We learned early this morning that blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death with machetes as he walked to work:
While there’s a lot we don’t know, one piece of information that has come out since his death is that Das had been invited to Stockholm by the Swedish branch of PEN (the same group that recently gave a Courage award to Charlie Hebdo).
Unfortunately, according to the International Humanist and Ethical Union,
… we have been informed that his application for a visa to travel to Sweden, under invitation from Swedish PEN, was rejected last week by the Swedish embassy in Dhaka, on the basis that he might seek to remain in Sweden.
Now, Swedish PEN is demanding more information on why Das’ application was rejected:
… we need to look back at the decision that the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka sent after they rejected his visa application which he forwarded in his email to the Swedish PEN on the same day. In the final lines we read: “You belong to a category of applicants where there is always a risk involved when granting a visa that you will not leave Schengen area after the visit. Furthermore, the purpose of your trip is not urgent enough to grant you visa.”
Swedish PEN therefore demands a detailed and credible explanation of why the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka chose not to grant Ananta [Bijoy Das] the visa he needed to fulfill the Swedish PEN’s invitation to speak in Stockholm — a invitation that would have guaranteed his stay in Stockholm as Swedish PEN’s guest for two weeks upon his arrival, that was supposed to happen last weekend, and which could have ensured that he would still be here with us today.
What proof did the embassy have that Das was not going to come back? Was that standard applied to everyone who requests a travel visa, or just known atheists? Is this just another example of the Bangladeshi government looking the other way when a critic of religion is under threat?
I hope they can get some answers.
(Thanks to Shabnam for the link)