In a statement issued at the weekend, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing of Niloy Neel, the fourth humanist blogger in Bangladesh to be hacked to death by Islamists this year, and called on the Government to do more to prevent further attacks. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed his call, and reiterated its own similar desire to see further violence prevented.
In his statement, Mr Ban ‘expressed his deep concern over these gruesome crimes and their impact on the exercise of freedom of expression in Bangladesh. He calls on the Government of Bangladesh to bring those responsible for the murder of Mr. Neel and the other bloggers to justice in an expeditious manner and act to ensure that all Bangladeshis can enjoy freedom of expression and all other human rights without fear.’
Police inaction has been a serious source of concern for the bloggers and other humanists. Indeed, in May Niloy Neel published a Facebook post expressing concern that he had been followed by two individuals – and when he reported it to the police, the police refused to assist him.
The BHA has been working to raise the issues concerned with the UK Government. On Friday the Government issued a statement condemning the murder, calling on the Bangladeshi authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice, and defending freedom of speech. This represents the first time it has issued such a statement.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Freedom of thought, speech and expression is one of the most fundamental of human rights, as it is on this freedom that many other rights are built. And yet it is a right that is being repeatedly denied to the humanist bloggers of Bangladesh, as more and more are attacked whilst the state fails to protect them.
‘What happened to Niloy, and to Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das before him, must not happen to anyone else. We welcome the UN and UK Government’s calls for action, and will continue to push them to take whatever steps they can to prevent more murders.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07534 248 596.
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.