Since February 2015, there have been six deadly attacks on atheist, humanist, and secularist writers, bloggers, and publishers in Bangladesh, all by machete-wielding militants. Their crime? Promoting humanism and secularism, voicing skeptical and rationalist arguments, peacefully calling for justice and freedoms in Bangladesh.
Religious believers, LGBT rights activists, and university professors have also been subjected to threats and violent attacks. All these attacks have been claimed either by native terrorist groups or by Daesh.
The response from the Bangladesh government to these attacks has been extremely disappointing: Government officials have failed to take action to help protect and support threatened atheists or secularists, or publicly condemn the killings. Officials have instead distanced themselves from the victims, or even appeared to blame the deceased for their own murders.
After the murder of Niloy Neel, Prime Minister Hasina stated, “You can’t attack someone else’s religion. You’ll have to stop doing this. It won’t be tolerated if someone else’s religious sentiment is hurt.”
Stating in regards to secular bloggers, she said further: “I consider such writings as not free thinking but filthy words. Why anyone would write such things? It’s not at all acceptable if anyone writes against our prophet or other religions. Why would the government take responsibility if such writings lead to any untoward incidents? Everyone should maintain decency. Or else the government wouldn’t take the responsibility for any uncivilised attitude.”
Minister Khan would also state, “The bloggers, they should control their writing. … I want to say that people should be careful not to hurt anyone by writing anything — hurt any religion, any people’s beliefs, any religious leaders.”
Join us in calling the Bangladesh government to :
- Protect freedoms and people
- Stop citing religion as a justification to deny people’s rights
- Condemn attacks on atheists, secularists and minorities
- Conduct investigations into the killings and brought those responsible to justice
Join us in calling the international community to extend support and provide assistance to Bangladesh in order to address this human rights crisis.