BANGLADESH: Mounting concern for the safety of writers


 
 
Bangladesh: Mounting concern for the safety of writers

Murdered Bangladeshi Bloggers

Bengali writer, editor and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed on May 12, 2015, by religious extremists in the city of Sylhet. He is the third secular blogger to be murdered for his secular writings by religious extremists in Bangladesh this year. PEN Center USA is shocked by the escalating pattern of violence against writers and journalists in Bangladesh, who appear to be targeted with impunity solely for the peaceful expression of their views. At least six writers have been attacked or murdered since 2013, and although there have been several arrests, no one has been held accountable for any of these attacks. PEN calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards. It also demands that all possible steps are taken to protect writers at risk in the country according to Bangladesh’s commitments under national and international law.


Please SHARE this story on social media using the hashtag #Bangladesh, in an effort to increase public awareness of our mounting concern about the escalating pattern of attacks on writers and journalists in Bangladesh:
 


Please SIGN the petition at the bottom of this page to join PEN's appeal to the Bangladeshi authorities, calling for all necessary measures to be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards, and that all possible steps are taken to protect writers at risk in the country according to Bangladesh’s commitments under national and international law.


PEN is aware of at least two other secular bloggers currently at risk of attack in Bangladesh and urgently in need of shelter. Please contact cathy.mccann@pen-international.org if you are able to help.


Background

On May 12, 2015, 33 year-old Bengali writer, editor, and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death at approximately 8:30 AM in a busy street by a masked gang wielding machetes in the north-eastern city of Sylhet, who chased him as he made his way to work in a bank. He is the third blogger to be murdered for his secular writings by religious extremists in Bangladesh this year.

Prior to his death, Bijoy Das had received a number of death threats. His name appeared in two assassination lists compiled by the extremist Islamist group Ansarullah Bangla Team (a.k.a. Ansar Bangla-7) in February 2013 and March 2015, which were published in the Bangladeshi media. The lists include many other secular bloggers described by the Islamist group as anti-Islamic and blasphemous. In an email to Swedish PEN on March 20, 2015, Bijoy Das writes:

Just after the list was published I am getting calls at my cell phone and home number from some anonymous people who are threatening to murder me and my family members. I nowadays stay underground away from my home. It is barely called living. I don’t want to get killed at home or on the street, most importantly I don’t want to endanger the lives of my family members. I need to live, for a lot of things are yet to be done.


The Ansarullah Bangla Team is believed to be implicated in a number of attacks and murders of bloggers between 2013-15, including the murders in February and March 2015 of two other distinguished bloggers, Avijit Roy—a close friend of Bijoy Dash—and Washiqur Rahman. Although several arrests have been made in connection with some of the attacks since 2013, no one has been brought to justice. Bijoy Dash had been in hiding ever since Roy’s murder, and was urgently seeking protection. He had been accepted for placement by the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), and in early April 2015 he was invited to Sweden to give a talk by Swedish PEN. On April 22, 2015, the Swedish embassy in Dhaka refused his visa application. A statement by Swedish PEN can be found here.

Ananta Bijoy Dash was also an editor of a quarterly magazine called Jukti (Logic) and headed the Sylhet-based science and rationalist council. He was awarded the Mukto-mona Rationalist Award in 2006 for “his deep and courageous interest in spreading secular & humanist ideals and messages in a place which is not only remote, but doesn't have even a handful of rationalists.” His work focused on rationalism, atheism, and science, with a particular emphasis on biological evolution. He also wrote blog posts that criticized some aspects of Islam and also of Hinduism, as well as a poem eulogizing the renowned Bangladeshi secular writer Taslima Nasreen, who fled to Europe in 1994 after threats to her safety by Islamist extremists.


Please SHARE this story on social media using the hashtag #Bangladesh, in an effort to increase public awareness of our mounting concern about the escalating pattern of attacks on writers and journalists in Bangladesh:
 


Please SIGN the petition at the bottom of this page to join PEN's appeal to the Bangladeshi authorities, calling for all necessary measures to be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards, and that all possible steps are taken to protect writers at risk in the country according to Bangladesh’s commitments under national and international law.

 


 
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