All posts by humanistfreedoms

Human Rights Challenge to Government Funding of Catholic Schools in Ontario

The following article has been compiled from information provided by OPEN.


An application stating the current funding of Ontario separate schools violates s.15(1) of the Charter of Rights has been filed at the Ontario Superior Court and served on the Ontario government on behalf of One Public Education Now (OPEN) lawyers Adair Goldberg Bieber.

Learn more about Ontario’s History of Ontario Catholic Separate School Funding by reading the only book about that we’ve been able to find.

The two plaintiffs, a public high school teacher, and a parent of children in the French public school system, are founding members of OPEN (One Public Education Now). OPEN is a coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to challenging the current discriminatory funding of the schools of one religion.

Many people want to do something about this discriminatory funding of one religious school system, but don’t know what to do. Governments and political parties ignore letters, articles and petitions. But they can’t ignore lawsuits, and people can do something by contributing to our challenge.  Our lawsuit is funded by the donations of many people and needs additional funding to continue our legal fight.

The Application states there have been sufficient changes since 1987 that the Reference re Bill 30 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the Charter does not apply to the funding of Ontario separate schools should be re-examined.

Therefore, the only rights protected from Charter challenge are those that existed in 1867 and are protected by s.93(1); and the public funding of non-Catholics at separate schools and the public funding of Grades 11 and 12 at separate schools, neither of which existed in 1867, violate the equality sections of the Charter of Rights.

Not only is the public funding contrary to the Charter of Rights, but it wastes money in duplicate administration and unnecessary busing of students at a time when money is needed for, among other things, protecting the safety of teachers and students. Estimating the savings is difficult because so many of the costs are hidden but it has been estimated up to 1.6 billion dollars a year could be saved. So many people think separate schools are funded by residential property taxes, not realizing just 7% of separate school operational funding, and none of the capital funding, come from the property taxes of residential separate school supporters.

OPEN’s Positions Regarding Funding of Catholic School System in Ontario
  • Separate schools were started under historical circumstances that no longer exist; for example, there were fights between Protestants and Catholics in public schools and Ontario agreed to protect separate Catholic schools in return for Quebec protecting separate Protestant schools; these circumstances no longer apply
  • So much has changed since the 1987 Reference re Bill 30 Supreme Court of Canada decision, such as Quebec abolishing its funding of separate schools in 1997,  that the ruling the Charter of Rights does not apply to the funding of Ontario separate schools, should be reconsidered
  • Separate schools are not paid for by separate school residential property taxes.
  • Capital funding is paid for entirely by general provincial revenues.  In general, only 7% of operating revenues of separate schools come from residential property taxes; 15% comes from business property taxes; 70% comes from general provincial funding.
  • By contrast, 15% of  public school funding comes from residential property taxes and only about 60% from general provincial funding.
  • The current system wastes money.  Boards of Trustees, Superintendents of Education, Board offices and administrative staff, are duplicated.
  • We don’t have two fire services, one for Catholics and one for everyone else.  Think of the waste if we did.
  • Students are bused to the closest public or separate school, instead of walking or being bused to the nearest publicly-supported public school.
  • Local community schools are being closed that could be kept open if all local students went to a public local school, not split between public and separate schools
  • Estimating the savings is difficult because so many of the costs are hidden but it has been estimated up to 1.6 billion dollars a year could be saved.
  • One third of Ontario publicly-funded teaching jobs are denied to the two-thirds of the population who are not Catholic even though all Ontario tax-payers pay for these schools.
  • Of course Catholics who want to can pay to send their children to religious schools, just as Anglicans, Baptists, Muslims and others do.  What is unfair is the government, for outdated reasons,  funding one religious group .
  • People have signed petitions, written articles, and sent letters and emails.  But because all the major parties support the status quo, nothing changes.

People can contribute to the challenge via the OPEN website, https://open.cripeweb.org/aboutOpen.html through our secure PayPal link, or send through e-transfer (Interac) to open@cripeweb.org. All contributions greatly appreciated.

Contact : open@cripeweb.org for more information.

Image Courtesy of Civil Rights In Public Education


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/about/
  2. https://open.cripeweb.org/aboutOpen.html
  3. http://www.cripeweb.org/home.php

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

What Does a Humanist Need to Know About Global Risks in 2022?

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we locate articles and information published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy.

Following is a collection of information pertaining to global risks in 2022

What Do You Have to Say?

Do you have information or resources that would improve this article? Please submit it via our contact page.

What does the World Economic Forum Have to Say?

Based in Geneva, the World Economic Forum describes itself as the premier organization fostering cooperation between the public and private sectors of the economy. WEF claims to be independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests; it also claims to adhere to a stakeholder principle which requires organizations to be accountable to all parts of society. The 50th annual meeting of the WEF was held in 2020 and was titled “The Great Reset” and which garnered some attention and concern regarding the idea and agenda that it advocated.

