Sunday, 22 January 2017

Malta Today: Standard-bearer for humanism, tireless civil rights campaigner Ramon Casha, passes away

‘Honest free-thinker’ Ramon Casha, chair of the Malta Humanists Association, passes away

Matthew Vella, 22 January 2017, 7:02pm

Ramon Casha: ‘altruistic humanist who worked tirelessly for the good of the Maltese society’

One of Malta’s foremost civil society activists, Ramon Casha, has passed away.

Casha, 47, was said to have died from medical complications at Mater Dei Hospital. He had been readmitted to hospital following injuries he incurred in a motorcycle accident back in July 2016.

He was the chairperson of the Malta Humanists Association (MHA), the first such organisation of its kind in Malta, and a vocal defender of secularism in various public fora both online and offline.

An IT specialist by profession, Casha was a remarkable activist who lent his voice to campaigners everywhere he could, notably during the 2011 divorce referendum in favour of divorce, in the 2015 referendum in favour of the abolition of hunting in spring, and also in favour of gay rights.

Casha believed in putting forward the MHA’s contribution to society, and in December 2016 he presented donations of almost €1,000 to homeless shelter Dar Merhba Bik and cancer support group Hospice Malta.

He was pleased to note that in 2016, Malta had outlawed ‘gay conversion’ therapy, and witnessed advances in civil rights with the passing of the gender identity law and the presentation of the Equality Act.

“However I feel that the most momentous change came about thanks to the efforts of a number of Maltese women to get the ‘morning-after pill’ legalised. This went far beyond the MAP itself – it saw many thousands of women mobilising in the face of discrimination, making their demands and refusing to back down. As more and more women started speaking out publicly, this encouraged more women to join in and speak up,” Casha noted in an end-of-year post on the MHA’s Facebook page.

That same year, Casha had the pleasure of hosting representatives of national humanist organisations from all around the world in Malta to hold the annual general assemblies of the European and International parent organisations the EHF and IHEU.

Michael Briguglio, sociologist and a former Green Party chairperson, said Casha was “honest, free-thinking and a non-partisan civil society campaigner”.

Activist Nighat Urphani described Casha as “an altruistic humanist who worked tirelessly for the good of the Maltese society”.

Another friend, Russell Sammut, said on Facebook: “Thank you for everything Ramon, you always were supportive, spoke for minorities and fought for others... Big loss for Malta, my deepest sympathy to your family.”

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