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Building Proceeds at KHPS

CLASSROOM BUILDING PROCEEDS AT KASESE HUMANIST SCHOOL

MEDIA RELEASE

28 DECEMBER 2013 - The Kasese Humanist School, with the support of Atheist Alliance International, is on-track to complete its new classroom structures within the next 6 months to start use in the Fall of 2014.

The Kasese Humanist School opened in 2008 in a rented warehouse building with 30 students. Its vision was to educate the next generation in science and reason without religious indoctrination. With AAI's help, the school has received sponsorships and supplies and has been growing each year. As of 2013, the school had hosted over 3,000 students, with the past term alone educating almost 300 students.

In 2013, the Kasese United Humanist Association - the sponsor of the Kasese school - recognized that they needed to create a permanent space specifically built to accommodate a school environment.  With AAI's help, they launched a capital campaign to purchase land and build new classroom buildings.  Construction started in fall of 2013.

Here are pictures of the recent construction:

    

 



The success of the Kasese school has come about because of our members' support.

Thank you for your support in making this project so successful!

You can contribute to this project by making a contribution here.


AAI Receives UN Special Consultative Status

Atheist Alliance International obtains UN Special consultative status

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has been accorded Special consultative status by the United Nations, enabling the organization to better serve the need of the world’s growing non-religious population and defend the interests of atheists and non-believers who are facing persecution from governments.

“Atheists face discrimination in many countries of world – including threats of imprisonment and even death – and often at the hands of their own governments,“ said AAI president Stuart Bechman. “With our new status we will be better able to provide these people with a voice in the international community.”

The UN approved AAI’s new status at its July 2013 Substantive Session following the recommendation of the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. AAI is now able to actively engage with the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiaries, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat, and affiliated programmes, funds and agencies.

AAI will be able to have official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and its Geneva and Vienna offices. AAI representatives will be able to register for and participate in events, conferences and activities of the UN. The organization may now also designate representatives to sit as observers at public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, the General Assembly, Human Rights Council and other UN intergovernmental decision-making bodies.

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AAI Supports Critical Thinking & Secular Ethics Program in Cambodia


Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is proud to partner with the Cambodian Children's Trust (CCT) to support Critical Thinking & Secular Ethics, a program to help educate Cambodian children for life.

The Critical Thinking & Secular Ethics project primarily works with children from 5 - 18 years of age.  The classes introduce children to the concept of a ‘community of inquiry’, exploring ethical dilemmas with the aim of developing skills to evaluate arguments and counter arguments, which will ultimately deepen their knowledge and understanding of the complexities of daily life.

The program focusses initially on children in CCT's care and street children who are part of the CCT community in Battambang Province, with over 140 participants at present.  Over time, it is hoped that the project will be expanded to include interested Khmer teachers, international volunteers and, ultimately, schools and NGOs in Cambodia.

Tara Winkler, founder of the Cambodian Children's Trust, said "We are very excited about this program - it has enormous potential to teach Cambodian children critical thinking skills and secular ethics, which will benefit them throughout their lives."

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AAI, CFI and IHEU criticise "World Statesmen Award" for Indonesian President

Atheist Alliance International (AAI), the Center for Inquiry (CFI) the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) are dismayed that the Appeal of Conscience Foundation has decided to award Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the World Statesmen Award at its 2013 Special Awards Dinner.  Indonesia's record on human rights and religious freedom is very poor and, as President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono bears a significant degree of responsibility for the situation.  We urge the Appeal of Conscience Foundation to re-consider this decision and alter its processes so that a similar mistake is not made in the future.

AAI, CFI and IHEU have campaigned specifically in the case of Alexander Aan, an Indonesian atheist who was attacked and arrested after posting 'there is no God' on Facebook in 2012, and notes that there are many cases of abuse against religious minorities in Indonesia, as documented by a February 2013 report by Human Rights Watch (Aan's case is mentioned on page 81).  Human Rights Watch described President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as "inconsistent at best in defending the right to religious freedom".

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AAI demands release of Bangladesh bloggers, protection of free expression

Image: Asif Mohiuddin. Source: The Daily Star

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Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges global governments to petition the government of Bangladesh to immediately release bloggers who have been arrested for allegedly "hurting religious sentiments” and, further, to demand that the state take resolute steps to protect atheists and religious minorities from real and pressing threats of violence.  On 2 April, police arrested Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez. The following day, authorities detained blogger Asif Mohiuddin, a writer who was attacked on 13 January by militant Islamists. The attack on Asif was followed a month later by the violent murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.

“That a government will arrest people for exercising free speech and expression when those people are themselves under threat from religiously-inspired criminals is a tremendous injustice and an outrage to humanity,” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz.  "This is contrary to basic human rights and Bangladesh's own constitution."  The arrests of the bloggers, three of whom were paraded in handcuffs at a press conference on 2 April, came after pressure from Islamists, who have organised a march to the capital on the weekend of 6/7 April to demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers.  “That the government has caved-in to a violent sectarian movement, by arrests and shutting of websites, does not bode well for the country’s future,” Diaz said. “The state should act to ensure a vibrant civil society by protecting free expression, especially the expression of minority viewpoints.”

AAI calls on the international community, concerned individuals and organisations to take a firm stand in supporting freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Religious tolerance and pluralism are strongest when freedom of expression, including freedom to challenge religious viewpoints, is protected for all peoples.

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Atheist Census Back Online After DoS Attack

MEDIA RELEASE

On 7 December Atheist Alliance International (AAI) launched Atheist Census at www.atheistcensus.com, a global project to count and capture a snapshot of the world’s atheists.  The response to Atheist Census was very positive, with 8,880 entries confirmed and another c. 2,300 pending before it was taken offline as a result of a DoS (denial of service) attack, about 17 hours after launch.   

