Kia ora: Humanists in Nigeria have maintained a daily Vigil of Facebook posts for the unlawful detention of their President, Mubarak Bala. Today’s Facebook post – DAY 398 (31 May) Human Beings over Human Beliefs. A year has now past and still no release to freedom for Mubarak. Humanist NZ continues our monthly Vigil of noting the passing of the months. One year of months has already passed – when will freedom be gained? Mubarak is a symbol for all humanists who fear for their lives in dogmatic theistic countries.
· Monthly Meeting
Monday 14 June 6.30 pm until 9.00pm
(Note usual 1st Monday 7 June is the Queen’s Birthday public holiday)
Sara Passmore will lead us in a discussion on the basic principles of humanism. There are a number of statements that encapsulate humanism, and both Humanists International and the American Humanist Association have great summaries of what humanism is:
“Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.”
“Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.”
American Humanist Association
Both these statements link back to longer comprehensive documents. The defining document for Humanists International is the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 which was ratified at the 2002 International Humanist and Ethical Union World Congress, which may be read at https://humanists.international/policy/amsterdam-declaration-2002/
The American Humanist Association short statement is re-stated in the 1980 Secular Humanist Declaration written by Paul Kurtz. These affirmations of humanism can be read at https://secularhumanism.org/what-is-secular-humanism/affirmations-of-humanism/
All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend.
Venue: Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Wellington
· Te Awa O Matariki- Winter Solstice Celebration 20 June The HOP GARDEN, 13 Pirie St Mount Victoria, Wellington.
The rising of the Matariki star-cluster was important in Maori community life for navigation and the timing of the seasons. It was the beginning of the Maori new year as the Matariki star-cluster indicated the season to celebrate and to prepare the ground for the coming year of planting. New Zealand gardeners all enjoy autumn and the cleaning up of the summer harvest and preparing garden planting beds again. Matariki will become an official New Zealand holiday on 24 June 2022. Join us at The Hop Garden Sunday 20 June from 6pm to celebrate Mararriki in 2021. Nibbles will be provided. To assist with catering arrangements and to receive any updates for this event please send RSVP by txt to 021 155 7084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Humanism Radio Programme on Arrow 92.7FM
Tim Wright, a Humanist NZ committee member, is hosting a Humanist Radio programme on the first Sunday of the month at 8pm. Upcoming Radio show is 8pm 2nd May. It is available as a podcast and repeated on the 3rd Sunday of the month. https://www.arrowfm.co.nz/programmes/show/186/humanism/. Tim will compile a programme of humanist interest with news, views, interviews and music. Your feedback is welcome. Tim maybe contacted at email@example.com.
· 2021 Humanists International General Assemblies: will be held online 26 July and 15 August. Registration is due by 16 June. To register go to https://humanists.international/event/ga2021/ .These Zoom meetings are scheduled for 14.00 BST which in New Zealand time is 1am 27 July and 16 August. Maybe an early morning get-together for us here in New Zealand.
One Year of Unlawful detention for Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Society of Nigeria.
0n 28 April 2021 Mubarak had been unlawfully detained by Northern Nigerian Islamists for one year. In support of Humanists International’s protest action for one year of Mubarak’s unjust detention Humanist NZ wrote to the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand, the New Zealand Muslim Association and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand outlining our concerns. As yet we have had no replies from these organisations. Mubarak is now approaching 400 days of unlawful incarceration. Will Humanists International be protesting 500 days and then 1000 days of Mubarak’s detention?
28 April 2021 “Tena koutou
We are writing to you to ask if you might be able to assist in a case that we are very concerned about in Nigeria. The case is that of Mubarak Bala who is being unlawfully detained in the state of Kano. Mubarak was detained without charge on 28 April 2020 after complaints were made about a Facebook post by Mubarak. Since his detention, he has had very limited access to his lawyers, family and friends. He has not seen his wife and young son, now one year of age, since his incarceration one year ago on 28 April 2020. His young son was 6 weeks of age when Mubarak was arrested. The High Court in Abja, Nigeria, has ordered his release but the authorities in Kano are refusing to act on the Court order. On 28 April 2021, this year, Mubarak will have been detained for one year.