On January 11, 2022 – the WEF has published the 17th iteration of its Global Risks Report. It may be reasonable to adopt a critical eye when studying a document of this type, but it is also reasonable to consider the 117 pages a valuable source for informing a humanist perspective on the world and our human events. If wading through 117 pages is a bit much, WEF provides a key findings page. Or here’s a few infographics.

As a big picture overview, WEF enumerates the following existential risks as a kind of top-ten. In pondering this list, it is necessary to remember that this is the World Economic Forum’s report as opposed to the “World Something-Else Forum”. What might this list look like for a World Humanist Forum?

Climate changes concerns and issues takes up a considerable and leading place in the WEF’s 2022 report. In the below infographic, WEF provides global temperature scenarios for the coming 80-years. Should this inform a humanist’s priorities?


The report also provides a series of chapter-ending, what-if-styled “Shocks to Reflect Upon” that may be worth more than casual consideration:

Identifying, assessing and addressing risk is, of course, an inherently “what if” exercise. Anybody undertaking risk assessment may be vulnerable to accusations of doom-saying (or whatever term one may care to adopt) – but that des not mean that it isn’t an important exercise.

WEF also provides a “top five” risk for each national economy based executive opinion:

Canada’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
China’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
United States of America’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
Russian Federation’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
Turkey’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
Nigeria’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
India’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
Brazil’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF
Germany’s Top 5 Risks per the WEF

Noteworthy: Maybe the editor’s old eyes couldn’t find it, but there didn’t seem to be an entry for Afghanistan, Syria, in the chart of Top 5 national risks. What does that omission imply?

What Does Export Development Canada Have to Say?

Export Development Canada is a Canadian crown corporation “dedicated to helping Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage.  We equip them with the tools they need – the trade knowledge, financial solutions, equity, insurance, and connections – to grow their business with confidence. This in turn, creates jobs and increases prosperity at home.

In 2020, the EDC stated the top global risks as:

  • A prolonged COVID 19 pandemic
  • USA-China competition
  • Global protectionism
  • Rapid increase of “sovereign” debt
  • Surge in corporate debt
  • A global depression
  • American political paralysis
  • US Isolationism
  • Social unrest
  • Cyberwar

What Does the Global Challenges Foundation Have to Say?

The Global Challenges Foundation  was founded in 2012 “by the Swedish financial analyst and author Laszlo Szombatfalvy. Its goal is to stimulate ideas on how to develop new decision-making models, able to better and more equitably reduce the major global catastrophic risks that threaten humanity, or even eliminate them. The foundation’s work is made possible by a donation from Laszlo Szombatfalvy of SEK 500 million (approximately USD 53 million).

According to GCF, their mission is to “prevent, or at least reduce the probability, of a catastrophe that would cause the death of over 10% of humanity, or cause damage on a similar scale. This is known as a global catastrophic risk.” The top risks identified by this organization are:

  • climate change
  • weapons of mass destruction
  • ecological collapse
  • artificial intelligence,
  • asteroid impact
  • pandemics
  • solar geoengineering
  • supervolcanic eruption
  • unknown risks


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.farzanawahidy.com/portfolio-item/burqa/
  2. https://www.weforum.org/about/world-economic-forum
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Reset
  4. https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_Global_Risks_Report_2022.pdf
  5. https://www.edc.ca/
  6. https://globalchallenges.org/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

What Does a Humanist need to know about Humanism, Human Rights and Afghanistan in 2022?

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we locate articles and information published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The featured image is from the portfolio of Farzana Wahidy, an award-winning photographer from Afghanistan. Born in Kandahar in 1984, Wahidy moved with her family to Kabul at the age of six. She was a teenager when the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996. At age 13 she was beaten in the street for not wearing a burqa. Looking back at that moment, she stated that she wished she was a photographer at the time, able to show today’s society what it was like for young girls like herself, but photography and other forms of creative expression were banned. During the Taliban era women were forbidden from continuing their education. Hiding books under her burka so she wouldn’t get caught, she attended an underground school with about 300 other students in a residential area of Kabul, and when U.S.-led forces ended Taliban rule in 2001, she began high school. In 2007 Wahidy received a full scholarship for the two-year Photojournalism Program at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, graduating on the Dean’s List in 2009. Since 2008 Wahidy has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the Open Society Institute, National Geographic All Roads Film and Photography Program, University of Missouri and Mountain Film for her photography work.

Following is a collection of information pertaining to humanism and human rights inf Afghanistan.

What Do You Have to Say?

Do you have information or resources that would improve this article? Please submit it via our contact page.

What does Secular Underground Network Have to Say?

Based in Rotterdam, an organization going by the name Secular Underground Network was started in 2020 as an initiative of the International Association of Atheists. The group’s stated purpose is to connect atheists, agnostics, secularists, apostates and their friends to support community members in need. The group aims to provide wide-ranging assistance to the defined community from moral support and job finding resources to fleeing a dangerous situation, providing shelter, study help.


What Does the United Nations Have to Say?

