This post was updated April 6, 2015.
On February 26, 2015, Avijit Roy — a Bangladeshi-American writer known for founding the website Mukto-mona, an online network of freethinkers of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent, penning several books, and contributing to the Center for Inquiry’s magazine Free Inquiry — was murdered by a group of men with machetes as he was leaving a book fair in Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 26. Roy’s wife, activist and author Bonya Ahmed was severely injured in the attack.
Since this attack, suspected Islamic extremists have attacked and killed several other bloggers, writers, publishers, and activists prompting people to ask: Are these attacks in Bangladesh a new phenomenon? Or are they part of a historical pattern?
Sadly, they are not new, but part of a pattern. To give the public a glimpse of this pattern, we have put together a list of prominent attacks on writers and bloggers in Bangladesh over the past 15 years.
— April 25, 2016: Xulhaz Mannan, senior editor of Bangladesh’s first LGBT magazine, and Tanay Fahim, a fellow LGBT rights activist, are stabbed to death in Mannan’s home.
— April 23, 2016: Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor at Rajshahi University who also founded a music school and edited a literary magazine, is hacked to death on his way to work.
— April 6, 2016: Nazimuddin Samad, a student at Jagannath University, is attacked and killed by several suspected Islamic extremists while returning home from class.
— October 31, 2015: Faisal Arefin Deepan, a Muslim publisher of secularist books, including those of Avijit Roy, is killed by machete-wielding assailants at his Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house. The same day, three others — Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, Tariq Rahim, and Ranadipam Basu — are shot and stabbed at the Shudhdhoswar publishing house; all survived. You can read our statement here.
— August 7, 2015: Niloy Neel is killed by a group of six men armed with machetes who tricked their way into Niloy’s home in the Goran area of Dhaka, locked Niloy’s partner in a room, and proceeded to hack Niloy to death. You can read our statement here.
— May 12, 2015: Ananta Bijoy Das is killed by a group of men armed with machetes in the northeastern Bangladesh city Sylhet, while on his way to his job at a bank.
— March 30, 2014: Kazi Mahbubur Rahman Raihan and Ullash Das are attacked by members of the student group Islami Chhatra Shibir at their school, Chittagong College. Raihan and Das survived the attack and were later arrested and jailed for insulting Islam.
— March 7, 2013: Saniur Rahman is attacked by a group of men armed with machetes near Purabi Cinema Hall, while returning to his home in Rupnagar Eastern Housing. He would survive.
— February 15, 2013: Ahmed Rajib Haider is killed by a group of men armed with machetes as he was leaving his house in the Mirpur area of Dhaka.
— January 15, 2013: Asif Mohiuddin is attacked by a group of men armed with machetes near his office in the Uttara district of Dhaka. He was later arrested and jailed for insulting Islam. He would survive.
— February 27, 2004: Humayun Azad is attacked by a group of men armed with machetes near the University of Dhaka during the Bangla Academy Book Fair. He would later die.
— January 18, 1999: Poet Shamsur Rahman is attacked by a group of militants while in his residence in Bangladesh; he survives the attack unharmed, but his wife is badly injured.