We understand that Mubarak has been detained because of his beliefs and a complaint about a Facebook post. Attached is a briefing paper, compiled by Humanists International, detailing Mubarak Bala’s case. We, the Humanist Society of New Zealand are a member organisation of Humanists International. We are a secular organisation that promotes Human Rights irrespective of thought, conscience, and belief.
We are concerned that this prolonged detention without charge breaches international Human Rights standards and laws. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 declared that fundamental human rights are to be universally protected. In Mubarak’s case, Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are pertinent:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are further developed in Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This covenant binds all countries that have signed and ratified it. Nigeria ratified this Covenant in 1993 so appears to be in breach of its obligations.
Mubarak’s detention appears to be a breach of his fundamental rights under Articles 18 and 19 of both the UDHR and ICCPR. He has received death threats while in prison and also threats that he will be killed if and when he is released.
Today, on Day 365 of Mubarak’s detention, Humanists International, the Humanist Society of New Zealand, and other member organisations of Humanists International are calling for Nigerian authorities to release Mubarak Bala.
We welcome your comments and any assistance that you can give in this matter and ask you to support our calls for the release of Mubarak Bala.
How Nepalese humanists are in the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic
With the emergence in recent months of rampant Covid -19, Nepal’s health system is suffering from a massive shortage of beds, oxygen and ventilators. SOCH Nepal has developed digital technology.so that any person in Nepal in an emergency can go directly to the nearest hospital with a bed and ventilators for ICU. Similarly, oxygen availability in the hospital can be tracked through the system. More than 193 hospitals throughout Nepal are listed in the system. Humanists International have posted an article on their website of this innovative work by SOCH Nepal.
“Since the beginning of the global health crisis, the Society for Humanism Nepal, a Member of Humanists International, has developed ingenious digital technologies (including a web portal and a mobile application) to assist the Nepali government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the most important strategies in the fight against the pandemic is to provide factual information and to keep the public educated on health concerns. Working hand in hand with the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), the Society for Humanism Nepal developed and implemented an official web portal that keeps track of COVID-19 cases and an offline mobile application to provide reliable information on crucial health protocols to Nepali citizens.
As every breath counts, the Society for Humanism Nepal upgraded the web portal to show real-time bed capacity, intensive care unit, and ventilator availability in more than 193 COVID-19 dedicated hospitals throughout Nepal after seeing severe cases flood hospitals and oxygen cylinders run out quicker than they can be replenished.
Uttam Niraula, Chief Executive of SOCH Nepal, commented:
SOCH Nepal has been at the forefront of the country’s pandemic response. We collaborated with the WHO and the Minister of Health to provide scientific information concerning COVID-19 and even developed a mobile application and web portal to assist the people and the government.
“Now, Nepal is going through the second wave of the pandemic and affected families are scrambling for hospital beds and oxygen supply amid the shortages. SOCH Nepal is also establishing a hotline service to provide ration for hungry people. We will continue to monitor the situation and help in any way we can, but we also call on for international solidarity. Nobody is safe unless everyone else is safe.”
Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Safe Areas) Amendment Bill
At the recent parliamentary health select committee hearing for submissions to this Bill, Sara Passmore and Iain Middleton spoke in support of the Humanist NZ submission. Here is a summary of the Humanist NZ position.
The Humanist Society of New Zealand, in common with other Humanist societies, holds that all people have the right to make their own ethical choices. Consistent with the principles of the right to planned parenthood and wanted children, Humanist societies have also supported the right of a person to seek abortion and to do so without that right being impeded or obstructed by other people seeking to dissuade or in any way obstruct them from doing so.
