Niladri Chatterjee, known by his pen name Niloy Neel, an online activist and secularist protester, has been found dead in his home, according to early reports, his body brutally hacked. The four or five assailants had apparently gained access to his building by posing as a tenant, shortly after Juma prayers this afternoon.
Neel had posted on Facebook as recently as 13 May that he was followed after a public protest meeting, a protest to demand justice for previously murdered blogger Ananta Bijoy Das. After being followed, Neel became worried for his own security, as are a large number of writers and bloggers in Bangladesh who have expressed atheist or humanist views, or campaigned in opposition to fundamentalist Islamist politics.
Niloy was an organizer of a Science and Rationalist Association. He had completed a Masters in Philosophy from Dhaka University in 2013, before working for an NGO. He posted about his atheist views on Facebook and joined the wider protest movement against Islamist war criminals.
IHEU President Andrew Copson said, “This latest murder demonstrates once again that the culture of impunity for these Islamist vigilantes in Bangladesh has become firmly entrenched. Humanists internationally are calling on global civil society and democratic governments to stand with the bloggers of Bangladesh whose rights to freedom of religion or belief, to freedom of expression, and to life are being routinely negated. Freedom of speech and the rule of law are being undermined and the Government of Bangladesh needs to act to restore them or continue to lose some of its bravest, most thoughtful, and inspiring citizens, to its continuing shame.”
Statement from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Director of Communications, Bob Churchill:
Already some Bangla media is downplaying this killing, in some cases not linking it to the spate of gruesome machete murders of atheist bloggers, writers, and secularist activists that has killed three men already this year.
As a worldwide community of humanists we are sickened at the apparent continued operation of Islamist hit squads with near complete impunity. Bangladesh government apathy and explicit political dissociation from “atheists” hinders any attempt to break these networks. Apparent failure to pursue the most obvious lines of inquiry even when initial arrests are made, and media manipulation resulting in conflicting stories, further makes reportage difficult and police operations opaque.
We urge all international embassies in Bangladesh to treat requests for humanitarian support from all verified ‘atheist bloggers’ on Islamist hit lists and other activists with the utmost urgency and seriousness.
IHEU has been able to help in the process of verifying some individual claims for national authorities, and will continue to do so wherever possible.
IHEU has raised the issue of the anti-atheist Bangladesh murders at the United Nations Human Rights Council and in private meetings with the EU’s External Action Service and other human rights organisations. IHEU continues to work with individual activists under threat, and with other organisations trying to provide security and safe passage for all those named on Islamist “hit lists”.