Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s brutal murder of Ananta Bijoy Das, the third blogger to be killed in Bangladesh since February because of what he wrote. All three criticized religious fundamentalism, defended freedom of expression and thought, and preached toleration.
Aged 33, Das
was hacked to death in broad daylight on a street in the northeastern city of Sylhet by four masked men with machetes.
A staunch defender of secularism, Das wrote for Mukto-Mona
(Free Thought), a website created by Avijit Roy, a US blogger of Bangladeshi origin who was himself murdered during a visit to Dhaka on 26 February
. Das also wrote for the quarterly Jukti
(Logic) and headed the Council for Science and Reason.
He had been getting threats from Islamist extremists for months in connection with his blog posts. Sylhet’s police chief said the police are investigating the radical group Ansar Al-Islam’s claim on Twitter that Das was killed by Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
“We condemn this third barbaric murder of a secular blogger in three months in Bangladesh and we fear the possibility of more attacks of this kind,”
Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said.
“What are the authorities waiting for to find and punish those responsible? Freedom of information and thought seems exposed to a growing danger. It is vital to protect Bangladesh’s free-thinkers and not yield to impunity.”
The other blogger to be killed in the past three months was Washiqur Rahman, who was hacked to death in Dhaka on 30 March.
According to several sources, both Das and Roy were on hit-lists of atheist bloggers compiled by Islamist militants.
Bangladesh is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.