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Humanists UK at the UN calls for Bangladesh to repeal its blasphemy laws

Bangladesh must urgently do more to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief of its citizens, Humanists UK told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

In a statement delivered at the 39th session of the UNHRC, Humanists UK noted that whilst freedom of belief and freedom of expression are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these freedoms are seriously at risk in Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh is officially a secular country, the Bangladeshi government has faced increasing pressure from Islamist extremists in recent years which has led to a rise in religious intolerance.

Since 2013, there have been multiple murders and attempted murders of humanists or those accused of being non-religious. In June this year, a well-known publisher of humanist texts, Shazahan Bachchu was shot dead. Humanists UK is concerned about the persecution of humanists and freethinkers in Bangladesh and has urged Bangladesh to act now in order to prevent future attacks. Humanists UK has also urged Bangladesh to prosecute those who are responsible for the murders of humanist activists.

The statement, read by Humanists UK representative Dr David Harvey, went on condemn Bangladesh’s blasphemy laws, which are in contravention of international human rights standards. Dr Harvey said:

‘Any attempt to limit freedom of expression with respect to religion or belief must be resisted and Bangladesh must remain steadfast in maintaining its secular constitutional character. Bangladesh must repeal its laws that criminalise blasphemy, and instead recognise people’s rights to peaceful freedom of expression.’

Notes

For more comment and information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on rachel@humanism.org.uk or 0207 324 3065.

Read Humanists UK’s full intervention here:  https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018-09-13-JW-Bangladesh-UPR-blasphemy.pdf

Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaign work: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/international-campaigns/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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