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Casework Resources

Humanists International works to support individuals who face direct persecution as a result of their humanist beliefs or identity.

We take our work to support humanists seriously. Humanists International is a small team with limited resources to help. To ensure that the support you receive is of the highest quality that we have to offer, we have to limit the numbers of individuals we support at any one time.

If you think you meet our minimum criteria and would benefit from our assistance, please download, complete and return our Individual Case Application Form.

As a result we are not able to support all of the legitimate requests for support we receive. While we are unable to help you, there may be others who can. Below you will find information on a whole range of topics and organizations that may be able to help:

Other organizations supporting the non-religious

  • We have hundreds of Member and Associate organizations across the globe, who may be able to provide you with advice and support in your time of need. You can find them here: https://humanists.international/about/our-members/
  • Secular Rescue – is a program of the Center for Inquiry designed to provide emergency assistance to writers, bloggers, publishers, and activists who face threats due to their beliefs or expressions regarding religion.
  • Atheists in Turkey – provide support to non-religious individuals seeking asylum in Turkey.

Security & Wellbeing

Physical safety and security

  • Protect Defenders – The European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism provides a range of support to human rights defenders across the globe, including a 24hr help desk, emergency grants and temporary relocation. They also provide capacity building.
  • Front Line Defenders – Front Line Defenders provides rapid and practical support to human rights defenders at risk through international advocacy, grants to pay for the practical security needs, trainings and resource materials on security and protection, including digital security, and an emergency 24-hour phone line for human rights defenders operating in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, among other resources.
  • Protection International – an international NGO specialising in capacity building of individuals and organizations in protection has developed a range of useful toolkits available in several languages.
  • CPJ Journalists Security Guide
  • ARC – Safety Guide for Artists – offers a comprehensive guide to security for individuals working in creative industries who face persecution for their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. While designed with artists in mind, the recommendations on steps for personal protection are useful for others facing persecution.
  • DefendDefenders – seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders supports at-risk human rights defenders (HRDs) through short and long-term security interventions, and equip HRDs with crucial tools to mitigate their risks of persecution and to ensure their well-being. DefendDefenders works in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Digital Security

For many of us in the non-religious community, we are aware that posting online can expose us to particular risk of threats, attack or arrest. Online activists/human rights defenders are easy to track online. Some brilliant people work on minimizing the dangers of your online presence by sharing their knowledge on how to take precautions. They give you tools and tactics for your digital security.

  • Frontline Defenders on Digital Security and Privacy – a compilation of resources on digital security targeted at human rights defenders.
  • Me and my Shadow
  • Security in a Box – is a fantastic resource, which compiles advice and tactics for digital security on a range of issues, including step-by-step instructions
  • Tactical Tech: Digital Security for HRD/Activists
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation – champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. They have produced a guide to ‘Surveillance self defence.’
  • Digital Security tutorials by Justice and Peace
  • Access Now – Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline offers real-time, direct technical assistance and advice to civil society groups & activists, media organizations, journalists & bloggers, and human rights defenders around the world to keep them safe online.
  • DefendDefenders – seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders supports at-risk human rights defenders (HRDs) through short and long-term security interventions, and equip HRDs with crucial tools to mitigate their risks of persecution and to ensure their well-being. DefendDefenders works in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Psychosocial support

  • Faithless Hijabi – works to support Muslim women who are questioning their faith or those who have chosen to leave Islam by providing for them a safe space to explore their new freedom and build new understandings. They sponsor 8 therapy sessions per referral with qualified specialists; after 8 sessions their clients are free to continue with the therapists as they require on a private basis. The therapists are specially trained to work with apostates and also undergo supervised sessions by an external therapist.
  • Front Line Defenders – offers rest, respite and other opportunities for human rights defenders dealing with extreme stress.
  • Faith to Faithless – set up to raise awareness of apostasy and support those in the UK who struggle leaving religion.
  • Mosaic MENA – provide psychological well-being support to members of the LGBTI+ community in Lebanon and the wider MENA region.

