Washiqur Rahman, a 27-year-old blogger, was hacked to death with machetes today by three men in Tejgaon, an industrial district of Dhaka. Police arrested two of the men but the third got away.
Police told local media that Rahman’s blog posts were the motive for the attack but did not mention any in particular. “We are appalled by this latest barbaric act and the additional threat it represents for freedom of expression and information, which is already endangered by the almost daily violence to which bloggers and journalists are exposed in Bangladesh,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “We offer our condolences to Rahman’s family and friends, we condemn the government’s failure to protect bloggers, especially those who cover or comment on religion, fundamental freedoms and extremism of all kinds, and we again urge the prime minister to combat this growing violence or else all non-religious thinkers will flee and strict self-censorship will dominate all public debate in Bangladesh.” When unidentified individuals slew writer and blogger Avijit Roy and badly injured his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, in Dhaka on 26 February, Reporters Without Borders condemned the inadequacy of the resources deployed to bring the perpetrators and instigators of crimes against journalists and bloggers to justice. Reporters Without Borders also urged the authorities to allocate resources to protect bloggers who are the targets of online threats by radical religious groups and bloggers known for their commitment to freedom of expression. Rahman is the third blogger to be killed since the start of 2013 in Bangladesh, which is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.