Trying a few foot soldiers is not justice | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:01 AM, February 17, 2021

Trying a few foot soldiers is not justice

Says Rafida Ahmed Bonya

Rafida Ahmed Bonya, wife of slain blogger-writer Avijit Roy, today released a statement following the verdict in the murder case.

"Simply prosecuting a few foot-soldiers -- and ignoring the rise and roots of extremism -- does not mean justice for Avi's death, nor for the deaths of the 'bloggers, publishers and homosexuals' before and after him as part of the serial killings," the statement said.

A Dhaka tribunal today sentenced five members of banned militant outfit Ansar-al-Islam to death and another to life for killing Avijit.

"The main two culprits -- Sayed Ziaul Haque, the top commander, and Akram Hossain, the top operative of the militant group that attacked us -- have never been caught," Bonya said in the statement uploaded on her verified Facebook profile.

She was also injured in the attack that killed her husband in 2015.

"Last week, in the verdict following the murder of Avi's publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan, in 2015, we learned that Haque continued to mastermind the serial killings of other secular writers and publishers for eight months after Avi and I were attacked. And yet, Bangladeshi authorities failed to put him behind bars."

"Avi died, I barely survived and then the killing spree continued for another year," she put simply.

She pointed out that Dipan's verdict from last week includes a line that states, in 2015, money used to flow in to kill "bloggers, publishers and homosexuals in the country".

"I want to know who has investigated this flow of money." she said.

"What will these verdicts accomplish, if we don't get to the source of the money -- or rather, to the source of the killings?"

She also said that in the last six years, not one person investigating the case in Bangladesh reached out to her, even though she is a direct witness and victim of the attack.

"In January, the state lawyer in the case publicly lied, saying that I did not agree to be a witness in the trial. The truth is, no one from Bangladesh's government or the prosecution has ever contacted me."

However, the Assistant Public Prosecutor Golam Shariar Khan claimed to The Daily Star that she was summoned on December 11, 2019, to appear as a witness on December 30.

In the statement, Bonya questioned certain aspects of the investigation.

"On February 26, 2015, Avi and I were invited to meet a group of science writers. The people who organised that event kept us waiting for hours. Finally, we met the group in the evening. After the event, we were attacked and Avi was killed. Were the organisers of that event ever investigated? What was the outcome?" she asked.

She further questioned why an alleged militant involved with the attack on her and her husband was killed in an extra-judicial killing.

"Today, civilised countries cannot get away with extrajudicial killings. But in 2016, Bangladeshi police carried out the extrajudicial killing [or 'crossfire', as it's commonly called in Bangladesh] of Mukul Rana 'Sharif.' He was reportedly a top operative of the militant group that attacked us. Sharif was in police custody for months before the authorities killed him. Why was Sharif killed?"

Bonya concluded by saying, "Bangladesh's government has become more autocratic since we were attacked. Freedom of speech has been restricted further, secular writers, bloggers, activists were forced to leave the country during and after 2015, a harsher Digital Security Act has been enacted, and bloggers, writers, publishers have been persecuted for their writings on a regular basis.

"Bangladesh's authorities are increasingly friendly with Hefazat-e-Islam, the Islamist group of madrasa teachers and students that demanded 'the heads' of secular writers and bloggers in 2014."

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