Showing posts with label petition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label petition. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Joint Letter to PM: Refugee Status For Bangladesh Secular Blogger & Petition You Can Sign


Awhile ago, I posted about the violent attacks on Bangladeshi secular bloggers in Dhaka on Halloween day. One of the bloggers, who's head was hacked, is Tareq Rahim. His wife, Monika Mistry is right here in Montreal. She is a Canadian citizen who is now in agony wondering if she will ever see her husband again alive.
Mistry had spoken with her husband just four hours before a friend in London, England called her in the middle of the night to let her know about the attack.

She said she feels powerless to be on the other side of the world while her husband is fighting for his life. Mistry, a Bangladeshi who came to Canada in 2006 and now lives in Montreal with her daughter from a previous marriage, said she can’t afford to go back to Bangladesh to be with Rahim.

“I can’t be there. I can’t see him, I can’t touch him, I can’t hear from him,” the 37-year-old woman said, struggling to keep her composure.
Tareq comes from a Muslim family, Monika from a Hindu one. As far as I can tell, neither were atheists - both are people who believe in secularism, like the readers of this blog. Now Tareq is asking for refugee status in Canada. He obviously requires this because who knows who's outside the hospital waiting.

The very first thing you can do is sign this petition and share it!


CFI Canada is calling on the government to take action and offer asylum to Tareq. The fact is that Tareq was in the process of obtaining legal entrance into Canada when the attack occurred  because he understood his life was at risk.
The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada, a non-profit education organization, is leading calls for the newly elected Trudeau government to intervene in the case.

“CFI Canada is making an appeal to the Canadian government, and certainly Justin Trudeau, to ask for some compassionate support for someone who would have likely been coming to Canada if they hadn’t been attacked by terrorists before getting a chance to do that,” said Executive Director Eric Adriaans.
A letter has been written and signed on by 17 groups and individuals. You can find the full press release over at CFI Canada. I'm including the full text of the letter to Justin Trudeau and others in the text box below:

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

November 13, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

Re : Joint Statement Calling on the Canadian Government to Provide Humanitarian Assistance to Secularists in Bangladesh

We, the undersigned organizations and concerned supporters, urgently call on the Canadian government to act on behalf of one of its citizens, Monika Mistry, to help her Bangladeshi husband recover in safety from a brutal attack he suffered in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

On October 31, 2015, Tareq Rahim, an intellectual, poet and blogger, was attacked with two of his colleagues by a group of suspected Islamists wielding machetes and cleavers. Just hours later a secular publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan, was hacked to death in his Dhaka office; he is the fifth secularist to be killed in Bangladesh this year. Ansar al-Islam (Ansarullah Bangla Team), a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the attacks.

Tareq and Monika have a mixed-faith relationship and had plans to enjoy their marriage here in Canada once they were able to complete Immigration Canada’s paperwork. We implore the Canadian government to assist Tareq and Monika to expedite this process on appropriate grounds and expedite the necessary processes to bring Tareq to Canada to recover from this brutal attack in safety.

Currently, Tareq remains in hospital with a bullet lodged in his abdomen that doctors have been unable to remove. Even in the hospital, Tareq has minimal security and we fear his attackers will return to repeat their attack. While there is some security in the hospital, once Tareq is discharged he will be at a very high risk of continued attempts on his life and likely faces assassination.

The attacks on October 31 are just the latest incidents of faith-based violence committed against the vulnerable religious minority, secularists, in Bangladesh this year. Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Neel and Faisal Arefin Dipan were all secular writers, publishers and activists who spoke out against religious extremism and had repeatedly received death threats for their writings. They were associated with a “hit-list” of 84 atheist bloggers submitted to the Bangladeshi government that was subsequently leaked in 2013 prior to their murders by members of Islamic groups in Bangladesh. Since then, two new global hit-lists have been published by Ansarullah Bangla Team, a group of Bangladeshi Islamic extremists that targets Bangladeshi secularists both in country and around the world. Currently, 20 or more secularists and humanists have been forced to flee into exile out of fear for their lives, but the global hit-list ensures that the threats against them are not restricted to Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh’s current political climate, these gruesome, faith-based crimes continue with no end in sight and impunity increases for those already committed. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and the ruling Awami League party, which claim to be secular, have done little to speak out for justice in these crimes and have taken no steps to protect this targeted group.

Diplomatic relations between Canada and Bangladesh were built upon shared values of democracy and pluralism, placing Canada in a unique position to remind the Bangladeshi government of its duty to protect all of its citizens. We urge the Canadian government to convince Prime Minister Hasina and the Awami League party that turning a blind eye to the gruesome, hacking deaths of its own citizens for political expediency only strengthens religious extremism. The Bangladeshi government must not allow political interests to trump the rule of law.