Relocation

Many of those who reach out to us are seeking assistance to relocate abroad and seek asylum. In some cases, this may be necessary to ensure your safety. However, often relocating for a short period of time, or relocating within your country may actually be a better option.

Relocating internally, may allow you to start again in a place where you are less known where you can maintain a low profile, while also enabling you to settle in more easily. It is often easier to find employment in your home country, for instance. Unfortunately, keeping a low profile and concealing one’s beliefs is one of the best ways to keep safe for many of us across the globe

The below international organizations offer opportunities for relocation abroad. The majority of these opportunities are temporary in duration, ranging from 3 months to two years. Few organizations are in a position to help someone relocate permanently with more than the provision of funding (see ‘Grants’ for more information).

  • Secular Rescue – is a program of the Center for Inquiry designed to provide emergency assistance to writers, bloggers, publishers, and activists who face threats due to their beliefs or expressions regarding religion.
  • Rainbow Railroad – helps LGBTQI+ people who face violence and oppression simply because of who they love or who they are get to safety.
  • Protect Defenders – The European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism provides a range of support to human rights defenders across the globe, including a 24hr help desk, emergency grants and temporary relocation. They also provide capacity building.
  • Scholars at Risk – protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions in our network as well as by providing advisory and referral services.
  • CARA – the Council for At-Risk Academic provides urgently-needed help to academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and many who choose to work on in their home countries despite serious risks. Cara also supports higher education institutions whose work is at risk or compromised.
  • Front Line Defenders – Front Line Defenders provides rapid and practical support to human rights defenders at risk through international advocacy, grants to pay for the practical security needs, trainings and resource materials on security and protection, including digital security, and an emergency 24-hour phone line for human rights defenders operating in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, among other resources.
  • ICORN – The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.
  • Artistic Freedom Initiative – comprised of human rights activists, lawyers, academics, and artists working together to promote artistic freedom and peaceful dialogue through art directly assists artists whose freedom of expression has been restricted and supports artists who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing progressive social change and fundamental human rights. Their legal services, resettlement, and advocacy programs are designed with these specific goals in mind.
  • On the Move – provides resources for artists and arts workers at all stages of their careers with a view to facilitate their work internationally.
  • Justice and Peace, Shelter Cities – Each Shelter City comprises a local network of organizations and citizens that offer human rights defenders a safe and inspiring stay for three months. The placements include tailored training opportunities. Currently, there are a total of 20 local Shelter Cities in the Netherlands, Georgia, Tanzania, Benin, Costa Rica, Nepal and the United Kingdom.
  • African Defenders – runs the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative, designed to support human rights defenders at risk with the opportunity to temporarily relocate.
  • York Centre for Applied Human Rights – Protective Fellowship Scheme offers ordinarily a sixth-month Fellowship for human rights defenders at the University of York, where Fellows engage in human rights research, develop their research capacity, and engage in learning and teaching. During this time, they will also conduct advocacy to further their work; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe; and share their work with the general public. The scheme runs annually from September until March.
  • Talent Without Boundaries – a nonprofit organization committed to opening labor mobility pathways for refugees and other displaced people. TBB does not work on refugee resettlement but rather connects refugees with international employment opportunities so that they may work in countries where they can access full rights and stability.

 

Asylum

Many of the requests we receive are from non-religious individuals living closeted lives in highly religious societies where they cannot speak openly. While we would say you should not have to live in a situation where you are forced to be secret and silent about your views, it is unfortunately very difficult to claim asylum abroad in such situations.

In theory, countries should take into account that you have the right to freedom of thought and expression, and that currently you cannot exercise those rights. However, it can be difficult to provide enough evidence to prove that you have a “well-founded fear of persecution”.

If you have not already, we recommend that you keep a record of any threats that you receive, and consider reporting them to the police to obtain a police report, which can also be used as evidence in an asylum claim. Other documents, such as hospital reports can also serve as useful evidence.