December 14, 2021 – Excerpts from Humanitarian crisis threatens basic human rights

Briefing the UN Human Rights Council, Nada Al-Nashif detailed how the profound humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is threatening basic rights, with women, girls, and civil society among those most affected. 

Staff from the UN human rights office, OHCHR, remain on the ground in Afghanistan, where the economy is largely paralysed and poverty and hunger are rising. 

Ms. Al-Nashif said that as Afghans struggle to meet basic needs, they are being pushed to take desperate measures, including child labour and child marriage. News reports have also surfaced of children being sold.

Ms. Al-Nashif was also deeply concerned about the continued risk of child recruitment, particularly boys, by both ISIL-KP and the de facto authorities.  Children also continue to comprise the majority of civilians killed and injured by unexploded ordnance.

Meanwhile, women and girls face great uncertainty when it comes to respecting their rights to education, livelihoods and participation. Some 4.2 million young Afghans are already out of school, 60 per cent of them girls.   

There has also been a decline in girls’ secondary school attendance, even in provinces where the de facto authorities have permitted them to attend school.  This is largely due to the absence of women teachers, since in some locations girls are only allowed to be taught by women.

Afghan civil society has also come under attack in recent months.  Since August, at least eight activists and two journalists have been killed, and others injured, by unidentified armed men. 

The UN mission in the country, UNAMA, has documented nearly 60 apparently arbitrary detentions, beatings, and threats of activists, journalists, and staff of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, attributed to the de facto authorities. 

Several women’s rights defenders have also been threatened, and there is widespread fear of reprisals since a violent crackdown on women’s peaceful protests in September. Many media outlets have shuttered, as have numerous civil society groups.

Furthermore, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has been unable to operate since August, while the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association faces a loss of independence as the de facto authorities now administer its activities under the de facto Ministry of Justice. 

“The safety of Afghan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers – particularly women legal professionals – is a matter for particular alarm,” Ms. Al-Nashif added. “Many are currently in hiding for fear of retribution, including from convicted prisoners who were freed by the de facto authorities, notably men convicted of gender-based violence.” 

December 12, 2021 – Joint Statement: UNHCR & UN Women join efforts to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan

Kabul, 12.12.2021- UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UN Women, the UN entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women signed a letter of intent committing to strengthen their partnership to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

The complex humanitarian crisis unfolding in Af­ghanistan is marked by gender-specific restrictions that directly impact the ability of women and girls to realize their rights. Afghan women and girls face unique vulnera­bilities and risks as gender inequality is interwoven with conflict dynamics and humanitarian needs.

Recognizing how gender inequality is shaping the ongoing humanitar­ian crisis in Afghanistan, UNHCR and UN Women committed to further strengthen their partnership to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

The overall objective of UNHCR and UN Women in Afghanistan is to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations leveraging their respective leadership role in ensuring the centrality of protection, with a particular focus on addressing the specific needs of women and girls, through jointly advocating for the rights; and responding to the needs, of women and girls among refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons, and vulnerable members of host communities.

Without a gender lens the interna­tional community risks exacerbating pre-existing forms of inequality rather than creating pathways to ensuring no one is left behind. The UNHCR, UN Women partnership also strives to advance the civic, social and economic empowerment of women and girls and strengthen the evidence-base by improving sex and gender disaggregated data collection systems and gender analysis that address discriminatory gender norms.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

What Does Human Rights Watch Have to Say?

Image Courtesy of the Human Rights Watch website January 5, 2022

What Does Amnesty International Have to Say?

Excerpts from Amnesty International‘s website

Women and girls continued to face gender-based discrimination and violence throughout Afghanistan, especially in areas under Taliban control, where their rights were violated with impunity and violent “punishments” were meted out for perceived transgressions of the armed group’s interpretation of Islamic law.

Violence against women and girls remained chronically under-reported, with women often fearing reprisals and lacking confidence in the authorities if they came forward. According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), more than 100 cases of murder were reported during the year. Where these cases were reported, there was a persistent failure to investigate them. In some cases, victims of violence came under pressure from their communities or state officials to withdraw their complaints, or “mediation” was used to resolve complaints beyond the protection of the law. As a result, there was widespread impunity for the perpetrators of beatings, killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and corporal punishments.

Children continued to face harassment and sexual violence. Despite the sexual abuse of children being well-publicized, and the abusive practice of “bacha bazi” (male children being sexually abused by older men) being criminalized in 2018, the authorities made little effort to end impunity and hold perpetrators accountable.

Children lacked adequate opportunities to pursue their right to quality education. According to UNICEF, over 2 million girls remained out of school, and according to government figures about 7,000 schools in the country had no building. Large numbers of children continued to be pressed into forced labour or begging on the streets.

The conditions grew more difficult for journalists, media workers, and activists to function due to increasing insecurity and the targeted killings of activists, journalists, and moderate religious scholars. Journalists raised concerns over the lack of access to information and did not enjoy adequate protection from attacks by armed groups. The government introduced a draft mass media bill, which would have imposed further restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. It was forced to withdraw the bill in the face of widespread criticism.

