Fourth attack on Ugandan humanist
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is appealing for donations to its Human Rights Defence fund after humanist activist Kato Mukasa was targeted for the fourth time this year.
In announcing that IHEU is making a grant to ensure Kato’s security, the organisation detailed a campaign of violence and intimidation he and colleagues have been subjected to.
Following two incidents (an intimidating act of vandalism, then a burglary) in June and July at his Kampala office, where the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equality and Accountability (HALEA) is based, as well as a personal attack on a staff member at their home, Kato was then awoken in the middle of the night on October 30.
Unknown assailants had set fire to his car. It blazed outside his home, nearly setting the building on fire. Only with the help of neighbours was the property saved (though not the car!)
IHEU President Sonja Eggerickx, said:
Given the intimidating attack in June and the burglary in July, as well as the recent work by Kato on sensitive – and entirely legitimate and necessary – human rights topics, this incident looks very much like an act of targeted intimidation. T
There was no attempt at burglary, only malicious arson. Speaking with local people, independent persons, and the humanist organization on the ground, we believe this malicious act was most likely aimed at chilling Kato’s work as a humanist, for humanist organizations, on moral and human rights issues which would benefit all of society.
The HRD fund is used to support the work of victims of religious intolerance, for specific individuals and to support sensitive work on human rights.
After the arson attack, Kato said:
I worry for my family … However, I will continue working for humanism, doing my job at HALEA, more determined than ever. Regardless of the hate and persecutions, our struggle to empower the minds of our people should continue, whether I am around or not.
In response to attacks on fellow humanists and human rights defenders, IHEU insists:
We must stand up, refuse to be intimidated, and demonstrate our solidarity. IHEU urges humanists to give now to the Human Rights Defence fund, so that campaigners and activists like Kato, and some of the hardest working humanists in the most difficult situations, can be given urgent support when times turn hazardous, for their personal safety and for the continuation of vital humanist activities.
Mukasa recently visited the UK to attend attend the World Humanist Congress in the summer and used his time in the country to cement relationships with various humanist groups – such as London Black Atheists – and individual human rights activists such as Peter Tatchell.
John Dowdle emailed me today to say that Jeannie and Pratap Mehta were kind enough to provide a home base for Kato in Abbots Langley.
From there we were able to arrange for him to meet up with local humanist celebrants, as well as with people at the BHA Head Office – where he met the national organiser of humanist celebrants and student members of the Atheist Humanist and Secular Society.
We arranged for Kato to attend a lecture at Conway Hall – who agreed to ship out books on humanism to Kato in Uganda – and we also enabled Kato meeting up with humanists in Scotland.
All in all, we were able to make his three-day stay with us highly productive, providing a substantive basis for his humanist activities in Uganda and other areas of Africa.
After learning of thiis latest attack, Watford Area Humanists arranged a £50.00 donation for Kato through the IHEU link. Can you please make a donation too of whatever amount you may be able to afford?
Kato responded with the following message:
I am extremely grateful. My thanks to you and the members who are joining hands to send me support and IHEU is the best channel to go through.
Once I have some money, yes, I will have to get a CCTV camera and a guard.
Thanks so much for these ideas, I have gone through some tough times in the recent days but I will overcome.
Good enough I and my family are still alive.
There is a donation button on the IHEU site which enables one to make a payment via Paypal.