Since 2013, a number of secularist writers, bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh have been killed or seriously injured in attacks perpetrated by Islamist extremists. The attacks have taken place at a time of growing tension between Bangladeshi secularists, who want the country to maintain its secularist tradition of separation of religion and state, and Islamists, who want an Islamic state. The US Commission has written to the Secretary of State seeking Humanitarian Parole for Bangladeshi Writers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom sent the following letter to Secretary Kerry on January 25, 2016.
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry
On behalf of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I write to urge that our government provide humanitarian parole for a limited number of Bangladeshi writers at imminent risk of assassination by extremist groups.
We share the concerns raised in a letter sent to you last month from PEN America Center, and co-signed by several other prominent human rights organizations, about the acute threat that Bangladeshi bloggers and publishers faced in 2015 and continue to face. In 2015, four Bangladeshis, Washiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niloy Chatterjee, and Faisal Arefin Dipan, and Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy, were assassinated because of their writings, including expressing their secular beliefs that amounted to blasphemy in the eyes of the religious extremists who killed them. Additionally, numerous other individuals have been placed on “hit-lists,” which are widely available on the Internet. The five murders, along with the hit lists, underscore that several individuals remain in imminent danger.
USCIRF respectfully urges you to use your good offices to help secure humanitarian parole for a select number of bloggers who remain in imminent danger in Bangladesh.
We thank you and stand ready to assist in any way.
Robert P. George