Online writers and activists must be protected
THE serial killing of bloggers in Bangladesh, with little development as far as catching and punishing the assassins are concerned, has compelled the Human Rights Forum (Bangladesh) to call upon the government to provide protection to online writers/activists, many of them still on the hit-list of religious extremists. Rajib Haider, Avijit Roy, Oyasiqur Rahman and Ananta Bijoy Das -- all killed by fanatics -- were on the hit-list of 84 individuals of the militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team as reported by a Bangla daily. Ominously Hefajat- e-Islam had given to the Home Minister, the same 84 names of people this organisation considered 'anti-Islam'.
Such 'coincidences' point to increasing threats to individuals who dare to post on blogs, opinions that might be construed as anti-religion. What is not palatable is the government's seeming reluctance to deal with such organised, serial killings, with a strong, full-proof strategy. The HRFB has demanded an independent commission to probe the murders because of its misgivings regarding the impartiality of law enforcement agencies.
The recent death threats by apparently the same organisation to Dhaka University's Vice Chancellor and nine other prominent people that include university professors and social activists should be more reason for the government to catch these fanatical, anti-state criminals and bring them to book. Terror and militancy can only be combated if the government steps up its counter-terror strategies with sincerity and zeal.