If it’s not the death threats, then it is death itself that is reserved for anyone in Bangladesh who speaks out against the nation’s increasingly Islam-aligned political parties. Despite a constitution that supports secularism, these parties have supported (and unofficially sanction) action against they find guilty of ‘blasphemy’. This has forced people like Taslima Nasreen, author and self-described atheist, to hide out in India after mob violence followed her critique of religious fundamentalism and government inaction. This was in 1992 – in the years after, a slowly escalating pattern of fatal attacks against free thinking bloggers began.
In 2004, there was one death – Humayun Azad, a secular author and critic after a year of assassination attempts. In 2013, there were 3. 2014 saw only 1 death, but almost halfway through the year, and there’s only been 3 murders.
26 February 2015: Avijit Roy
Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy, known for speaking out against religious fundamentalism was hacked to death on the streets of Bangladesh’s capital when he was out for a stroll with his wife. The attack occurred along a crowded stretch of sidewalk as he and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University. Rafida, who is also a blogger, was seriously injured.
30 March 2015: Washiqur Rahman
Washiqur Rahman was hacked to death in Dhaka just 500 yards from his house. Rahman was known to be a writer “against religious fundamentalism”. “It appeared Rahman used to write using a penname Kutshit Hasher Chhana (Ugly Duckling),” reveals Imran Sarker, head of Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, told AFP. “He was a progressive free thinker and was against religious fundamentalism.”
12 May 2015: Ananta Bijoy Das
Today, a masked gang wielding machetes hacked secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das to death in northeastern Bangladesh. Imran Sarker told AFP that Das was “an atheist and wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona,” a website which was moderated by Avijit Roy mentioned earlier in the list.