Secularist Activists Are Being Murdered in Bangladesh: An Ongoing Crisis Causes Many to Flee

Jun 8, 2016

By Michael De Dora

If you’ve seen any news headline on Bangladesh in Western media over the past 15 months, odds are strong the headline included the phrase “hacked to death”: Writer hacked to death outside a book fairBlogger hacked to death on his way to workLGBT activists hacked to death in their apartment.

These reports illustrate a deep human rights crisis in Bangladesh. Since 2013, violent extremists linked to militant Islamist groups have attacked or killed more than one dozen writers, publishers, and activists. The attacks intensified starting in February 2015, when Avijit Roy, author and founder of Bengali freethought website Mukto-Mona, was murdered as he was leaving a book fair in Dhaka. His wife, author Bonya Ahmed, was severely injured in the attack. Within six months, three more secularist bloggers would be murdered.

In 2016, these attacks have continued and widened in scope. Recent attacks have claimed religious minorities—including Christians, Hindus, Sufis, and Shias—professors, students, LGBT activists, and even the wife of a police investigator.

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