The UN must act to end persecution of the non-religious

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has called for the end to the global persecution of non-believers and religious non-conformists and a move to a total separation of religion and the state at the 30th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In the first of two statements to the UNHRC, BHA representative, Cordelia Tucker O’Sullivan reminded the Council that non-religious people are routinely persecuted, both by states and religious extremists, in places such as Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.

Ms Tucker O’Sullivan highlighted the plight of freethinker Raif Badawi, who continues to be imprisoned and lashed for ‘criticising Islam’. Raif’s case has received attention from organisations such as Amnesty International and various international media outlets, but Saudi Arabia has neither released him nor reduced his sentence. Raif Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu Al-Khair was also charged and convicted under Saudi Arabia’s new ‘anti-terrorism’ decree for his work as a human rights activist.

In its statement, the BHA again drew attention to the human rights abuses directed towards humanist bloggers in Bangladesh, and in particular, to the murders of Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das, and Niloy Neel, who were all on an ‘atheist hit list’ provided to the government of Bangladesh by Islamist extremists in 2013. Most of the remaining bloggers on the hit list have either fled Bangladesh or are in hiding, out of fear for their lives.

Read the full article here.