What will the office of religious freedom do? For atheists,
apparently nothing. If you want it to look out of you, better
So I started this here blog post ante-domus and was a little concerned while the move was going on that it would become irrelevant. Would the Office actually make a statement condemning the violation of the human rights of Bangladeshi bloggers?
Okay, that was selfish of me. I would have been thrilled if the Office had done anything at all to help anyone anywhere who is an atheist and is being persecuted by religiously-motivated governments. I would have blogged it happily and would have even put down my screwdriver and stopped my renovations just to type the post. But it turns out I had nothing to worry about. It seems as if Andrew Bennett is now squarely at the helm of his new ship and it isn't coming anywhere near to helping stranded and persecuted non-believers anywhere.
You see, back in April 4th, the CFI got to meet with Bennett for the first time ever. They, nor any other secular or atheist group, had ever been consulted before - although they did consult this beauty pageant contestant. It seemed like finally they were interested in speaking with the non-religious, after a great deal of media attention about how they were snubbing us all along, naturally.
So during the April 4th meeting, Bennett apologized for this oversight and it looked like we might get some kind of help from the agency for non-religious who were being persecuted in the name of religion. So on April 14th, the CFI asked Bennett to truly show his commitment to secular and atheist victims of persecution, like the bloggers and Sharif Ahmed.
Well, I suppose talk is cheap. My hope is all gone.
I went back to the Office's website, in the media section, to check if maybe they did something under the radar that I missed while ferrying boxes in the past week or so. Here's a list of announcements since the Office was inaugurated back in February.
2013-03-08: None specified
2013-03-13: Christians (Catholics, New Pope)
2013-04-25: Christians (Orthodox)
2013-05-03: Muslims (Bennett's first)
I'm showing the dates and the groups that are being identified directly as being victims of persecution or the subject of praise or congratulation (as with the announcement after Pope Francis was chosen - only a couple of these). I could be wrong here and there, I've done my best to keep things only to explicit mentions of groups.
I'm not begrudging these announcements. The Office appears to be doing its job and actively calling out human rights violations when it sees them. They just don't seem to be looking out for the human rights of atheists, that's all. It's not surprising and sad. If only we had an office of human rights to protect humans rather than this office that only seems to care about religions. Oh yeah, we did have just that but it got killed while the ORF was still in-utero by the very same government that was pushing the ORF down our necks.
Now the March 8th announcement doesn't name anyone specifically, but it does condemn the violent situation in Bangladesh. This announcement was done before the meeting with CFI, so I tend to disregard it.
Canada Condemns Deadly Violence in Bangladesh
March 8, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
“Canada is deeply concerned by the escalating and deadly violence that has injured thousands and claimed the lives of scores of Bangladeshis. We urge all parties to end the violence, to work toward peacefully resolving the conflict and to reverse the growing divisions in Bangladeshi society.
“We also call on authorities to protect the rights and the lives of all Bangladeshis.
“We condemn in the strongest terms senseless attacks on civilians, most notably those on minorities in their homes and places of worship. Canada has welcomed Bangladesh’s commitment to pluralism and religious freedom, and we encourage further efforts by the government and all parties to promote peace and tolerance throughout the country.
“In the lead-up to parliamentary elections, we call on all parties to respect the rights to freedom of expression and of assembly and urge everyone to exercise these rights in a peaceful and democratic manner.”I'm parsing this noble yet broad statement and the only noticeable group I can get out of it is most notably those on minorities in their homes and places of worship. I wholeheartedly agree, but what about those who do not attend places of worship? What about those who decide to exercise their freedom of speech on the Internet? They're in jail right now and I see no mention of them here or in any following statements.
Just for completeness sake, I did the same thing for all the other announcements on ORF's media room site. I came up with this:
|2011-07-07 Christians, Bahá’ís
2011-08-16 None specified
2011-09-02 Christians, Bahá’ís
2011-09-28 Christians, Bahá’ís
2011-10-19 Christians, Bahá’ís
2011-11-05 None specified
2011-12-09 None specified
2012-03-14 None specified
2012-05-14 Christians, Bahá’í
|2012-06-20 None specified
2012-07-31 None specified (as victims)
2012-08-20 None specified
2012-09-12 None specified
2012-10-26 None specified
2012-12-10 Christians, Bahá’í
2012-12-20 None specified
2013-02-19 None specified