The United Nations has expressed deep concern over recent attacks on journalists and intellectuals in Bangladesh and called for the respect of basic rights in the country, including the rights of people to freedom of expression.
“…it's a matter of tremendous concern that different journalists and other intellectuals have been attacked,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said at a regular briefing at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday.
Replying to a query whether he or any other UN official will visit Bangladesh for discussion, Farhan said, "I don't have any high-level travel to Bangladesh to announce at this stage… But you're aware of our concerns.”
Blogger and online activist Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, 27, was hacked to death in broad daylight in Tejgaon Industrial area of Dhaka on Monday morning.
The UN in Bangladesh expressed its abhorrence at the killing, which is part of a worrying trend of attacks against online activists, said Robert Watkins, UN's resident coordinator in Dhaka.
In a statement, Watkins added that the UN was concerned that this murder contributed to a reduction in the freedom of expression and opinion in the country.
Voicing its concern, the US Embassy in Dhaka posted a statement on Facebook yesterday, saying, “We are horrified and deeply saddened by the murder of Washiqur Rahman Babu, and we offer our condolences to his family and friends.”
The statement adds that the United States firmly supports freedom of expression for all people. "This is a universal human right, both in Bangladesh and throughout the world.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh as they confront religious intolerance and violence.”
The murder has shocked the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) too, reported a correspondent from London.
Bob Churchill, director of communications at the organisation, commented, “We are deeply saddened that yet another rationalist voice has been so brutally silenced in this vile backlash against bloggers. Our thoughts are with Washiqur's family and we stand in solidarity with the many individual thinkers and writers from Bangladesh who exercise their right to discuss religion frankly and critically."
He said, "This is a human right, freedom of expression, and it should be respected and protected in Bangladesh, as it should be respected and protected everywhere.”
'RESULT OF PAST IMPUNITIES'
Meanwhile, the Forum for Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 yesterday said the murder of Oyasiqur was a continuation of the militants' campaign against liberal intellectuals and bloggers, which started through the attack on unorthodox writer Prof Humayun Azad in 2004.
In a statement, the anti-war criminal platform reiterated that the murder was the result of past impunities, and demanded immediate arrest of all culprits.
It also questioned the role of patrol police at the time of killing and hailed the courage of two hermaphrodites, who came to Oyasiqur's rescue and caught two of the three attackers.
The attack came one month after writer-blogger Avijit Roy was killed in a similar fashion, by cleaver-wielding youths.
Such killings might not have happened if the previous attacks were investigated properly and the people behind those given harsh punishment, the statement said, alleging that fundamentalists and Jamaat-e-Islami men pervaded every nook and corner of the administration.
"We renew the demand that Jamaat-e-Islami, which is the epicentre of all fundamentalism and terrorism, be banned politically and rooted out socially, economically and culturally," the statement read.