The British Humanist Association (BHA) has called on the UK Government to speak out on the growing crisis in Bangladesh, following the murder of a fourth humanist blogger in the space of a few months.
Niloy Chowdhury Neel was killed in his home at midday on Friday 7 August. He was beheaded and his hands were severed. A well-known blogger, Niloy was heavily involved in the secularist movement as an organizer for the Science and Rationalist Association Bangladesh, and also wrote for the popular Mukto-Mona (‘Freethinker’) humanist blogging platform. He worked for an NGO and recently completed his Master’s degree in Philosophy.
His death is the fourth in a wave of killings to affect Bangladesh after the prominent humanist writer Avijit Roy was murdered in February, followed by the killings of bloggers Washiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das in March and May respectively.
His death shows a new degree of daring on the part of extremists in Bangladesh. Previous attacks happened in broad daylight in busy streets, with local activists recognising that killers have been emboldened by unmotivated police investigations and a culture of impunity around ‘blasphemy’ killings. Niloy’s death marks an escalation in the violence as confident killers conned their way into his home to brutalise and behead him for speaking out about religious extremism and writing about Humanism.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the BHA, has challenged the UK Government to act, saying:
‘This latest murder demonstrates once again if further proof were needed that the culture of impunity for these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has become firmly entrenched. We are calling on 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. The UK has a duty of conscience to urge this Commonwealth member, with which it has such strong links, to restore freedom and the rule of law, and to bring an end to this escalating bloodshed.’
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.