During the 1970’s the Humanist Society was a leader in the call to respect people’s rights to make their own decisions regarding free access to abortion services. Law reforms at that time established abortion clinics but severely restricted access to abortion services. In 2019 we supported the Abortion Legislation Bill which sought to significantly improve access to abortion services. A provision of that bill, supported by Humanist New Zealand, allowed the establishment of safe areas around abortion clinics on a case-by-case bases where necessary to prevent the unnecessary harassment of people attending the clinics. Unfortunately, due to some confusion in parliament regarding voting, the final Act defined safe areas but had no mechanism to establish them.
In July 2020, Louisa Wall introduced a private members bill to correct this anomaly. The Bill received its first reading in March this year. Humanist New Zealand made a submission that reiterated our strong support for the establishment of safe areas and spoke to the health select committee in support of safe areas. We reiterated that it was a person’s right to access abortion services with dignity and privacy and that it was their right to expect safety and wellbeing.
We also reiterated our strong support for the right to freedom of expression and argued that the small restriction on freedom of expression in this case is limited to the extent that is justifiable in a free and democratic society, as allowed under Section 4 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The establishment of safe areas does not prevent anyone from holding or expressing opinions, it just places a small restriction on where and how they might express them that is consistent with the rights and freedoms of others.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 29 2 states that: “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others”.
In the ICCPR, Article 11 states: 1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement …, 3. The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others. Article 17 reads: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. Other Articles that also allow for limited restrictions provided by law to support the rights of others.
We pointed out that freedom of expression is very important but has never been an absolute and that there is no country in the world where it is absolute. Countries have defamation laws, censorship laws, and restrictions on incitement to kill or commit other crime.
Safe areas are just a very small extension of the existing restrictions placed on freedom of expression. We considered that a person seeking an abortion has the right to approach a place providing services without fear of intimidation, being interfered with, obstructed, shouted at, or subjected to any other unwanted form of communication, or to any form of visual, audio, or other form of recording including still photograph.
We noted the complexity in the bill regarding the way that safe areas are set up and suggested that it could be simplified. Other jurisdictions, such as Australia, automatically provide 150 metre safe areas around any place providing abortion services.
We suggested that the definition of a protected person be extended to include support persons, and other people who are legitimately attending a building where abortion services are provided.
For privacy reasons, and for the physical and mental wellbeing of persons accessing abortion services, we considered that the bill should prohibit the publication of any recording of a protected person made outside a place where abortion services are provided, or other information that might lead to the identification of protected persons. This includes the publications by third parties that might lead to the identification of people attending clinics. We considered that this is a real concern.
There were 876 submissions on the bill. Of these, 26 organisations supported and 16 opposed the bill. These included government organisations and professional organisations. Organisations and individuals opposed were almost all organisations associated with the catholic church.
Organisations supporting safe areas:
Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association (“AWLA”)
Auckland Women’s Health Council
Equal Justice Project Auckland University
Humanist Society of New Zealand
Human Rights Commission
Midwifery Employee Representation and Advisory Service (MEARS)
National Council of Women of New Zealand
NZ College of Midwives
NZ College of Sexual and Reproductive Health
NZ Council for Civil Liberties
NZ Family Planning
NZ Law Society (with qualifications)
NZ Nurses Organisation
NZ Medical Association (NZMA)
Otago University Students Association (OUSA)
Palmerston North Women’s Health Collective
Public Services Association (PSA)
The Abortion Providers Group Aotearoa New Zealand (APGANZ)
The Weaving House
University of Auckland Campus Feminist Collective (“CFC”)
Victoria University of Wellington Feminist Law Society
Women’s Health Action
ZONTA Individuals in favour included Dame Margaret Sparrow.
Organisations opposing safe areas:
Catholic Diocese of Hamilton
Central Hawke’s Bay Voice for Life
Centre for Marriage and Family
Family First NZ
Family Life International
Free Speech Coalition
Hutt Valley Voice for Life
Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Diocese of Auckland
Legion of Mary St. Peter Chanel
LoM Praesidium, Northcote
Pro-Life Hawke’s Bay
Right to Life NZ
Safer Future Charitable Trust
Voice for Life Canterbury
Whangarei Branch, Voice for Life