An international coalition of atheist and humanist organizations, led by the Center for Inquiry, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and American Atheists will protest the arrest and persecution of atheist bloggers and other dissenters in Bangladesh with demonstrations in New York, Washington, London, Ottawa, and other cities around the world on Thursday, April 25.
Bangladesh has recently been at the center of a human rights crisis as authorities have detained several prominent bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” followed by the arrest of a newspaper editor who printed quotations from the targeted bloggers, and two more young people for making “derogatory remarks” about Islam on Facebook. Tens of thousands of people have rallied in the country’s capital to demand more arrests, tougher blasphemy laws, and have threatened violence if their demands are not met by April 25.
With these unprecedented demonstrations, secularistsaround the world will express their solidarity with those jailed for speaking their minds about religion. Protesters will draw global attention to the plight of those persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of belief and expression, and attempt to spur the international community to take action and compel the government of Bangladesh to change course. Up-to-date information on protest events can be found at http://bit.ly/defenddissent.
“The events in Bangladesh are only the latest instance of a fierce global crackdown on ‘blasphemy,’ with the criminalization of atheism and religious dissent,” said protest coordinator Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “To all those who believe that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, we call upon you to join us, religious believer and atheist alike. We can show those whose lives and freedoms are threatened that they are not forgotten, and send a message to these oppressive regimes that their abuses will not be ignored.”
Protest events are so far confirmed for the following cities on April 25, 2013:
Washington, DC: Embassy of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. 4:30 pm ET
New York City: Office of the Consulate General of Bangladesh, 211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017. 4:30 pm ET
Will begin at Grand Central Station, move to the consulate, and then the United Nations building
Ottawa: High Commission for Bangladesh, Constitution Square Centre, 340 Albert St, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7Y6. 4:30 pm ET
Calgary: Consulate of Bangladesh, 633 6th Avenue South West, T2P 2Y6. 4:30 pm MT
London: Time and location TBA.
Twitter hashtag #DefendDissent.To coordinate an event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
CFI is a signatory to the Day of Action declaration in support of the persecuted bloggers begun by activist Maryam Namazie, available at bit.ly/bangladeshbloggers.
Learn more about those persecuted for blasphemy and dissent at the Campaign for Free Expression, www.centerforinquiry.net/cfe.