distinguished scholar and former Vice Chancellor of Kannada University, Prof. Kalburgi was assassinated on 30 August 2015. http://skwz.in/kalburgi
  • Most recently, in 2017 itself, on 2 March, eminent Dalit writer Dr. Krishna Kirwale was found murdered in his home in Kolhapur. http://skwz.in/kirwale




While the motives for the latest murder are vague, for all the others, it is clear that they were eliminated because of their Humanism, Rationalism and Secularism. http://skwz.in/CaravanMagazine and http://skwz.in/LinkedMurders

TODAY, the President of the Maharashtra State’s Nagpur-based Anti-Superstition group - Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti - Mr. Shyam Manav has an armed vehicle escort him as the right wing intolerant non-state actors are threatening his life/ of his colleagues. Indeed, Prof. Narendra Nayak, President of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) has 24-hr armed escort to protect him. The former Muslim E.A. Jabbar, Chairman of the Science Trust in Kerala and Editorial Board member of Yuktiyugam (Age of Reason) in Kerala has been facing death threats and is living in exile having fled India after death threats but will soon have to return to India as his tourist visa expires. Not only Mr. Jabbar, but the threats to life are also extended to members of the Facebook Group Freethinkers. http://skwz.in/freethinkers Facebook shut down three times the Freethinker Discussion group with over 75 thousand members. The blood is still drying of 31-yr old Farook from Rationalist heartland Tamil Nadu who was killed on 20 March 2017 for posting on Facebook Periyar’s statement ‘There is No God, No God, No God At all’. When a Muslim Aklaq was killed by a Hindu mob on suspicion of having beef in his refrigeration the nation was outraged. The lynching of Farook, an Atheist , did not evoke similar sympathy.

In October 2016 an Atheist Convention by learned persons and scholars in North India had to be called off following violent protests by religious groups who were supported by the police! (http://skwz.in/NorthIndia). And most alarmingly, a Hindu Nationalist group has called openly for the assassination of the Chief Minister of Kerala State in this very month of March. (http://skwz.in/Pinarayi). No arrests. No serious investigation into the culprits or the sources of threat. Despite three years having been passed since his assassination, no adequate allocation of official resources nor any credible progress has been seen in the investigation of the assassinations nor in identifying the culprits.

NOT JUST INDIA

The tone of public wrath and intolerance against Humanists, Rationalists and Atheists ie those who have rejected religion or the super natural as the basis for their morality or for an explanation of the Universe, has been set by the highest public authorities in several countries: 1 April 2014, a Royal Decree by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia declared that Atheists were terrorists (http://skwz.in/SaudiArabia). The fact is that there has been no instance of Atheists being part of any violence for their Atheism in that country or in their neighborhood. The Prime Minister Of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak declared Humanism, Secularism, Liberalism and Human Rights’ as a threat to the National religion of that Islamic state (http://skwz.in/Malaysia). India’s Prime Minister repeatedly mocks at the secularists.

Indeed any attempts to help reform or improve the situation have been met with the most terrible consequences not only in India but also in neighboring countries:

BANGLADESH
Seven Bangladeshi bloggers have been killed – most were blogging about Science and Human Rights, and rarely about Religion. None of their killers has been credibly identified leading to satisfactory prosecution. Indeed, the Prime Minister refused to comment and the Home Minister warned other bloggers to not provoke, literally making the dead responsible for their own deaths. The well known science advocate and Humanist Avijit Roy’s public elimination on 26 February 2015 outside a book fair was the most prominent. Soon the intolerance has spread to aid workers, those of minority religions and now Muslims who are deviating from the hardline of some militant groups. (http://skwz.in/BanglaBloggers)

PAKISTAN
Most recently, on 9 January 2017, alarming news spread all over the world of the seemingly coordinated kidnapping of 9 secular activists in Pakistan. This latest attack on the secular community mostly living anonymously and under pseudonyms is a warning to the world. (http://skwz.in/PakistanBloggers)

NEPAL
Nepal’s newly adopted Constitutional but unsure secularism and its poor law and order situation combined with porous borders also means that an atmosphere for the concrete defence of the Rights of Humanists and Atheists, is not easy. Nepal does provides transit houses for some escaping murderous attacks by Bangladeshi militants.

SRILANKA
Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war, its traumatic after effects and consequent intolerance has established the realization amongst us that the promotion of our common interests has become virtually perilous in South Asia.
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