Asylum processes vary depending on the country, however, in all circumstances you should seek to claim asylum at the earliest opportunity. You can do this by speaking with a border agent or going to a local UNHCR office to register, where possible. More information on the process of claiming asylum is available here: https://help.unhcr.org/faq/

Useful information on the Dublin Agreement, which operates across most of Europe, can be found here: https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/25622/the-dublin-regulation–your-questions-answered

An alternative to travelling abroad and claiming asylum can be relocating within your country. This is often one of the best ways of keeping oneself safe in our community. It may also mean you are more able to assimilate as you speak the language, understand the customs and may find it easier to secure employment.

Grants

When applying for an emergency grant, it is always best to have a clear idea of a budget, based on realistic estimates. Most of these funds are limited or one-off, so it is important that you consider what the essential costs you have to cover are and the duration for which you will need for them to be covered. Few organizations offer long term financial support; many will seek to know what your longer-term plan to support yourself will be.

  • Secular Rescue – is a program of the Center for Inquiry designed to provide emergency assistance to writers, bloggers, publishers, and activists who face threats due to their beliefs or expressions regarding religion.
  • Protect Defenders – The European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism provides a range of support to human rights defenders across the globe, including a 24hr help desk, emergency grants and temporary relocation. They also provide capacity building.
  • Scholars Rescue Fund – IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) provides fellowships for established professors, researchers and public intellectuals whose lives or careers are threatened in their home countries. They provide a safe haven for writers at academic institutions around the world for 1-2 years. Applications are received on a rolling basis and are considered at three different times throughout the year. Application instructions can be found in Arabic, Persian, French, and Spanish.
  • Artist Protection Fund – The Artist Protection Fund (APF) is an initiative of the Institute of International Education, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The APF makes fellowship grants to threatened artists from any field of practice, and places them at host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their futures.
  • PEN Emergency Fund: The PEN Emergency Fund provides small one-off grants to writers who are being persecuted for their use of the written word. To apply, you should reach out to PEN International: www.pen-international.org
  • Urgent Action Fund – The UAF’s Rapid Response Grants offer quick, flexible funding to respond to security threats or unexpected advocacy opportunities experienced by women, transgender, or gender non-conforming, activists and human rights defenders.
  • MADRE – fund emergency relocation and legal aid to organizations and women activists under threat and requiring urgent assistance.
  • Prisoners of Conscience Fund – provide financial and practical support to help human rights defenders rebuild their lives in dignity and continue standing up for what they believe in.
  • Rory Peck Trust – The RPT’s Assistance Grants are for professional freelance journalists (and/or their families) who are facing a crisis directly related to their work. They include grants to cover: therapy, legal fees, general subsistence costs.
  • Committee to Protect Journalists – dispenses emergency grants to journalists in distress worldwide. CPJ does not provide funding for organizations, media outlets, or media projects, and we do not offer professional training or scholarships.
  • Reporters Without Borders – provides financial and administrative assistance to professional journalists and citizen-journalists who have been the victims of reprisals because of their reporting.
  • DefendDefenders – seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders works in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Organizations dedicated to supporting human rights defenders, including journalists

According to the UN definitions, you are a human rights defender (HRD) if you, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner.

Human rights defenders seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

Human rights defenders are identified above all by what they do (for a list, please see the UN OHCHR’s website).

One of the best places to go should you be a human rights defender in need of assistance is Protect Defenders. A European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism, Protect Defenders, provides a range of support to human rights defenders across the globe, including a 24hr help desk, emergency grants and temporary relocation. They also provide capacity building.

Training & skills development

  • Front Line Defenders – Front Line Defenders provides rapid and practical support to human rights defenders at risk through international advocacy, grants to pay for the practical security needs, trainings and resource materials on security and protection, including digital security, and an emergency 24-hour phone line for human rights defenders operating in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish, among other resources.
  • Protection International – an international non-profit organization that supports human rights defenders in developing their security and protection management strategies.
  • FORUM-ASIA – works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. This includes emergency support to those at risk.
  • DefendDefenders – seeks to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout the region by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights. DefendDefenders works in Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia (together with Somaliland), South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Grants