Before these latest attacks on October 31, over 300 human rights organizations, civil society organizations and supporters, and concerned members of blogging and activist communities in Bangladesh and internationally had already protested in the strongest possible terms the institutional attack on Bangladeshi citizens who profess humanist, atheist or secularist views.

In Canada, we have already reached out individually to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; The Honorable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; The Honorable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Robert McDougall, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; Honorable Frank Baylis, Member of Parliament Pierrefonds-Dollars; and Mr. Andrew Bennett, Ambassador for Religious Freedom. 

The undersigned Canadian and supportive international organizations and individuals are now standing in unity and adding their voices to the outcry. However, it is even more important for the Canadian government to show compassion for its citizen, Monika Mistry, by helping her injured husband and by working to end tolerance of faith-based violence in Bangladesh.

Canadians are privileged to enjoy a peaceful, tolerant and culturally diverse society and we are proud of our country’s history in accepting people of all faiths – and those without a faith – and those who are fleeing persecution. Canada must take its place as a global leader in providing protection for persecuted religious minorities around the world.

We implore the Canadian government to continue to stand up for traditional Canadian values and to make Canada a safe destination for those facing persecution for their views. Please help us to expeditiously reunite Tareq Rahim with his wife while he recovers from this brutal assault of faith-based terrorism.

Signed, Eric Adriaans, National Executive Director – Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC)
Kevin Smith, Board Chair – CFIC Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director – British Columbia Humanist Association
Brendan de Caires, Programs & Communications Director – PEN Canada 
Eric Thomas, President – Humanist Canada 
Michel Virard, Association humaniste du Québec
Sean McGuire, atheist Writer & Editor My Secret Atheist Blog
Veronica Abbass, Editor Canadian Atheist
Andrew Copson, President – International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
Richard Thain, Canadian secularist activist and citizen
Randy Bowes, Board Chair – West Hill United Church
Board of Directors – Humanists Atheists Agnostics of Manitoba
David Rand – Libres penseurs athées – Atheist Freethinkers
Rafida Ahmed Bonya & Administrators of the Mukto Mona Blog Site 
Center For Inquiry U.S.
Christine Shellska – President – Atheist Alliance International
Progressive Atheists Inc (Australia)
Canadian Humanist Publications

Cc
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition
The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship Immigration and Refugees
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Member of Parliament Sturgeon River – Parkland
The Honourable Thomas Mulcair, Member of Parliament Outremont
The Honourable Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament Saanich-Gulf Islands
The Honourable Frank Baylis, Member of Parliament Pierrefonds-Dollard

You'll find another simpler sample letter at a previous post I did about Tareq's situation along with ways to contact your politicians.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Sign This Petition to Get Saudi Arabia Off UN Human Rights Council


My post yesterday about Saudi Arabia being appointed a key role within the UN Human Rights Council was mainly a vent. It didn't have anything you could actually do about this situation.

Well, I still don't have much, but I do have this petition to remove Saudi Arabia from the panel altogether.

It was started just two days ago and has already amassed over 11,000 signatures.

(Image source)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Popular TV Program Asks Young Quebecers to Support Raif Badawi

A Facebook appeal from the cast of youth television drama 30 Vies to speak out in support of Raif Badawi ('Youth for Raif').
(source)
When it comes to places to seek refuge, Quebec was a very good choice for Raif Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar and her family. As the days go by, I'm feeling rather proud as a Quebecer at the absolute groundswell of support for Raif Badawi in this province -- all over the media, everywhere.

Here's an online call to action from the popular television program 30 Vies (in French) asking their young viewers to get out and write letters in support of Raif and spread the word far and wide. They describe Raif's situation and provide a link to a special Amistie Internationale website Jeunes pour Raif. It contains a petition you can sign -- they already have over 60,000 signatures.

Wish I'd see support like this coming from English media...

Meanwhile, Raif's health continues to decline.


Friday, 30 January 2015

Screw the Law! Dominant Christian Majority Has 'Tradition!'

One of the women who brought forward the petition is Susanne Guenther, a member of the Salvation Army.
It's the stuff of an inspirational movie -- about the persecuted and downtrodden minorities in our society, who band together and stand up against the System, against The Man. Thus, with clenched fists raised and arms joined in solidarity -- defending their god who is apparently tied up with something else at the moment -- they scream out: You cannot keep us down! You can take away our lives but you cannaugh' take away our freedom!

Except that it isn't this really. It's two women and a crowd of 100 or so like-minded defenders of tradition. These are warriors for the way it's been for the past 100 years -- imported European Christian tradition -- what the majority still wants, soldiers fighting for the oppressed status quo.

They got together after getting upset. The privileged position of their completely dominant religion, Christianity, was finally ever so slightly but still not at all put in check at Brampton City council meetings for legal reasons. The newly elected mayor, after consultation with her council members and their lawyer, decided to drop one very specific magical incantation -- Lord's Prayer -- and replace it with a non-denominational spell.