Discussions were ongoing in parliament over a draft bill on public gatherings, strikes and demonstrations, which if passed would significantly restrict the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

The cabinet rejected a third draft bill on NGOs after Amnesty International raised concerns that it placed unnecessary restrictions on registration processes and operational independence.

Attacks and targeted killings against activists, human rights defenders and journalists increased. Human rights defenders continued to come under attack, facing intimidation, violence and killings. In March, government officials in Helmand province physically assaulted human rights defenders who had alleged corruption. They needed hospital treatment for their injuries. In May, Mohammad Ibrahim Ebrat, a facilitator of the Civil Society Joint Working Group, was attacked and wounded by unknown gunmen in Zabul province. He subsequently died of his injuries. In June, two staff members of the AIHRC, Fatima Khalil and Jawad Folad, were killed in an attack on their car in Kabul.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.farzanawahidy.com/portfolio-item/burqa/
  2. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/12/1107902
  3. https://www.hrw.org/asia/afghanistan
  4. https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-asia/afghanistan/report-afghanistan/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Partisan education debates limit opportunities for next generation of Kansans

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was located on Kansas Reflector. Steve Lopes is a Lawrence resident who taught technology in a suburban Boston high school and other tech schools for 15 years. He was a union organizer for Kansas-NEA for 30 years and over the past 10 years has advised progressive groups and Democrats in Douglas, Johnson and Wyandotte counties.


By Steve Lopes


As a former teacher, I strongly oppose the use of CRT in public school classrooms – but I’m not talking about critical race theory.

Steve Lopes
Steve Lopes

I’m talking about Crappy Rejection Teaching, the concerted effort of self-serving political forces to deny our students a quality objective education. Crappy Rejection Teaching has a long history of misleading students and coercing teachers to avert truth in favor of selective political agendas.

This CRT is an intentional effort by adults with weird personal agendas, usually based on dubious sources, to promote their prejudiced views at the expense of our children’s future success. They are forcing this generation, our future leaders, to accept a dumbed down curriculum and limited opportunities. We have a responsibility for teaching our children facts and truth, however uncomfortable.

This current assault on quality public education is just the latest in ongoing efforts by the ignorance lobby to promote their personal beliefs as valid, and therefore imperative for everyone.

Secular humanism

My first experience with a CRT-like assault was as a suburban Boston high school teacher in the 1970s, when our district was accused of promoting secular humanism. My teacher colleagues scratched their heads in disbelief. What is this stuff? The leader of our local teachers’ union suggested a way to respond.

We forgave our accusers and thanked them for bringing this to our attention, and after further investigation, several of us accepted this secular humanism as a meaningful personal belief.

Creationism

In the 1980s, as a field organizer for Kansas NEA, I frequently represented members facing challenges for teaching objectionable stuff. In one district, a local pastor who denied evolution, urged the school board to promote the teaching of Creationism. The biology teacher presented an evidence-based defense of evolution that persuaded the board to retain the science curriculum.

Intelligent design​

In 1999, there was a concerted effort to force the Kansas State Board of Education to include intelligent design in school science standards. In response, educators statewide organized Kansas Citizens for Science to demand evidence-based standards.

In 2005, the anti-science majority on the state board held bogus hearings during which KCFS exposed the flawed logic of intelligent design. These hearings were documented in the film “Kansas vs. Darwin.”

Additionally, KCFS efforts led to the subsequent election of a majority of board members who endorsed the scientific method.

Banning books

On Nov. 10, 2021, this Associated Press headline appeared: “Kansas District Orders 29 Books Removed From Circulation.” The Goddard school district had placed holds on this lengthy list of books in their school libraries based on a single parent objection to “language he found offensive.” The district ultimately reinstated the books.

The history of book banning to restrict learning goes back to the origin of books and continues to this day.

Now, the critical race theory scare tactics have arrived in Kansas.

Partisans have been diverting the public’s attention from developing and implementing effective solutions that address real education challenges in favor of unfounded propaganda. Recently seven local school board candidates running against the teaching of critical race theory were elected in Kansas communities.

With the state and national GOP leveraging dubious science to energize their base, the anticipated Democratic Party response has been … limited to nonexistent.

The kids are all right

How do we respond to this craziness in the absence of a countervailing force? We must ask the group with the most to lose from this craziness: our children.

I have a proposal based on my faith in Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012).

This generation, which will suffer most from this disinformation campaign, should rise and say: “STOP” on behalf of themselves and our future.

Activists at public schools and colleges could form interest groups — perhaps with names like: “Teach Us the Truth About History” — and demand evidence-based curricula in their classrooms.

If you’re a young person who agrees with this assessment, let the adults in your life know that the actions of extremists are damaging their future opportunities. Spread the word, not out of partisanship but because we all deserve to know the truth about our country and its past.

