Tuesday, August 11, 2015CJFE condemns the brutal murder of Bangladeshi secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti on August 6. Chakrabarti, who blogged under the pen name Niloy Neel, was murdered after a gang armed with machetes broke into his fifth-floor apartment in the Goran neighbourhood of Dhaka. Ansar al-Islam, a local al-Qaeda affiliated organization, has reportedly claimed responsibility for the murder. Neel had previously expressed fear for his life and had filed a police report, but authorities did not follow up on his complaint. Neel was an atheist blogger who championed women’s, minority and indigenous rights. Coming from a Hindu background, Neel was a prominent voice against Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh. Niloy Neel’s murder follows the killing of fellow bloggers Avijit Roy in February, Washiqur Rahman in March and Ananta Bijoy Das in May. All four bloggers spoke out against religious extremism and had repeatedly received death threats for their writings. They were also all named on a “hit-list” of 84 atheist bloggers drafted by Ansar al-Islam in 2013 and subsequently murdered by members of Islamic groups in Bangladesh. This list of primarily secular writers was widely circulated, and the leader of the group specifically incited followers to murder “all atheist followers…to protect Islam” in a series of sermons that same year. Nine writers on the list have already been murdered, and three of the victims wrote for the same blog—Mukto Mona (“Free Mind”). CJFE strongly urges authorities in Bangladesh to fully investigate Neel’s murder, identify all perpetrators and bring them to justice. Moreover, the Bangladeshi government must take substantive action to bolster protection for bloggers and human rights defenders in the country, and take meaningful action when threats are reported. The political will to protect these individuals from being killed with impunity and to establish a space for alternative discourse is absolutely crucial.
This letter of concern was sent to H.E. His Excellency Kamrul Ahsan, High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Canada. Cc: Mr. Robert McDougall, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs