Friday, August 7, 2015

Bangladesh blogger Niloy Chowdhury hacked to death in Dhaka

Unidentified assailants entered an apartment building and hacked a 40-year-old blogger to death in Bangladesh's capital on Friday, police and friends said. Niloy Chowdhury who ran his Facebook page as Niloy Neel was found dead after at least five assailants posing as potential tenants looking for accommodation entered the house in Dhaka's Gotan area and killed him, said officier-in-charge of Khilgaon Police Station, Mustafizur Rahman. 

The motive behind the killing was not immediately clear. Chowdhury was known to his friends as a secular blogger. His friends say it was unbelievable that he was targeted. The killing on Friday was the fourth this year after a Bangladeshi-American blogger was hacked to death in February in a deadly attack on the Dhaka University campus.

One month later another blogger, Oyeshiqur Rahman, who used to write about secularism was attacked in Dhaka. In May, blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed in northeastern city of Sylhet. Investigators say all the killings were related to blogging criticizing radical Islam. Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent and a relatively unknown group Ansar Bangla 7 claimed the responsibility for the previous attacks. No group has claimed responsibility for Chowdhury's murder yet. 

Imran H Sarker, leader of a secular group that campaigns for capital punishment for war criminals, involving the country's independence war in 1971, said Chowdhury was an active member of his group "Gana Jagaran Manch". The platform is vocal for banning Bangladesh's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which had campaigned against Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971. In his Facebook post, Chowdhury criticized radical Islam.

After the news of his murder spread, one of his friends wrote on Chowdhury's Facebook timeline that "You won't be forgotten". Another wrote: "Dada (brother), I can't believe, you are no more." 

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NB: This writer sums up the challenge we face in differing degrees all over South Asia. The state has withdrawn its protection from citizens who adopt unconventional ideas or practices. When the state refuses to defend even the right to life of a person because he/she is an atheist/apostate/kafir etc, we have yet another version of authoritarianism. When fanatics celebrate the brutal murder of people who dare to think differently, we have an Orwellian dystopia come to life - DS The death squads of fundamentalist Islam have taken the life of yet another Bangladeshi blogger. This time it was Ananta Bijoy Das in Sylhet who also edited a rationalist journal named Jukti. Some months back, Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman were killed in in Dhaka while Rafida Ahmed Bonyasurvived with serious injuries. The champions of death promise more. Two years ago, the Hefazat-e-Islam, an Islamist movement based in madrassas, delivered to the Home Ministry a list of 84 atheist bloggers they wanted punished for blasphemy.

Also see
The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)