April 7, 2016

RSF calls for measures in response to blogger’s murder

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Bangladeshi government to adopt concrete measures to protect secular bloggers after Nazim Uddin Samad, 27, became the latest fatal victim when he was stabbed and shot yesterday in a southern suburb of the capital, Dhaka.

Samad was returning home after attending classes at Jagannath University when he was attacked by three unidentified individuals, who hacked at him with machetes while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). One of them finally shot him point-blank and then they fled on a motorcycle.

The police said that, while they had not confirmed the motive for this targeted murder, the injuries were similar to those inflicted on other bloggers and activists in a series of attacks by members of Islamist groups since early last year.

Samad had criticized Islamists online. Friends said he had used social networks to campaign for secularism. In a post on the eve of his death, he had voiced concern about law and order in Bangladesh.

“After this latest act of barbarity, we call on the authorities to move quickly not only to arrest its perpetrators and instigators but also to come up with solutions to end this wave of attacks against secular bloggers,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

Four bloggers were killed in a series of similar attacks in 2015. The first victim was Avijit Roy, the founder of the Mukto-Mona website. He was followed by Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das and Niloy NeelNiloy Neel. All criticized religious fundamentalism and advocated tolerance, free speech and freedom of thought in their blogs.

Bangladesh is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.