Americans have stood up to Crappy Rejection Teaching in the past. We can do it again.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://s4be.cochrane.org/blog/2014/04/29/the-evidence-based-medicine-pyramid/
  2. https://kansasreflector.com/author/stevelopes/
  3. https://evidencebased.education/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_education
  5. https://www.winginstitute.org/evidence-based-education

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Alex Coghe: Humanist and Realist at the Center of the Approach

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was located on photojournalist and photography coach Alex Coghe’s website.


By Alex Coghe

I read absurd stuff proposed on the internet.

Photographers that define themselves educators recommending to go full auto with their cameras. To each his own but then don’t come and talk to me about good photography.

Always it amazes me how many people I meet that don’t know how use their cameras manually. Let me say a thing: you are not going to take consistently great images on auto mode. If you want to express your inner voice you can’t think to rely on the compromise that your camera decides.

Now I have to clarify a thing, before being misunderstood. There are times and situation that using auto settings can be OK, but I would not recommend that all the time. And this is the reason why you should know – before anything – how to photograph in full manual.

As you know I am a photo coach and I teach to photographers from any part of the world. Many beginners coming to me have the idea to keep the ISO as low as possible and so many pretending to make street photography use most of the time Aperture priority… and I see them failing when it comes to make quick shots.

I believe that one of the greatest lessons that Joel Meyerowitz has given us is that in the street lifting the camera, aiming and shooting at the last moment is saving for street photography. I have adopted that idea completely and even a photographer like Daido Moriyama has taught us about the same.

Humanistic and realist photography requires a spontaneous-oriented approach and I have to make sure that everything is focused on that result. If I wait too long, I reveal myself. And my intention to take a picture of you. You can still have a photo but it will be a forced and most likely a not spontaneous one.

As anyone who follows me knows, my photographic attention is human-oriented. In all its facets and dimensions. I believe that photographers of my type do psychological rather than photographic work most of the time.

Carmen – 2021

Now, in the case of this portrait of Carmen, my wife, my intention to cut and focus on her eyes has prevailed. I was not looking for the beautiful portrait but the portrait with a meaning. In getting so close I wanted to make the image that I was going to gather an expressive intensity and not so much think about the compositional and aesthetic aspect.

To probe the soul and the emotions of those in front of me, through the lens and my gaze.

Emotional.

Humanist and realist.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://alexcoghe.com/portfolio/project-one-z9zrg
  2. https://alexcoghe.com/journal/humanist-and-realist-at-the-center-of-the-approach

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Ryan Hewett: H+ Exhibit

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following press release was located on the UTA Artis Space website and is shared with HumanistFreedoms.com readers as a service. See that site for some fascinating images.

OPENING RECEPTION: Tuesday, December 7, 6-8PM 
(Beverly Hills, CA – December 2, 2021) UTA Artist Space and Unit London are excited to announce a solo exhibition of new works by South African artist Ryan Hewett, on view at UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles from December 7 – 18, 2021.

A natural progression from his previous exhibitions, Hewett’s latest solo show is entitled H+. Standing for human advancement, H+ explores the ideas and philosophies of trans-humanism. As a social and ideological movement, trans-humanism is devoted to advocating the research and development of human advancement technologies. H+ seeks to represent visually how these technologies might augment human sensory reception, emotional ability and cognitive capacity, leading to radical improvements in human health and extended lifespans. In line with these concepts, Hewett’s exhibition presents a series of hybridized portraits, figurative works and landscapes that hover on the boundary between the human and what the artist defines as the humanoid. In this sense, H+ uncovers the juxtaposition between the natural environment we live in and a possible futuristic society.

On a formal level, H+ demonstrates Hewett’s progressing artistic practice, which is equally hybrid in nature, combining textured and fluid brushwork with taut geometric shapes and lines. Certain pieces, such as H1, H2, and H3, are born completely from his imagination. However, in some instances, Hewett turns to archives of images and photographic aids for inspiration, using many different references from multiple sources to create his artworks. As a result, each piece becomes an amalgam or a composite that unfolds intuitively onto the canvas without preconceived ideas or planning. It seems that the artist’s own artistic process mirrors the concepts that have inspired H+. Hewett’s fluid and unpredictable imagination fuses with the use of tangible photographic sources. Free and expressive brushstrokes contrast with rigid forms. In this sense, H+ blends the natural, organic and the unplanned with something altogether more detailed, orderly and meticulous.

In juxtaposing these natural forms with geometric contours and straight lines, Hewett symbolizes a trans-humanist outlook, which seeks to advance human life through technological means. At times, his futuristic and imagined characters are inserted into the natural world, with organic forms, such as clouded skies or fluid congregations of expressive brushwork, appearing as the backdrops of these artworks. At others, these figures sit in front of tightly wrought geometric backgrounds. As such, Hewett seeks to underline the harmony that could exist between the technological and the organic. Equally, H+ emphasizes that we ultimately cannot know what the future holds and how this concept of trans-humanism might unfold in our day-to-day lives. In this sense, Hewett’s exhibition begins to explore how the natural world could balance against man-made technologies and how human beings might be able to live with humanoids.

