Humanist, freethinker, intellectual, iconoclast and fierce critic of Islam, Bangladeshi Prof. Humayun Azad, 57, was found dead in his University residence in Munich, Germany on 11 August 2004.
Prof. Azad came to the world’s attention when he was grievously wounded in an attack by Islamic fundamentalists in Dhaka in February 2004. The attack followed publication of his novel Pak Sar Jamin Saad Baad, which exposed the Islamic fundamentalists in his country.
His son was recently kidnapped by fundamentalists whose aim was to find out Prof. Azad’s whereabouts. Faxes had recently been sent to newspapers in Bangladesh threatening that he would be killed if he did not recant before September. In late July, Prof. Azad wrote a moving letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and other political leaders calling on them to restore freedom in Bangladesh and pleading for protection to himself and his family.
The author of nearly 50 books, Prof. Azad came to Munich just a few days before, to begin a nine-month fellowship with PEN international. He was in touch with IHEU representatives and IHEU was about to launch a campaign to ensure protection for him and his family.
IHEU now calls for a full police investigation into the circumstances of Prof. Azad’s death, and urges the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to do what is necessary to prevent Bangladesh’s further slide into lawlessness. The fundamentalists who were responsible for the physical attack on and mental torture of Prof. Azad must not go unpunished.