***Update*** (11/4): According to one source who knew him well, Faisal Arefin Dipon was not an atheist. My apologies for making that assumption. It’s even more courageous, perhaps, that Dipon was willing to publish books by atheists even though he didn’t necessarily agree himself.
For the fifth time since the beginning of the year, an atheist has been killed in Bangladesh.
Now, 43-year-old Faisal Arefin Dipon (below) has been found dead in his office. He had put out some of Avijit Roy’s books as head of the Jagriti Prakashani publishing house.
His father discovered his body:
“I saw him lying upside down and in a massive pool of blood. They slaughtered his neck. He is dead,” his father, the writer Abul Kashem Fazlul Haq, said, quoted by AFP.
In addition, just hours prior to Dipon’s death, there was another attempt to end the lives of other people connected to Avijit Roy. Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, who also published Roy’s works, and two atheist writers, Ranadeep Basu and Tareque Rahim, were attacked by armed men in the offices of the Shuddho-Shor publishing house:
The attackers were armed with machetes and firearms, and it is likely the publisher Ahmed Rashid Tutul, who had received direct death threats from Islamists unhappy with output, was the primary target. The six or so attackers appear to have tricked their way in representing themselves as book-buyers.
All three were injured, though Rahim and Tutul appear to be in critical condition.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union was quick to denounce the Bangladeshi government:
IHEU Director of Communications, Bob Churchill, comments: “We know what comes next because we’ve seen it before. In a few weeks or months, police and media will perform a merry dance, arresting and parading a few different groups or individuals detained in connection with the latest attack. They’ll parade someone for the cameras. Then there will be no trial, no true justice. And the same thing will happen again and again.
“How many more times must we see these bloody and callous acts of hatred before the authorities wake up to the true problem. Officials must stop threatening to arrest, and stop blaming atheists themselves for writing books and blogs. To victim-blame them will continue to empower the fundamentalist killers and undermine the very basis of secular democracy itself.
“Though there are many similarities with earlier outrages, today’s coordinated attacks may represent a significant emboldening and an up-step in the campaign to terrorize and silence the voices of humanists, atheists and secularists. The [Bangladeshi] authorities must now accept that their failure to achieve justice and the appeasement of fundamentalist violence is not working, and is costing life after life.”
Mutko-Mona, the website where many of the Bangladeshi bloggers wrote, shared in IHEU’s frustration with the government:
It is Jihad and killing of such kafirs is sanctioned in Islam. But what the shameless Bangladesh government has to say? It is a deaf and dumb government. Its intelligence system has completely failed or does not want to cross path with the Islamists. The law enforcement authorities have come up with stereotype statements. The killer criminals will not be arrested and if arrested will not be prosecuted as per law. Many clues will be erased, many more will be ignored. There will not be any pressure on the government from civil society of Bangladesh. It has already gone in to oblivion in the question of Islamists. It is either too scared to come out openly against the Islamists or has become their subtle supporter.
***Update 1***: The Center For Inquiry has issued this statement:
“Why does the government of Bangladesh continue to allow its own people to live in constant terror of being hacked to death my roving marauders?” asked Michael De Dora, CFI’s main representative to the United Nations, who worked closely with Avijit Roy to organize worldwide protests in 2013. “How many more of the country’s bravest and brightest lights must be stamped out before the government takes definitive action to protect freedom of expression and the lives of brilliant writers, scholars, and activists?”
Added De Dora, “Not only has the Bangladeshi government not done enough to address this emergency and keep its commitments to international treaties, but worse, the prime minister himself has emboldened the killers by placing blame on the victims for offending religious feelings. Religions are ideas; they don’t need to be protected. Ideas don’t need rights — people do.”
“The government should immediately strengthen its efforts against terror groups expected to be carrying out these attacks, and provide assistance and protection to threatened individuals, including the survivors of today’s attacks.”
***Update 2***: The Centre For Inquiry Canada has issued this statement:
Eric Adriaans, National Executive Director of CFI Canada said, “We have learned from our Bangladeshi friends that one of the individuals who was attacked today is the spouse of a Canadian citizen. We implore the Canadian government to offer compassionate support to this family and indeed to all of the people targeted by religious extremists for violent execution. I will paraphrase a question I heard from one of our Bangladeshi contacts today….. is it really so difficult for a country to offer asylum to these 40 or 50 people?”
CFIC also offers its deepest condolences and sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of the people who have been viciously murdered, attacked, persecuted and harassed in their own homes, businesses and the streets of their communities. Kevin Smith, CFIC’s Board Chair said, “We call on all Canadians, including Canada’s religious leaders, to reject faith-based bigotry and to join CFIC in our call for compassion and relief for these terrorized victims.”
***Update 3***: The American Humanist Association has issued this statement:
The American Humanist Association joins the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHUE) in demanding an end to the atrocities committed against humanist and secular writers, publishers and activists in Bangladesh. The murder of Faysal Arefin Dipon, publisher of slain humanist writer Avijit Roy, as well as the attacks on Tareq Rahim, Ahmed Rashid Tutul and Ranadipam Basu, demonstrate the pressing need for Bangladeshi authorities to uphold the human right to freedom of expression. The American Humanist Association joins the IHEU in its call for justice to be brought against the religious extremists who continue to terrorize secular activists in Bangladesh.