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

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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


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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

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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

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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.

AAI launches 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to support jailed Indonesian atheist

MEDIA RELEASE

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched the 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to draw attention to the case of Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook.  Aan 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).

AAI urges people to exercise their freedom of expression by tweeting messages of support for Aan with the hashtag #goddoesnotexist and posting 'God Does Not Exist' on their Facebook page.  AAI also encourages people to send messages of support to Aan and to write to the Indonesian authorities to call for his release and a change to Indonesian law.  For more information click here.

Atheist Alliance International will continue its appeal for funds to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family while he is in jail.  Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/ Support Fund for Alex Aan).

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Atheist Alliance International condemns jail sentence for Alexander Aan

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Podras encontrar una version en espanol despues de la version en ingles

Atheist Alliance International condemns the verdict against Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist who was attacked and arrested after posting 'God does not exist' on Facebook.  Alexander Aan was today jailed for two years and six months for blasphemy under Indonesia's criminal code.  He was also fined Rp 100 million (c. US$10,600).

Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International, said "Alex simply stated his personal view on the topic of religion, yet he now faces years in jail.  This judgement is an affront to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Indonesia's blasphemy laws are archaic, an embarrassment to a country that appears to be striving to join the developed world and should be repealed immediately."

Atheist Alliance International has been running an appeal to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family since he was arrested in January this year.  Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).

TAKE ACTION: Please contact the Indonesian authorities to condemn Alex Aan's jail sentence and to call for the immediate repeal of Indonesia's blasphemy laws.

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European Atheist Convention Adds to Worldwide Movement


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Deutsche Version unter der englischen Version

Globally, atheists are more organised and active then ever before - and the movement toward a secular world, based on reason and evidence, continues to gather momentum.  World-class speakers, atheists, freethinkers, humanists and secularists will gather at the 2012 European Atheist Convention The Atheist Perspective & Our Future - national, regional, global, to be held 25 - 27 May 2012 in Cologne, Germany.

Hosted by the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) and Atheist Alliance International (AAI) in cooperation with the Giordano Bruno Foundation (GBS), speakers at the convention include PZ Myers, biologist and Pharyngula blogger, Carsten Frerk, author of the German Humanist Press Service, Taslima Nasrin, international human rights activist, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-Founder and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Dan Barker, former evangelical preacher and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Michael Schmidt-Salomon from GBS and Skepchick's Rebecca Watson.

René Hartmann, Chairman of IBKA said "There are many situations where religion has unwarranted privilege in Germany and across Europe - including in relation to tax status, exemption from employment laws and influence on social issues.  Atheists and secularists must cooperate within their own countries and across borders to make their voices heard and promote critical thinking about religion and its influence. The Atheist Perspective & Our Future is an excellent opportunity to listen to insightful talks, meet other secular-oriented people and consider the next steps to promote a fairer, more rational Europe."

“It's fantastic to see the worldwide movement represented strongly in Europe" said AAI President Tanya Smith.  "The Atheist Perspective & Our Future adds to previous European conventions in Denmark (2010) and Ireland (2011) and in 2012 there has already been the success of the Global Atheist Convention in Australia, the first Southeast Asian atheist convention - in the Philippines - and Imagine No Religion 2 in Canada.  Atheists are out and proud as we should be - we advocate critical thinking about religion and public policy based on reason and evidence - a religion-neutral approach that is fair for all."

Further details on the 2012 European Atheist Convention can be found at www.ibka.org/en/convention2012  and http://www.facebook.com/ pages/2012-European-Atheist- Convention/300798196637127.

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