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No Country for Free Thinkers – Bangladesh Gay Rights Activists Murdered

No country for free- thinkers- mybigplunge.


No Country for Free Thinkers – Bangladesh Gay Rights Activists Murdered

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he repeated failure of Bangladesh government to protect the freedom of speech of their citizens has made it a dangerous place for free thinkers as two leading gay rights activists were hacked to death yet again this week on Monday. The killings add to the series of scathing attacks on intellectuals, writers, and religious minorities. The government has convicted only a handful of people.

The two gay rights activists, Xulhaz Mannan, 35, and Mahbub Tonoy, 25, were hacked at an apartment in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Reportedly, around six men had entered the apartment carrying machete and guns.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Maruf Hossain Sorder told media, “Unidentified attackers entered an apartment at Kalabagan and hacked two people to death. Another person was injured.”

Mannan was the editor of a magazine for the LGBT community, namely Roopban, which had become a platform for promoting LGBT rights in Bangladesh, where homosexual acts are illegal. The magazine was founded two years ago.
Rights groups are predicting the latest killings as a way by the attackers to expand their range of targets.

The continuous murders of secular bloggers and liberal activists have left the country reeling. Continuous protests and gatherings are going on demanding justice and greater protection for minority groups in the conservative Muslim-majority nation.

The murder on Saturday of a liberal and free- thinking university professor in the northwestern city of Rajshahi was another such example. The Islamic State (ISIS) has even claimed responsibility for the attack through its news agency, saying the 58-year-old professor who wrote poetry and fiction had been slain for ‘calling for atheism’.

The activists knew that it was coming. Law enforcers had arrested and released four LGBT activists earlier this month after they tried to hold the rally on April 14, Bengali New Year. Mannan had told media ahead of the banned event that they had received threats from Islamists, who posted messages online.

The United States ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat also informed that one of the victims was a Bangladeshi national working for the US embassy in Dhaka.

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent’s (AQIS) Bangladesh arm, namely Ansar al-Islam in a statement issued on Twitter claimed responsibility for the murders on Tuesday. They stated that the two men had worked to ‘promote homosexuality’ in Bangladesh.

“They were working day and night to promote homosexuality among the people of this land since 1998 with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies,” read the tweet.
The national police Chief A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque, however, told reporters the killing bore the hallmarks of local Islamists.

The ISIS has in recent months claimed responsibility for the killing of Christians, Hindu priests and members of the minority Sufi, Ahmadi and Shia faiths in Bangladesh. The local branch of al-Qiada has also claimed the murders of secular bloggers and activists, including the killing this month of a 26-year-old atheist law student who had mocked Islam on his Facebook page.

The latest person to be threatened with murder is another of Bangladesh’s best-known blogger and social activist. He has been issued a warning on Monday as he has suspected link with scathing criticism of the government.

Apart from few arrests, Bangladesh government is yet to take any step. Last year a court sentenced two students to death for the 2013 murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider, the first of a string of attacks targeting secular writers. Another six people were convicted on lesser charges related to Haider’s death.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday blamed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami for the deaths of the two gay activists and accused the groups of trying to destabilize the country.

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