Now to introductions.  First we have high school teacher Greta Archer.  She got mad and, among other things, said this directly to the new mayor at city council:
Because, I believe it should be maintained as a part of our Canadian Christian heritage and everything addresses... we think it's separate but really it's not...  state and religion... history tells us they are connected, whether we like it or not. Seeking direction is very very vitally important.. and maintaining what Canada, why I came to Canada: freedom, yes, but for the Christian heritage that I can pass on to my children and they to their children.
Freedom? Yeah sure, but for the Christian heritage. You know, 'tradition.' Anyone else better stand aside, because Canada is a Christian country, get into the slow lane and stay there, please.

At some point, Greta met Susanne Guenther, whom I've written about before as well. Susanne is a member of the definitely not LGBT-friendly Salvation Army. She started a petition just a month before Greta made her television appearance with the mayor.
To begin Council meetings with the Lord's Prayer is to acknowledge there is a higher power, and to petition a blessing for all the people of Brampton.  There are no exclusive terms within the prayer. It asks for provision and protection for all people. There can be no wording more inclusive than those already spoken. Canada is a Nation that has grown and prospered because of it's (sic) foundation of Biblical Principals (sic) that are for every people in this world. To remove a foundation is detrimental to a firm structure. 
Don't they both resemble each other? More Christian Dominionism, I say. As an exercise, replace Biblical principles with the laws of another religion and then think about both statements as really forming the basis of a country's legal and political system. I'll let you use your imagination. See what springs to mind.

Wednesday, Greta joined Susanne to present petitions garnering some 5,000 signatures at City Hall. These people are demanding that the City of Brampton shove their state-endorsement of Christianity down the throats of religious and non-religious minorities. Christians have been persecuted for too long here! -- a few months.
“We have come today to tell you that we find your abrupt, undemocratic removal of the Lord’s Prayer from council meetings disappointing and shocking,” said Brampton resident Greta Archer, speaking on behalf of dozens of residents who crammed into council chambers to petition against the move.

They want council to reinstate the tradition and presented a box full of petitions with about 5,000 signatures.
What Greta and the article seemed to be missing is that her 5,000 signatures, less than 1% of the city's population, doesn't count a single lick. The courts have settled this and the city's legal counsel knows it. This is a question of human rights -- the right of any Muslims, Jews, Jains, Raëlians, Wiccans or atheists in the room not to be completely alienated and intimidated by the state's obvious endorsement of a single religion.
“You have ripped a 130-year-old tradition right out from under us. “There is nothing in this prayer that should offend anyone.”
I hate these statements because they seem so disingenuous to me. If this prayer is so utterly meaningless and watered down, then let's chuck it. Obviously it holds very great meaning to a certain privileged majority religious group within Brampton who might feel threatened by moves to more inclusion and diversity. Privilege is often unfelt and hidden until it is exposed and removed. This is more than just a tradition this is an expression of dominance and one religion's stamp of ownership on a city, a country. Let's be real, both sides know this.

There is nothing in a Secular Humanist or even Pagan invocation that should offend anyone -- let's bring those out and have them before the council meetings. In fact, I suggest we start a petition to have Jedi and Flying Spaghetti Monster invocations complete with light sabers and spaghetti strainer hats. Can someone in Brampton start a petition for this? I'm reasonably certain that if word got out, more than 5,000 people would sign up.

'I' personally don't see anything that ought to offend Greta about this and 'I' question 'her' right to be offended. Why should she decide what offends her, right? If heads are to bow to His Noodliness, I expect Greta to honour the proper decorum and solemn tradition lest they cause blasphemous offence.

Anyway, the city has voted to send this question back to committee for discussion. This almost certainly means they'll cave if people don't start come out in favour of secularism or else threaten legal action somehow.

The Toronto Sun 'boils' the situation down to 10 comments, most of which are favourable to secularism and separation of church and state.
God has no place in politics anyways. They removed the Lord’s Prayer from public schools a long time ago, so why would it still be in government buildings? Perhaps the councillors should be reminded they are there to represent the public, and just worry about doing their job. – brob
Oh, but I'm certain there are plenty of people who would love to see the Lord's Prayer in every school, government building, courthouse. This is a sliding scale, of course with a sort of theocratic state on one end.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Petition: Amazon Should Not Sell Book That Encourages Child Abuse

To Train Up a Child advocates physically abusing your
own children. Because apparently it's what Jesus would 
do. (source)
A couple of weeks ago, Washington State Christian homeschooling couple Larry and Carri Williams, got the maximum sentence possible for torturing and killing their adopted child.

