Yet more attacks on the Bangladeshi humanist bloggers’ network took place yesterday, with two publishing houses targeted in coordinated action by Islamists. In one attack, Faysal Arefin Dipon of the Jagriti publishing house, who published a range of secularist books including those by the prominent humanist blogger Avijit Roy, has been murdered. In the other, three individuals at the Shuddho-Shor publishing house – the poet Tareq Rahim, the publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul, and the author Ranadeep Basu, were all injured. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has condemned the attacks and called yet again on authorities to prevent any more from occurring.
The attacks represent the latest in a string of assaults by Islamists on Bangladesh’s humanist blogger network. In February Avijit Roy, the founder of the Mukto-Mona (‘Freethinker’) humanist blogging platform, was hacked to death with machetes in the streets of Dhaka, and his wife Bonya Ahmed was gravely injured. In March, Washiqur Rahman was killed within 500 yards from his house in Dhaka by assailants with meat cleavers. In May, Ananta Bijoy Das was killed on his way to work in Sylhet by Islamists with machetes and cleavers. In August, Niloy Neel was brutally murdered in his home. The latest attack saw Islamists use machetes, as well as guns for the first time.
The BHA has been steadfast in its support for the Bangladeshi bloggers, meeting with UK Government officials, lobbying the Bangladesh High Commission in London and speaking out on the matter at the UN Human Rights Council in June. In July Bonya Ahmed delivered the BHA’s Voltaire Lecture in London on the grave threats to free speech that Bangladesh is facing, and last month the BHA held a fringe at the Conservative Party Conference on the theme of international freedom of religion or belief, featuring Bangladeshi blogger Arif Rahman.
Responding to the latest attacks, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Yet another brazen, organised attack and murder of Bangladeshi secularists and humanists and yet more confirmation of the culture of impunity afforded to these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has been demonstrated this weekend.
‘As with the previous murders and attacks, again we call upon the UK Government to stand by the bloggers of Bangladesh whose rights to freedom of religion or belief, to freedom of expression, and to life are being routinely negated, and to demonstrate its commitment to these freedoms to the Government of Bangladesh.
‘Freedom of speech and the rule of law are being undermined and Bangladesh needs to act to restore them or it will continue to lose some of its bravest, most thoughtful, and inspiring citizens, to its continuing shame.’
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.