“Ryan is one of the most sought-after artists working right now, especially here in Los Angeles where he has many dedicated collectors. We are incredibly excited to work with Unit London to show Ryan’s newest paintings; it is a rare opportunity for us to see the extraordinary, innate talent he possesses,” said Arthur Lewis, UTA Fine Arts Creative Director. 

ABOUT RYAN HEWETT
Born in 1979 and described by critic and curator Edward Lucie-Smith as ‘one of South Africa’s most distinguished painters today’, Ryan Hewett is renowned for his brooding and evocative paintings. Yet his portraits are not about capturing an external likeness of a subject, but rather creating a portal to the inner journey of self-exploration. In so doing, the artist relies principally on the intuitive processes of memory and imagination.

Using a variety of oil painting techniques, from brushes to knives, Hewett’s extensive knowledge draws on renowned movements within art history. His structured forms and psychedelic colors allude to Cubist portraits and Surrealist landscapes, while his body-length portraits recall Renaissance medical diagrams of the human anatomy.

Hewett has exhibited extensively in art fairs, group and solo exhibitions in major cities around the world. His most recent institutional exhibition took place at The Goss Michael Foundation in Dallas in 2019. His work can be found in various international private and public collections, including the Goss Michael Foundation, Fine Art Centre, Taiwan, The Recharge Foundation, Emergentes Art Foundation and the Dean Collection, to name a few.

ABOUT UTA ARTIST SPACE
UTA Artist Space is an exhibition venue designed by Ai Weiwei in the heart of Beverly Hills that is committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. Since its establishment in 2016, UTA Artist Space has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including Derrick Adams, Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Essence Harden, Larry Clark, Petra Cortright, Conrad Egyir, Amanda Hunt, Mariane Ibrahim, Arcmanoro Niles, The Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery, The Haas Brothers, and Ai Weiwei, among others. UTAArtistSpace.com.

ABOUT UNIT LONDON
Since the brand’s inception in 2013, Unit London has established a global artistic platform for the world’s most distinctive emerging talent. In an often opaque and impenetrable art world, Unit London seeks to identify, cultivate, and expose works of art on a purely meritocratic basis. The gallery has successfully launched and advanced the careers of numerous important contemporary artists and remains a bastion of equity, innovation, and sustainability. Unit London prides itself on being an open and transparent institution whose purpose is to expand and diversify contemporary art audiences. In its reluctance to simply follow the traditional gallery formula, Unit London has become synonymous with the pioneering use of social media and digital marketing. The gallery endeavors to act as an orator and mediator: telling the story of today’s most gifted artists, whilst bridging the gap between the physical and virtual spheres of the art world; connecting people with the art they love.

COVID-19 SAFETY 
All visitors will have to acknowledge both the health and safety guidelines and their health status before they visit. All visitors must wear a mask at all times. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available on site for guest usage. Guests must practice social distancing. There is ample signage throughout the space including arrows on the floor that tell guests which way foot traffic is flowing. Restrooms will be closed to guests and the Artist Space will be deep cleaned on a regular schedule following the close of business each day.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: http://utaartistspace.com/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Mubarak Bala – Nigerian Humanist Held Prisoner Since April 2020

By: Lynda Tilley

In April 2020, Humanists worldwide were shocked to learn of the arrest of Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. Mubarak is well known in Africa and was active on social media, which is where most African Humanists “meet”. It’s safer that way, as in each of our countries we are judged for turning our backs on religion and in several countries we face the death sentence for being openly Irreligious.

It was a post Mubarak made on Facebook, speaking out against Prophet Muhammed that led to his arrest. It was seen to be “blasphemous”, and “blasphemy” is considered a crime in Nigeria – punishable for up to 2 years under Customary Law (which is practiced throughout all Nigerian States) and by death under Shari’a Law (any State has the power to establish their own courts under Shari’a Law, especially if the accused is Muslim.)

Mubarak’s father’s role in his arrest

Mubarak first made news in 2014 when his father, Muhammed Bala, forcibly had him drugged and admitted to a mental ward for denouncing Islam and declaring he was an Atheist. (Atheism is viewed as a ‘mental illness’ by some.)  But thanks to the worldwide Humanist community and a hospital strike, he was discharged.

His father is a ‘respected’ Islamic scholar and his son’s Atheism supposedly brought unforgivable “shame and dishonour” on his family. It is widely accepted amongst African Humanists and those close to Mubarak personally, that his father is behind his recent arrest and prolonged imprisonment – despite him being a devout and ‘respected’ follower of the so called “Religion of Peace”. 

Nigeria’s Constitution guarantees “the rights of “freedom of thought, expression & religion” so the fact that “blasphemy” is considered a crime, violates International Human Rights terms, which are protected by all major Human Rights agreements, which Nigeria is signatory to.

