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State must offer better protection to writers, publishers and others threatened by extremists in Bangladesh – Zeid

GENEVA (5 November 2015) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today strongly condemned the continuing violent attacks against bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh, and called on the Government to take urgent, concerted measures to ensure the protection of all those who are being threatened by extremists operating in the country.

“At least five Bangladeshi writers and publishers as well as two foreigners have been violently murdered this year in Bangladesh and many more attacked and threatened, apparently by groups that believe they have the right to impose their views on others through wanton violence,” the High Commissioner said.

“There is an urgent need for a concerted response to prevent more killings by promptly bringing the perpetrators to justice, and by taking effective measures to protect writers, publishers and any other people in Bangladesh who are being threatened with violence. The State must not allow extremist groups to take matters into their own hands.”

In the latest attacks last Saturday, publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan was hacked to death in his office in Dhaka and, in a separate incident, three people at another publishing house in the city were reported wounded. Dipan had published the work of a prominent blogger, Avjit Roy, who himself was hacked to death in February this year. Three other bloggers have been murdered this year, all of whom had written about sensitive social, political and religious issues. Many others have received threats on social media and there are hit-lists published on Facebook targeting the writers. Some of those threatened have gone into hiding or fled the country.

“I urge political and religious leaders to consistently and unequivocally condemn this spate of vicious killings and threats against writers and publishers and anyone else who may be targeted by these takfiri groups,” Zeid said.

Zeid stressed that the State must ensure that journalists, civil society actors and human rights defenders are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion without fear for their safety.

“When people have been explicitly threatened with violence or murder, it is the duty of the State to provide them with effective protection,” the High Commissioner said.

ENDS

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