Press release

Bangladesh: ARTICLE 19 condemns the murder of blogger Avijit Roy

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ARTICLE 19

27 Feb 2015

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ARTICLE 19 condemns the murder of Avijit Roy, blogger and founder of the pioneer blog “Mukto Mona”.

Avijit Roy was attacked, reportedly with a machete, at the Dhaka University campus by unknown assailants. He and his wife were returning from the Ekushey Boi Mela, the traditional month-long book fair organised each February by the Bangla Academy to commemorate the historic language movement and celebrate publications in Bangla.

Avijit’s wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, was also badly wounded when she tried to save her husband from the fatal machete attacks at approximately 8:45pm on Thursday 26 February. The couple were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital where Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, was later declared dead a result of fatal blows to his head.

Condemning the brutal killing, Tahmina Rahman, Director, Bangladesh and South Asia, ARTICLE 19 said that “impunity for attacks and premeditated murders of bloggers creates an environment where violent groups are strengthened because they believe they have a carte blanche to silence those they disagree with.”

“The state has an obligation to carry out effective investigations into all attacks, particularly those who are targeted for their free expression”, she added.

A twitter account in the name “Ansar Bangla 7” has posted several comments indicating responsibility for the attack. They include postings declaring that Avijit had been a top target for the last three to four years for his “crimes against Islam”.  In another posting a comment reads: “This is the operation same like #Parisattacks & #Kopenhagen Attack. Same cause, same action [sic]”.  

Speaking to ARTICLE 19, Assistant Police Commissioner, Shibli Noman of Ramna explained that the reported twitter comments had been brought to the police’s attention and that they will be further investigating into the matter.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the government to promptly and fully investigate this brutal killing and to bring the perpetrators to justice under the Speedy Trials Tribunal.

Background

Avijit Roy was well known for his books “Biswaser Virus” (Virus of Faith) and “Sunyo theke Mahabiswa” (From Vacuum to the Universe) and as founder of the popular Bengali language blog “Mukto Mona” (Of Free Mind). He lived in the USA and was a software engineer. He had reputation for championing liberal secular writing and for challenging religious extremism and all kinds of prejudice.

Avijit and his wife were visiting Bangladesh to launch his books, “Biswaser Virus” and “Abishwaser Darshan” (Philosophy of Disbelief), at the book fair and were scheduled to leave at the end of the month.

Reportedly, family and friends of Avijit have claimed that he had received death threats from Islamists saying that he would meet the same fate as blogger, Rajiv Haider, and Humayun Azad, a teacher of Dhaka University, both free-thinking writers.  Rajiv Haider, an activist of the “Ganajagoron Mancha” (one of the youth movements demanding justice for war crimes) was stabbed to death in February 2013. Humayun Azad was stabbed by Islamist militants in Feburary 2004 in the month of February. He later died in Germany while receiving treatment.