Bangladesh: Secular blogger Niloy Neel murdered

Bangladesh: Secular blogger Niloy Neel murdered - Protection

Niloy Chakrabarti, a Bangladeshi blogger known for his secular views, has been murdered, reportedly in a religiously-motivated attack. Niloy Chakrabarti blogged under the pen-name Niloy Neel and is the fourth blogger murdered in Bangladesh this year.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the highest levels of Bangladesh government to immediately and unequivocally condemn this murder, and to clearly commit to holding accountable those who are responsible for the attack. 

‘The murder of yet another blogger is utterly condemnable. The silencing of expression by violence creates an atmosphere of fear in which self-censorship becomes rife. The state has a duty to prevent, protect and ensure accountability for such attacks on expression: a speedy, independent, and effective investigation must occur,’ commented Tahmina Rahman, ARTICLE 19’s Director of Bangladesh and South Asia. 

The first few hours and days following an attack are crucial to ensure relevant and reliable evidence and witness testimony is collected, to maximise the possibility of a successful prosecution.  

According to police reports, six attackers entered Neel’s flat in Dhaka and murdered him with machetes, while confining his wife to another room inside the house. Neel was an Atheist and anti-extremist voice, as well as a proponent of women’s and minority rights.  

The authorities must examine how the death of a 4th blogger in Bangladesh this year was possible, and what should have been done to prevent it. Ensuring that other bloggers who are at risk receive adequate protection must be an immediate priority.  

While Bangladesh is officially a secular state, there has been criticism that the government has reacted inadequately to religiously-motivated attacks on bloggers. Two individuals have been arrested in connection with the recent murders of bloggers, but none charged.

ARTICLE 19 remains deeply concerned by the level of impunity regarding these attacks, which amount to crimes against freedom of expression: the government must act further to protect bloggers in full compliance with international standards in this area.

‘For society to flourish, people must be able to openly question and debate important issues, including issues of  religion and belief, without fear of attack. The online space provides an essential and unique forum for that exchange. An environment of impunity can only lead to more violence, and more unjustifiable silencing of voices,’ added Rahman.