  • Prisoners of Conscience Fund – provide financial and practical support to help human rights defenders rebuild their lives in dignity and continue standing up for what they believe in.
  • Front Line Defenders (see above)
  • PEN Emergency Fund: The PEN Emergency Fund provides small one-off grants to writers who are being persecuted for their use of the written word. To apply, you should reach out to PEN International: www.pen-international.org
  • Rory Peck Trust – The RPT’s Assistance Grants are for professional freelance journalists (and/or their families) who are facing a crisis directly related to their work. They include grants to cover: therapy, legal fees, general subsistence costs.
  • Committee to Protect Journalists – dispenses emergency grants to journalists in distress worldwide. CPJ does not provide funding for organizations, media outlets, or media projects, and we do not offer professional training or scholarships.
  • Journalists in Distress Network – a coalition of 18 organizations who coordinate to support journalists at risk. Members include Front Line Defenders, PEN, the Rory Peck Trust and CPJ. Applications are made through a member organization.
  • Reporters Without Borders – provides financial and administrative assistance to professional journalists and citizen-journalists who have been the victims of reprisals because of their reporting.
  • DefendDefenders (see above)

Temporary relocation

  • Protect Defenders (see above)
  • Justice and Peace, Shelter Cities – Each Shelter City comprises a local network of organizations and citizens that offer human rights defenders a safe and inspiring stay for three months. The placements include tailored training opportunities. Currently, there are a total of 20 local Shelter Cities in the Netherlands, Georgia, Tanzania, Benin, Costa Rica, Nepal and the United Kingdom.
  • ICORN – The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.
  • Scholars at Risk – protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions in our network as well as by providing advisory and referral services.
  • CARA – the Council for At-Risk Academic provides urgently-needed help to academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and many who choose to work on in their home countries despite serious risks. Cara also supports higher education institutions whose work is at risk or compromised.
  • African Defenders – runs the Ubuntu Hub Cities initiative, designed to support human rights defenders at risk with the opportunity to temporarily relocate.
  • York Centre for Applied Human Rights – Protective Fellowship Scheme offers ordinarily a sixth-month Fellowship for human rights defenders at the University of York, where Fellows engage in human rights research, develop their research capacity, and engage in learning and teaching. During this time, they will also conduct advocacy to further their work; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe; and share their work with the general public. The scheme runs annually from September until March.

Advocacy & legal support

  • Reporters Without Borders – Documents and advocates on behalf of journalists who face reprisals due to their reporting. Their emergency grants can be used to cover legal fees associated with this persecution.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists – CPJ denounces press freedom violations, meets with heads of state and high-ranking officials, and spearheads or advises on diplomatic efforts.
  • Media Defence – provides legal help to journalists, citizen journalists and independent media across the world.
  • FORUM-ASIA – runs a dedicated human rights defenders program, committed to the creation of an enabling work environment for human rights defenders, including woman human rights defenders, by reducing both actual and perceived threats stemming from their work and activities. This includes emergency support to those at risk.

Organizations working to support writers, artists and cultural actors

If you are a writer, artist or cultural actor facing persecution, one of the best resources you can go to is ARC – Artists at Risk Connection, which hosts a comprehensive database of programmes dedicated to assisting you. You can also visit: http://www.artistsafety.net/. However, below you will find a few of the key groups that provide support in the forms of temporary relocation, emergency grants, and campaigning.

Temporary relocation

  • ICORN – The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.
  • Safemuse – provide persecuted artists and artists at risk a safe place to stay and develop their art.
  • Artistic Freedom Initiative – comprised of human rights activists, lawyers, academics, and artists working together to promote artistic freedom and peaceful dialogue through art directly assists artists whose freedom of expression has been restricted and supports artists who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing progressive social change and fundamental human rights. Their legal services, resettlement, and advocacy programs are designed with these specific goals in mind.
  • On the Move – provides resources for artists and arts workers at all stages of their careers with a view to facilitate their work internationally.

