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IHEU condemns slaying of blogger

IHEU condemns slaying of blogger

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has issued a statement condemning yesterday’s killing of Ananta Bijoy Das in Bangladesh.

Prior to Ananta’s murder, blogger Md Washiqur (or Oyasiqur) Rahman Babu was hacked to death on March 30 this year in Bangladesh. His attackers claiming they had been instructed to kill him as their “Islamic duty”.

Avijit Roy was killed on February 27, 2015, outside the Dhaka book fair, in an attack which also seriously injured his wife Bonya Ahmed.

When his name appeared on on a hit list in March, Das wrote to IHEU, saying:

It seems to me I am one of the targets. I am not sure how long I will hide myself. But I am sure If they will find me they will do what they did with Mr. Avijit Roy. My life is seriously unsecured. I am not sure how can I protect myself & my family.

IHEU said:

Each of these murders is a crushing loss to the humanist and secularist communities of South Asia and the world.

IHEU condemns this murder in the strongest possible terms, as well as the failures of the Bangladeshi authorities to bring to justice the individuals and to break the networks behind this string of targeted killings. Whether from apathy, or incompetence, or intimidation, the police and government are utterly failing Bangladeshi humanist, atheist and secularist writers, thinkers and activists.

Ananta Bijoy Das had reached out to us at IHEU following the murders of Avijit and Washiqur. Accepting the very serious threat to this life, we advised Ananta in trying to make the difficult move out of danger. However, we have been informed that his application for a visa to travel to Sweden, under invitation from Swedish PEN, was rejected last week by the Swedish embassy in Dhaka, on the basis that he might seek to remain in Sweden.

We call on all countries to recognise the legitimacy and sometimes the urgency and moral necessity of asylum claims made by humanists, atheists and secularists who are being persecuted for daring to express those views.

We’ve been in contact with several Bangladeshi humanists, in particular since Avijit Roy was killed in February. These writers are not hateful, not intolerant; they write about science and politics, they are proponents of secularism, they voice skeptical and rationalist arguments, they call for justice and for humanism. They are desperately and increasingly concerned that they, too, have been named on the Islamist death lists.

Their murderers are assassinating writers in an attempt to terrify a nation against voicing humanist and secularist values and ideas, and to deter any criticism of religious beliefs or religious authorities. Their vile campaign of intimidation and terror must be met — not with hollow words and appeasement — but with strenuous, rigorous justice.

A protest in Dhaka against the killing of Das

A protest in Dhaka against the killing of Das

Swedish PEN confirmed in a statement that they had invited Ananta to Sweden to talk about the threat to atheists in Bangladesh, but his visa application was refused, despite the clear and demonstrated mortal threat to atheist writers in Bangladesh, and despite the support of PEN for his visit. Swedish PEN is demanding:

A detailed and credible explanation of why the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka chosen not to grant Ananta Bioy Dash the visa he needed to meet the Swedish PEN’s invitation to speak in Stockholm

In the visa refusal letter seen by IHEU (sent by the Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka to Das on April 22, 2015) the embassy noted among other considerations: “you are unmarried and you do not have any children”, as reason to consider the applicant not “well established in Bangladesh”, therefore:

… you have not made it likely that the purpose of the journey is only for a short visit for a meeting and not settlement there. You belong to a category of applicants where there is always a risk involved when granting a visa that you will not leave Schengen area after the visit.

Furthermore, the purpose of your trip is not urgent enough to grant you visa. With regards to this and different circumstances in your case as well as different visa regulations you do not fulfil the requirements for a visa. Your application is therefore rejected.

A comment piece in the Guardian said:

Like Raif Badawi, imprisoned and flogged in Saudi Arabia, the brave men who have been murdered are guilty of nothing more than honesty and integrity. Those are virtues that fundamentalists and fanatics cannot stand. They should inspire us. The struggle for free speech, for free inquiry and for the liberty of atheism need not be a fight against religion, unless religion is opposed to human dignity. It is a struggle against cowardice and conformism, and against everyone who would crush both truth and imagination into a cramped coffin of orthodoxy.

6 responses to “IHEU condemns slaying of blogger”

  1. L.Long says:

    isLame the religion of killing!
    No not really, there are religious dogma that says its OK to kill, but even so it takes at least one NATURAL BORN KILLER to lead the sheeple.
    So at the least the various religions -yes all dogmas- enable the KILLER by protecting the killer with a surrounding of acolytes. The enabling of killers is why I do not like ANY religion, and the so called moderates are nothing more than more sheeple no matter how much they condemn the killing as their HOLEY DOGMA of BS enables the killers. I will believe ‘moderates’ are for real when they take the hate-bigotry-killing out of their dogma, til then they are breeders and enablers!!

  2. Stuart H. says:

    After Avijit Roy’s death, his daughter asked humanists around the world to publicise the case. I took that literally, with a letter to my local paper expressing regret at the murder of a fellow humanist and the reluctance of Bangladeshi authorities to tackle the real problem. I also did that after Washiqur Rahman Babu’s murder and will do so again today.
    If these people and these deaths mean anything to us, we should be doing this in all the towns and cities where we live around the world, not passively waiting for national or international groups like the IHEU to do it. We need to because, let’s be honest, who else but us even notices the reports tucked away in the national press?
    These guys are getting killed for saying stuff too many of us are too idle to defend robustly. Time we step up too and start speaking out in public.

  3. Brummie says:

    Focussed murders and terrorist acts like this are a VERY effective method of striking fear into whole communities or nations. Small numbers of isolated atrocities achieve instant worldwide publicity.
    Who, in the UK for example, would peacefully demonstrate as an individual with a placard bearing a cartoon depiction, outside a mosque? One could, with relative safety, do this outside a church, synagogue, or any political party headquarters.
    Concerted action is what is needed to overcome this fear weapon. The defiant Charlie Hebdo protest march in Paris is a splendid example of how to counteract such submission to evil.
    Draw the Prophet Competition anyone?

  4. Marky Mark says:

    (Draw the Prophet Competition anyone?)
    …I like this Idea, and how do we post our art on this site. Link to a thread or photo site…would Barry dedicate an article for this compatition?

  5. Newspaniard says:

    These people generating death lists, which the Bangladeshi police are so assiduously investigating, no doubt, work for a Bangladeshi government department in order to protect islam. The culprits will never be found. Corruption is endemic in Bangladesh and has shown itself to be prevalent among the “public servants” of Tower Hamlets, in the UK.