All along they claimed that they were inspired by a revolting book called To Train Up a Child, which recommends beating up babies, toddlers and children with sprigs, sticks and plumbing tools to teach them to stop being so immature impertinent. It's apparently a favourite go-to reference book for some in Christian homeschool circles.
To Train Up A Child advocates using a plumbing tool to beat children with starting at age one. The book also advocates giving children cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather, and forcing them to miss meals, as well as beating them; all of which exemplifies the abuse investigators said Hana endured.
This bothers me as someone who is actually on the provincial adoption list for a child, as a parent, as a Humanist and as a human being. These were sick sick individuals who used this revolting book as an excuse to be monsters.

Well, now there is a petition to ask Amazon to stop helping the book's authors make a profit off their site -- and to stop Amazon from profiting off this horrendous book.

Amazon.com: Remove the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl

From the petition page:
This book is atrocious. It has been linked to the deaths of three children, Lydia Schatz, Hana Williams and Sean Paddock. This book teaches "discipline" in the form of child abuse, neglect and torture. As a long time customer of Amazon, I was shocked to see that this is sold through their company. No one should advocate that a child should be whipped or spanked into submission as this book does. The book states: "Give 10 licks at a time, more if the child resists. Be careful about using it in front of others -- even at church; nosy neighbors might call social workers."

Some people are calling this censorship, but I disagree. They are not calling for the book to be banned outright -- just that Amazon, a company, stop selling it.

Speaking of Amazon, if you check its listing for this book, you'll see something disturbing. You have over 2,600 single star ratings (the lowest possible rating), but you also have roughly half as many five star ratings (1,200).

At first, this is truly depressing and it makes me wonder just how many poor children are being beaten senseless by parents who are taking this book seriously. Then I realized at least some of the five star ratings were actually very negative reviews of the book meant to catch the attention of anyone who might come in support of the book.

But sadly, many other five star reviews are sincere.
Read this good book several years ago after our children were pretty much grown up. I distinctly remember actually crying out of regret that I hadn't read a book like that when our children were small. It has such good advise how to raise your child in a biblical loving way. Yes, discipline belongs to that, too. Even God says He disciplines those He loves. There is a BIG difference between hitting a child in anger after you have blown your top and giving him/her a few swats with a switch to teach to obey if necessary. Look at the Pearls children how they turned out and their relationhip with their parents and how their children are doing and that speaks for itself.
Remember...
The Pearls provide instructions on using a switch from as early as six months to discourage misbehavior and describe how to make use of implements for hitting on the arms, legs or back, including a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line that, Mr. Pearl notes, “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.”
How is this even possible?

I wish I could say that pulling this book off Amazon would help the children of die-hard fundamentalist Christian abusers, but I just don't think so. I think that these people start out pre-disposed to beating their children and are looking for some validation for their acts. And what's better to validate cruel and inhuman actions but a little religion?

So long as this book is sold anywhere people like this will latch onto it or any other disturbing material to help excuse their inhuman actions.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Amnesty International UK Launches Petition In Support Of Pussy Riot Member Nadya Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at the Moscow Tagansky District Court.
A few days ago I wrote about Nadya Tolokonnikova from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who was sentenced to two years in prison for singing a controversial song in a Moscow church.

Well, after a hunger strike protesting abysmal conditions at her penal colony, she was hospitalized. Now she's been shipped off to somewhere in Siberia - 3,000 miles away from her husband and child in Moscow - to, well, nobody knows for sure.
... the authorities decided to move her to another prison at her request. Or so I've heard. She then went missing for two weeks. I thought for sure she was missing for good - the government could just say the disappeared. Maybe some cronies were paid off by the abusive prison chief who became disgruntled by Nadya's complaints of prisoners being tortured for no good reason.
In response to the USSR Russia hiding Nadya, Amnesty International has begun a petition to compel Moscow to divulge her location and ensure she is in good health. They have very well-founded concerns.

PUSSY RIOT: WHERE IS NADYA?
We're unsure which penal colony Nadya's being moved to. There are reports that she was to be moved from Mordovia to a colony in the Chuvash region; another report suggests she was being taken to a detention centre in the remote Ural mountains. So far, authorities have refused to confirm where she is.
The thought is that Russian authorities are using this opportunity to punish her for speaking out about the vile and inhuman conditions of her first penal colony.
The working conditions at the Mordovian penal colony where Nadya was being held are illegal under Russia's labour code. This was verified by a presidential working group on human rights that visited the colony following Nadya's complaint.Prisoners work 12-16 hours every day, seven days a week
  • They have no contracts or legal protection
  • Paid much less than Russia's minimum wage
  • Not allowed to complain or disagree with working conditions
  • Complainants are punished informally, outside of official systems.
Please go sign the petition for Nadya. On it you'll read more about the death threats against her for simply doing the right (and extremely gutsy) thing of standing up for her human rights and the rights of her fellow inmates. She is one brave human.

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