The Bangladeshi humanist blogger and author Ananta Bijoy Das has been hacked to death in Sylhet by four masked men wielding machetes and cleavers. His murder is the fourth such attack in Bangladesh in the last three years and the third in as many months. Das had been working with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) to gain asylum in Europe; just last week a visa application was denied by Swedish authorities.
In 2013, Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death, while Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed several times and several bloggers were arrested. More recently, in February this year, Avijit Roy was also hacked to death while his wife Bonya Ahmed was severely injured. Then in March, Washiqur Rahman was also hacked to death. And today Ananta Bijoy Das has been killed in the same way. Das was part of the Mukto-Mona blogging network (meaning ‘Free Mind’) which Roy founded.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has reacted with shock at the news, and alarm at the continued lack of care by both the Bangladeshi authorities who have failed to protect the humanist bloggers and the fact that he was unable to find asylum in Europe.
In 2014, the BHA awarded the bloggers the Free Expression Award at the World Humanist Congress in Oxford, the theme of which was freedom of speech and expression. Mohiuddin collected the award on behalf of his fellow bloggers. In March, the BHA intervened at the UN Human Rights Council to call for an end to blasphemy laws and for countries to explicitly outlaw reprisals against perceived blasphemers. And just last week IHEU was helping Das in seeking to gain asylum in Europe, an effort which ultimately failed.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ananta Bijoy Das, and our thoughts are with him, his family, his friends and all his fellow bloggers. Das was a critic of religious fundamentalism, a strong advocate of science and a powerful advocate of freedom of speech and expression.
‘The Bangladeshi authorities have once again failed to protect one of those most at risk, in spite of his well-known association with others who have been murdered in exactly the same way. Bangladesh must do more to protect Das’s fellow bloggers, and do everything it can to bring his attackers to justice. And countries in Europe must recognise the plight of the non-religious and the very real threat that individuals like Das face in their home countries.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.