Atheist Census is now back online with a higher level of protection, and entries have already grown to over 20,000.  The President of Atheist Alliance International, Carlos A. Diaz, said "It seems that there are people who do not want atheists to be counted, who do not want to accept that as more people question and think critically about religion atheists are a growing demographic.  It is a measure of the project's success - even at this early stage - that some people wanted to shut it down."  He added "While truth and fair public policy are not determined by popularity, demonstrating the significance of the non-religious community will assist our efforts to promote a secular world.  I encourage all atheists to be counted in Atheist Census."

Participants in Atheist Census identify their preferred non-religious title, religious (if any) background, education level level, age, gender identity and country.  Participation is free, with an option to make a financial donation to help cover development and operating costs. 

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Atheist Census Website Taken Down by DoS Attack

On 7 December Atheist Alliance International launched Atheist Census at www.atheistcensus.com, a global project to count and collect information on the world's atheists.  The response to Atheist Census was very positive, with 8,880 confirmed entries and another c. 2,300 pending before the site was taken offline as a result of a DoS (denial of service) attack, around 17 hours after launch.  We do not know who was behind the attack, but it's a reasonable conclusion that they do not like atheists being counted.  We are working hard to get Atheist Census online again.

Carlos A. Diaz
President, Atheist Alliance International

Huffington Post article on Atheist Census and the DoS attack.
Examiner article on Atheist Census and the DoS attack.
Christian Post article on Atheist Census and the DoS attack.

AAI urges Indonesia to review laws on blasphemy and expression

AAI URGES INDONESIA TO REVIEW LAWS ON BLASPHEMY & RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges the Indonesian government to review its laws that restrict freedom of speech in light of the unjust sentence of Alexander Aan, an atheist who was persecuted and jailed for expressing his views and who is now seeking recourse with the nation’s Supreme Court.

In January 2012, Aan was attacked by a mob after posting “God does not exist” on his Facebook wall. While his assailants received no reprimand, Aan was taken into police custody and, in June, was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility."

“While we are hopeful that Alexander will find justice with his appeal, it remains an outrageous affront to human dignity and intellectual freedom that he was ever imprisoned,” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz. “In order to ensure that this type of travesty does not happen again, it’s imperative that the Indonesian government take action to nullify or replace the unjust laws that have enabled his persecution.”

The imprisonment of Aan, whom Amnesty International has recognized as a “prisoner of conscience,” is contrary to international norms and universal human rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has maintained that “the right to freedom of religion or belief does not include the right to have a religion or belief that is free from criticism or ridicule.”

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AAI urges strong response against regressive UN anti-blasphemy resolutions


MEDIA RELEASE

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges governments and the international community, in the strongest possible terms, to support freedom of expression and conscience by objecting to any proposed anti-blasphemy resolutions or restrictions on the free exchange of ideas.

Member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are seeking a UN resolution criminalising the defamation of religion, a proposal that has in the past been resisted by organisations and governments concerned with freedom of expression and human rights. These OIC governments are exploiting the recent violence that erupted following the posting of a video on YouTube that many Muslims find insulting to Mohammed.

“AAI is deeply concerned that the UN member states will overreact to recent protests and violence in Muslim-majority countries – violence which itself is a grotesque overreaction to an amateur video of dubious origin – by endorsing anti-blasphemy resolutions during the General Assembly and within the UN Human Rights Council. Such steps would gravely undermine freedoms of expression and conscience, would give unwarranted privilege to religious viewpoints, and - most dangerously - would provide a veil of legitimacy for governments to oppress citizens in the name of protecting religion,” said President Carlos A. Diaz.

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AAI to sponsor up to 100 Brazilian students to attend First Secular Humanist Congress

MEDIA RELEASE

Versão em Português abaixo

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) will sponsor up to 100 students to attend the First Secular Humanist Congress, to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 8 - 9 September.  Hosted by the Secular Humanist League of Brazil (LiHS), an AAI Member, the Congress will give students the opportunity to hear from leading atheist and humanist speakers, meet like-minded people and explore ways respond to the negative influence of religion in government and society. 

Carlos A. Diaz, AAI President said "Students are an important part of the next generation of voters and workers in Brazil and AAI is proud to sponsor their attendance.  This is the first time AAI has supported a convention in Latin America and we are excited by this opportunity to support atheism and secularism in the region."  

AAI will be represented at the Congress by President Carlos A. Diaz and Director Alexandre Shimono.

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AAI launches scholarship fund for jailed Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan

MEDIA RELEASE

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched a scholarship fund for imprisoned atheist Alexander Aan to support his intention to study outside Indonesia after his eventual release. Aan was attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook.  He was convicted by an Indonesian court on 14 June 2012, sentenced to two years and six months jail and fined Rp100 million (c.US$10,600).
 
“Alexander is a prisoner of conscience who has lost his job and been taken away from his friends and family simply for stating his views.” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz. “Through thisscholarship fund, we wish to support Alexander's quest to broaden his mind, in an environment that values freedom of thought and expression. We call on the Indonesian government to promptly free Alexander and ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of religion - including the freedom to be non-religious - are supported in Indonesia.”
 
Indonesia currently requires that all citizens identify themselves as belonging to one of six state-recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. In addition to prosecuting Aan, the government has cracked down on minority sects and on religions seen as ‘apostates’ of Islam. 
 
Atheist Alliance International is continuing its appeal for funds to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family while he is in jail.  Donations for the legal defense fundand scholarship fund can be made at http://www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate.