March 30, 2015, New York--Bangladeshi authorities should investigate the murder of a blogger in the capital, Dhaka, and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Washiqur Rahman Babu is the second blogger to be hacked to death in public in Bangladesh in the past five weeks.
"The Bangladeshi government must urgently establish accountability in this murder case and others--otherwise the rest of the country's bloggers, commentators, and journalists covering sensitive topics remain at grave risk of being attacked as well," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "We call on Bangladeshi authorities to ensure a thorough, effective, and timely investigation into the killing of Washiqur Rahman Babu."
Three assailants attacked Rahman with a sharp weapon as he left his home to go to work in the morning, The Associated Press reported. The blogger, who was also identified in reports as Oyasiqur Rhaman, was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital from injuries he sustained to his head, face, and neck, news reports said. Police were able to identify Rahman using a voter identity card they found in his possession, the reports said.
Police arrested two men in connection with Rahman's murder today, both students at local madrasas, or theological schools, news reports said. Police also identified a third suspect, according to reports.
Deputy Police Commissioner Biplob Kumar Sarker told Agence France-Presse that in initial interrogations the suspects said they killed Rahman "because he criticized hardline Islamists" in his writing. Rahman wrote about religion, science, and against communalism, mainly on Facebook, according to news website BDNews24. According to The Dhaka Tribune, Rahman opposed "irrational religious beliefs, superstitions, and radical Islamists" on his Facebook page.
Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, told AFP that Rahman used to write under the penname Kutshit Hasher Chhana (Ugly Duckling), and described him as a progressive thinker who was critical of religious fundamentalism.
Last month in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, blogger Avijit Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, were attacked by assailants wielding sharp weapons while the couple was visiting Dhaka, according to news reports. Roy, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin, was killed and his wife was critically injured. Roy was reported to have been an outspoken critic of Islamic fundamentalism and had written on secular and progressive issues. Last week, his family expressed concern that little progress had been made in the case. Investigators have arrested a suspect and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping with the probe, Reuters said.
Bloggers and commentators covering religious issues in Bangladesh have been at risk in recent years, according to CPJ research. In January 2013, blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who wrote critical commentary on religion, Islamist groups, free speech, and human rights, barely survived after he was stabbed by Islamists. No one has been convicted in the attack, according to reports. In February 2013, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider, who had written about Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist groups, was hacked to death by members of an Islamist militant group, according to police investigations. No one has been convicted in that attack, according to reports. Later that year, Islamist groups called for the execution of bloggers they said had committed blasphemy, reports said.
- For more data and analysis on Bangladesh, visit CPJ's Bangladesh page here.