Continued Human Rights abuses

For the first 5 months after his arrest, aside from being told that he’d been transferred to the Muslim State of Kano, (a State renowned for its practice of Shar’ia Law) nobody knew exactly where he was, or even if he were still alive.  

His wife, Amina Ahmed, had just given birth to their first child, a son, 6 weeks prior to his disappearance and was distraught – pleading publically in national media for “Proof of Life”. Dr Leo Igwe, personal friend of Mubarak’s and also a renowned Nigerian Human Rights Advocate and founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, spearheaded the campaign to raise awareness for Mubarak’s plight and Humanists around the world gave Nigeria their support.

A person must be charged within 24 hours of their arrest, or otherwise released, but (as was found out much later) Mubarak was only formally detained the following month, and without legal counsel or appearing in court was formally charged under Customary Law for 10 “public disturbances caused in relation to 5 Facebook posts” which falls under Nigeria’s ‘Cybercrimes Act’.

Mubarak’s legal team were denied any contact with him until almost 6 months after his arrest, when only 1 lawyer was allowed to briefly see him – to date this is the only meeting he’s been allowed with his lawyer in the 19 months he’s been held.

In the interim, his lawyers filed a petition to enforce his Fundamental Rights, which according to the law, is a matter of urgency and must be heard within 7 days – it was heard after 164 days and it was determined that he was being illegally detained which was a gross violation of his Human Rights.

In view of this, the Abuja Federal High Court (which is in the predominantly Christian Kaduna State, operating under Customary Law) ordered his immediate release in December 2020. To date, this order of the High Court has been ignored.

African Humanist groups unite to support Nigeria

In the interim, Humanists around the world have continued their support and African Humanists have joined together online to support Nigeria, all who had never ‘met’ before. The ironic thing is that by silencing one Humanist, so many more have spoken out and are now united in a way they were never before.

We have individual Humanists as well as groups from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya who have now all connected and are in almost daily contact – sharing the trials we face in each of our countries, discussing things which relate to us all – like Human Rights, overhauling Africa’s outdated school education system and introducing Critical Thinking and a more Science based approach to learning and working towards a Secular Africa where religion plays no part in our schools or governments. 

We are gaining strength from each other and some countries are speaking to each other for the first time – all thanks to Mubarak Bala, yet he doesn’t even know it !

Mubarak’s lawyers filed a 2nd Fundamental Rights Petition in January this year, (to be held urgently within 7 days, by law) – 11 months have since passed. Court dates are set and then typically postponed 2 to 3 times with reasons like “the judge is in ill health” being given. 

The next court date is in December, and Mubarak has not attended any of them so far.

He has a chronic condition and since the day of his arrest, has been denied his daily chronic medication and access to a Doctor, even when he was very sick a few months ago. He was told he was “faking it to try and escape”.

This is in violation of the United Nations “Minimum Rules For Prisoners Act” but despite requests and his lawyers following the legal process to request this, nothing has yet been done.  

Despite not being allowed visitors, it was hoped that he would be allowed to see his wife and son before the end of the year, but that was refused. His son turns 2 early next year and he is growing up without even knowing his father and being raised alone by his strong yet heartbroken mother, who has been in her own personal prison almost 2 years now, too.

In September, 4 Human Rights lawyers wrote a letter to Nigeria’s President Buhari and published it in national newspapers, giving the facts of the case and asked, once again, for him to be transferred to a prison in Abuja, Kaduna State (where he stands a better chance of having a fair trial), to treat the second Fundamental Rights case as the emergency that it is and to restore his rights as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution.

To date, there has been no response. 

Those who hold him are reportedly pleased that (especially since he is an avid reader and writer) Mubarak is denied reading and writing material and “has been silenced and can no longer poison people’s minds with evil lies from the West”. 

His supporters, upon learning this, along with his wife, decided to publish a series of quotes taken from his speeches, interviews, newspaper articles and writing when he was still a free man – so that his words and his truths are never silenced and to show that by silencing his voice, many others have lent theirs in its place.

Please help us to keep Mubarak’s case in the spotlight !

A quote is posted each day on our Facebook campaign page and is forwarded worldwide from there – some have been printed in newsletters as far away as New Zealand, as his silenced voice now reaches around the world !

It’s been 19 months since his arrest but we will never give up on him. We ask the worldwide Humanist community to please continue their support – our African governments take much more notice when there is international interest in a case like this and we need to show them that Mubarak will never be forgotten.

Our Facebook page (no membership necessary, it’s open to all) is “Free Mubarak Bala” and Humanists International website, which publishes regular updates, can be viewed here.

We’re in the process of launching a website in Mubarak’s name, to reach a wider global audience and it has the input of Humanists from across Africa. This will hopefully be live sometime in December – to be announced on our Facebook page.

Please visit, “like” and share the above, publish or re post articles about his case, put pressure on your own governments by writing to them to request his release and let fellow Humanists in your communities know of his plight – every single action, no matter how small, will help to put unwelcome pressure on Nigeria and to eventually secure his release !