Grants

  • Artist Protection Fund – The Artist Protection Fund (APF) is an initiative of the Institute of International Education, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The APF makes fellowship grants to threatened artists from any field of practice, and places them at host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their futures.
  • PEN Emergency Fund: The PEN Emergency Fund provides small one-off grants to writers who are being persecuted for their use of the written word. To apply, you should reach out to PEN International: www.pen-international.org
  • FRC – Roberto Cimetta Fund for Arts Mobility in the Mediterranean – an international non-profit making organisation created in 1999 to respond rapidly and directly to individual artists and cultural managers wishing to travel in order to develop contemporary artistic cooperation projects in the Euro-Arab geographical zone and beyond.
  • Alexia Foundation – Through grants, scholarships and special projects, The Alexia promotes the power of visual storytelling to shed light on significant issues around the world; supports photographers, filmmakers and other visual creatives as agents for change; and to understand cultural difference as our strength.

Campaigning & advocacy

There are lots of organisations out there ready to help:

Organizations supporting academics and students

Temporary relocation

  • Scholars at Risk – protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions in our network as well as by providing advisory and referral services.
  • CARA – the Council for At-Risk Academic provides urgently-needed help to academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and many who choose to work on in their home countries despite serious risks. Cara also supports higher education institutions whose work is at risk or compromised.
  • York Centre for Applied Human Rights – Protective Fellowship Scheme offers ordinarily a sixth-month Fellowship for human rights defenders at the University of York, where Fellows engage in human rights research, develop their research capacity, and engage in learning and teaching. During this time, they will also conduct advocacy to further their work; expand their networks of contacts in the United Kingdom and Europe; and share their work with the general public. The scheme runs annually from September until March.
  • Scholarships for Development – lists scholarships for international students, specifically for people from developing countries, people who would like to pursue development-related fields, and people who seek global and national development through further education. Among their listings are free universities.

Funding

  • SCHOLAR RESCUE FUND – IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) provides fellowships for established professors, researchers and public intellectuals whose lives or careers are threatened in their home countries. They provide a safe haven for writers at academic institutions around the world for 1-2 years. Applications are received on a rolling basis and are considered at three different times throughout the year. Application instructions can be found in Arabic, Persian, French, and Spanish.

Organizations supporting members of the LGBTI+ community

ILGA World – the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – is a worldwide federation of more than 1,700 organisations from over 160 countries and territories campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex human rights. On their website you can find lists of local organizations who may be able to help and advise you.

Relocation

  • Rainbow Railroad – helps LGBTQI+ people who face violence and oppression simply because of who they love or who they are get to safety.

Grants

  • Freedom House – The Dignity for All: LGBTI Assistance Program provides emergency funds to human rights defenders and civil society organizations under threat or attack for their work; short-term urgent rapid response grants to support LGBTI+ organizations working in unpredictable environments counteract imminent threats and respond to opportunities to advance the rights of LGBTI+ people; and security trainings to proactively build knowledge and skills to help keep human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and communities safer from threats.

Other

  • Mosaic MENA – provide psychological well-being support and legal services to members of the LGBTI+ community in Lebanon and the wider MENA region.

Organizations supporting women

Generally, the worst countries for humanists, and the non-religious more broadly, tend to also be the worst countries for women. In these countries, women are doubly oppressed: on the one hand, by harmful religious practices; on the other, by systemic patriarchal oppression.

Women in our community report facing a range of challenges; they often report facing such challenges as forced marriages, domestic abuse or limited access to forms of communication.

Due to the specificity of such challenges, you may not find resources on all issues here.

Gender-based violence

Grants

  • Urgent Action Fund – The UAF’s Rapid Response Grants offer quick, flexible funding to respond to security threats or unexpected advocacy opportunities experienced by women, transgender, or gender non-conforming, activists and human rights defenders.
  • MADRE – fund emergency relocation and legal aid to organizations and activists under threat and requiring urgent assistance

Humanists International is a proud member of the European Union Temporary Relocation Programme

We know that this is a difficult time for everyone, and we understand that you may not be in a position to support our work financially at this time, but if you can, humanists at risk are in need now, more than ever. Any amount will go towards our work on behalf of individuals at risk. 

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