27 February 2015
PEN International is appalled by the murder of prominent secular writer and blogger Avijit Roy on 26 February 2015. The motive for the murder is unknown, but according to his family he had received numerous threats from religious extremists in connection with his secular writings. PEN calls for a full investigation into the murder of Avijit Roy so that those responsible are brought to justice.
Avijit Roy, an American citizen, is founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog which champions liberal secular writing, and has written at least ten books including Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith). He was attacked by two unknown assailants outside Dhaka university on Thursday evening as he and his wife were returning from a book fair. According to eye witnesses, they were dragged from a bicycle rickshaw before being attacked with machetes. His wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, was critically injured in the attack. Police have launched an investigation and recovered the machetes used in the attack, but could not confirm the identity or affiliation of the perpetrators.
Roy is the second blogger to have been murdered in Bangladesh in the past two years, and the fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004 (see previous action).
Hardline Islamist groups have demanded the public execution of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam.
PEN is alarmed at the ongoing pattern of violence against writers and journalists in Bangladesh, who appear to be targeted with impunity solely for the peaceful expression of their views, and calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that the necessary measures are taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.
For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER, Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, Email: Cathy.McCann@pen-international.org