The United Nations has expressed deep concern over attacks on different journalists and other intellectuals in Bangladesh in recent times.
“…it’s a matter of tremendous concern that different journalists and other intellectuals have been attacked,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, at a regular briefing at the UN headquarters on Monday.
He said the UN has been calling for the respect of basic rights in Bangladesh, including the rights of people to freedom of expression.
Farhan Haq, however, said he does not have any high-level travel to Bangladesh to announce at this stage. “…but you’re aware of our concerns.”
Blogger Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in Tejgaon Industrial area of Dhaka on Monday morning.
Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi American online activist, writer, blogger known for pioneering Bengali freethinkers’ weblog-forum, Mukto Mona, was killed and his wife, blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonya, severely injured when unidentified miscreants hacked them at TSC of Dhaka University.
Solidarity and Love to Our Bangladeshi Sister and Brother Bloggers
Love and Solidarity to our Beloved Bangladeshi Sisters and Brothers.
Rory Fenton writes in the Independent.
“Words cannot be killed”. This is the Facebook cover page of Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman. It’s a statement of solidarity with Avijit Roy, the Bangladeshi-American atheist blogger who was murdered last month in the capital of Dhaka by religious extremists.
Just this morning, Rahman suffered a similar fate to Roy’s. He was surrounded and stabbed to death by suspected extremists while on his way to work, in the middle of a busy street. He was 27 years old.
Far from just being two random murders, these attacks are the methodical work of vigilante extremists working through a list of atheist bloggers. The list was drawn up last year when 100,000 protesters called on the government to introduce the death penalty for blasphemy. The government refused to introduce death penalty, but it did begin a crack down on the country’s free-thinking blog community. It shut down some of its most popular sites, and imprisoned bloggers accused of “offending religious feelings”. Once known as the only place where non-religious Bangladeshis could gather safely, the internet suddenly became unsafe for atheists wanting to air their views.
Fenton’s conclusion is bleak.
This weekend I arrived in Bangladesh with the naïve hope of writing about wide-eyed idealists fighting the fight no matter what, fuelled with the zeal of Je Suis Charlie. The reality on the ground is much harsher: atheists are being hunted down for both religious retribution and political gain. Washiqur Rahman was right: words cannot be killed. But a struggling movement can only take so much battering, and Bangladeshi atheism is fighting to survive.
The Dhaka Tribune notes,
UN concerned over attacks on journalists, intellectuals
For Bangladesh the British Humanist Association states,
Following Avijit’s death, campaigners in Bangladesh and around the world called on Bangladesh to do more to protect its humanist bloggers. In addition to Washiqur, Avijit, and Ahmed, who all died as a consequence of expressing non-religious beliefs and criticising religious power, various others such as Asif Mohiuddin were attacked and left with potentially fatal wounds.
The Bangladeshi writer and exile Taslima Nasrin paid her respects to Washiqur via Twitter. In her comment, she warned that ‘Bangladesh is not a place for freethinkers.’
There are growing calls on Bangladesh to legislate to prevent further blasphemy-related reprisals. Earlier this month, the British Humanist Association (BHA) raised the issue of reprisals against perceived blasphemers to the UN Human Rights Council, urging states to explicitly outlaw such attacks amid a wave of violence targeting the non-religious around the world. Blasphemy-related killings have very low prosecution and arrest rates, and there is a strong perception that those who kill for blasphemy are able to act with impunity.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Our thoughts are with Washiqur’s friends and loved ones throughout this harrowing ordeal. Once again, Bangladesh has lost a son, this time a satirist who criticised religious fundamentalism. How much more blood must be shed before Bangladesh will take action to protect its citizens? Bloody reprisals in response to perceived blasphemy have become an endemic problem, and states like Bangladesh must affirm the human right to express one’s own beliefs without fear of attack, and do more to prevent such attacks from happening in future.’
In Bangladesh itself this is the reaction of Bloggers,
Bangladesh bloggers show solidarity for Washiqur Rahman.
Washiqur Rahman was attacked and killed near his home in Dhaka. The online activist is the second blogger killed in Bangladesh since February. Fellow activists call him a “warrior” for liberty and worry who will be next.
See more here.
We atheist and secular bloggers across the world have a duty to support our beloved Bangladeshi sisters and brothers.
At present we have backed the campaign to support the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (see Facebook).
It is a matter of urgency that we do all we can to back the Bangladeshi free thinkers.
Dhaka, March 31 (ANI): Bangladesh’s people’s resurgence platform, Gonojagoron Mancha, staged protest in Dhaka after a blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants. It was the second attack in five weeks on a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation. Washikur Rahman, a secular blogger, was attacked by young religious students on a busy street in the centre of Dhaka. The killing comes just weeks after US secular blogger Avijit Roy was hacked to death while returning with his wife from a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a finger in the February 26 attack. The protesters of Gonojagoron Mancha marched onto the streets demanding strict action against the murderers as they shouted slogans and raised banners.
London: The British Humanist Association is holding a leafleting protest from 10-4 p.m. outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London. Volunteers are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
28 Queen’s Gate London SW7 5JA
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