Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, signed on to following letter, composed by human rights activist Maryam Namazie and signed by over 100 humanist, atheist and freethought leaders, calling for April 25 to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. The letter is below.
In January, 29-year-old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35-year-old atheist blogger involved in the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion.”
Rather than defend freedom of expression and protect freethinkers, the Bangladeshi government has arrested several bloggers, promised to pursue others, and shut down websites and blogs.
We, the undersigned, call for April 25 to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. On this day, we urge groups and individuals to rally at Bangladeshi embassies, contact members of parliament in their countries of residence, highlight the situation, write protest letters, carry out acts of solidarity, Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers, and sign this petition.
We unequivocally condemn the attacks on and threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to guarantee their safety, respect free expression and prosecute Islamists who threaten, attack and harm critics.
Freedom of expression, including to criticize Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.