Bangladeshi authorities' failure to take decisive action against violent groups responsible for at least 10 killings over the last two months has created a climate of impunity, says Amnesty International (AI).
In the current climate of impunity, increasing numbers of people have reported facing threats that the authorities have repeatedly failed to address, the global rights body claimed in a statement issued on Monday.
“The Bangladeshi government has often claimed to be a bulwark against intolerance, but their actions indicate otherwise,” Champa Patel, AI regional director for South Asia, was quoted as saying.
“Instead of devoting their energies to ending this wave of killings, it has spurned calls for protection and even sought to blame the victims for the threats they face.”
Champa said the move was in contravention of the government's international obligations to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and religion.
“The brazen announcement by violent groups that they will continue targeting those they perceive as 'insulting Islam' should shake the Bangladeshi authorities out of their complacency,”
“Ignoring the problem is not a solution.”
She also said the authorities must categorically condemn these killings, carry out a prompt, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation, deliver justice for the victims, hold the perpetrators accountable, and protect those still under threat.
The AI statement referred to the recent killings of Sunil Gomes, a 65-year-old Christian man, in Natore, and Mahmuda Akter, wife of Babul Akter, a senior anti-terrorism official of police, in Chittagong.
It said the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunil and described it as a “part of series of operations” it is intent on carrying out in Bangladesh.
On Mahmuda's killing, the AI statement quoted Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal as saying that he suspected the murder was related to her husband's work -- investigating earlier killings.
Since April, the AI has recorded the killings of secular bloggers, LGBTI activists, a university professor, a doctor and members of minority religious communities.
“No person should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality or religion,” said Champa, referring to the murder of Xulhaz Mannan, the editor of “Roopban”, Bangladesh's only LGBTI publication, last April.