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of www.musingsfromafrica.com
  2. https://www.freebalamubarak.org/
  3. https://humanists.international/case-of-concern/mubarak-bala/
  4. https://m.facebook.com/Free-Mubarak-Bala-101783545589066/
  5. http://saharareporters.com/2021/09/23/lawyers-write-buhari-over-17-month-illegal-detention-outspoken-atheist-bala-alleged
  6. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Igwe
  7. https://nigerian-constitution.com/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Politics and Humanism in Malawi: Wonderful Mkhutche

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was located on Malawi24 and Africa Press.


By: Chisomo Phiri 

Political scientist and writer Wonderful Mkhutche has written a book on humanism and politics in Malawi which he says will help people understand how issues of humanism affect politics.

Speaking in an interview, Mkhutche said the book, ‘Humanism and Politics Short Essays’, seeks to provide deep understanding on how politics affects humanism and in turn how the humanism affects politics so as for people to grow in religious beliefs and at the same time practicing politics well in the societies.

“Through this book, I want to do two things. First of all, help the readers understand how issues of humanism affect politics and vice versa. Secondly, to provide alternative ways on how best to grow in spiritual life as well as practice politics in a good manner,” said Mkhutche.

Mkhutche said the book is currently receiving positive feedbacks from readers who say it is a helpful book that will transform people’s lives politically and spiritually.

“It is quite interesting that people are now appreciating this book saying it is a very important book in life. To me this is an achievement and I feel myself to be a great of today and tomorrow. No matter how it gets to me, this is an achievement and the work of spreading knowledge and ideas is now on track”, he said.

The writer further said there were so many challenges that were chocking him in his journey of coming up with the book but he still never gave up. One challenge he mentioned was how to manage his other duties and at the same time concentrate on the book.

“Another challenge was about generating ideas on humanism topics since this is uncommon thing in Malawi and many people oppose them. You have to take time to present ideas that can persuade readers,”, he said.

Mkhutche then said government needs to promote reading culture by giving an opportunity to budding writers to have space in book promotions and publications saying this is an expensive task to be done by the writers alone.

Comment on the book, Edgar Kapiza Bayani said the book is a very important book if one wants to understand politics and humanism in Malawi. The ‘Humanism and Politics Short Essays’book will be launched this month at Mzuzu University in Mzuzu. Apart from ‘ Humanism and Politics in Malawi” book, Mkhutche has also written other several books including a biography of musician Lucius Banda


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:  http://malawi24.com/2021/11/15/political-scientist-mkhutche-writes-book-on-humanism-and-politics-in-malawi/
  2. http://malawi24.com/2021/11/15/political-scientist-mkhutche-writes-book-on-humanism-and-politics-in-malawi/
  3. https://mkhutchewonderful.wordpress.com/author/mkhutche/
  4. https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/policy-campaigns/malawi/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Henry Beissel Poetry Reading

Saturday, December 11, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

With the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Writers’ Union of Canada, Humanist Ottawa hosts this afternoon selected readings from the works of Henry Beissel, award-winning poet, playwright, essayist, translator and editor. Henry is a past winner of the Ottawa Book Award for his book of poetry, “Footprints of Dark Energy”.

The title poem of this collection takes us on an epic journey across past and present historical events and through spaces defined by the natural sciences, as it explores the challenges of being human in these troubled times. It is accompanied by a gathering of shorter poems that confront the dark forces in our world as they struggle for the light at the end of the tunnel. In stark imagery, these poems turn words into music to celebrate the anguish and the glory of being alive.

Henry Beissel is author/editor of 44 published books. Among his 22 collections of poetry are his epic “Seasons of Blood” and the lyrical “Stones to Harvest” as well as his celebration of Canada in “Cantos North” and the 364 haiku in “What if Zen Gardens …”. He lives in Ottawa with his wife Arlette Francière, the artist and literary translator.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqc-isqTMqG9SJkkLWOIGiZ-sAHsoNSjqf

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Humanism In The Digital Age: The Urban Contribution Online Conference

Critical thinking about the social impacts of technology is becoming urgent, particularly in a scenario of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and algorithmic automation. Global digitalisation continues to widen the inequality gap as well as the digital divide, as digitalisation is not happening equally all over the world.

The event aims to explore how to build a digital transition that does not leave anyone behind, protects and reinforces human rights in the digital age, and places both people and the planet at the centre of the technological deployment.

It will assemble top-leading thinkers and doers who will discuss, identify, and address the challenges our societies are facing from a human-centred technological perspective, through themes such as Digital Inclusion, Ethical Artificial Intelligence and Digital rights.

When
Monday, November 15th
9:30 h – 18:30 h CET

Where
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona.

REGISTRATION

The event will take place in Barcelona on November 15th and it will also be streamed online. Please select below the registration option you prefer. Registration for the in person and online modalities is free.

All sessions will have simultaneous translation in Spanish, Catalan and English.

In case you have already registered and need to do a modification, please click on ‘View/Edit your registration’.