MEDIA ALERT: U.S. Survivor of Bangladesh Islamist Attacks to Discuss Ongoing Threats

For Immediate Release: November 25, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785


Congressional briefing Dec. 1 – “Human Rights in Bangladesh” 

Bangladeshi-American humanist Bonya Ahmed, badly injured in an attack by Islamists in Dhaka that claimed the life of her husband Avijit Roy, will come to Washington, D.C. to discuss threats to freedom of thought and to the lives of secularists in Bangladesh. On Tuesday, December 1, Ms. Ahmed will take part in a briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in conjunction with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Center for Inquiry, and the PEN American Center

In February of this year, Ms. Ahmed, a U.S. citizen, was badly injured by machete-wielding Islamic extremists linked to Al Qaeda, at a book fair in Dhaka. Her husband, secularist luminary Avijit Roy, was killed, and since then four other writers have been murdered and many others badly injured in what has become a campaign of terror against secularists and advocates of political accountability. Hit lists of targeted bloggers and activists are now publicly available on the Internet, and the Bangladeshi government has done little to address the threat, other than to point fingers and fan flames.

Ms. Ahmed will also spend the week meeting with officials in the Obama Administration and members of Congress.

“A bloody campaign of murder is being carried out with impunity in Bangladesh, and it is extinguishing this vibrant society’s brightest lights,” said Michael De Dora, the Center for Inquiry’s representative to the United Nations. “But Bonya has refused to be terrorized into silence, even after the loss of her husband Avijit Roy. It is crucial we heed her courage, her eloquence, and her indomitable sprit.”

WHAT: Congressional briefing – “Human Rights in Bangladesh”

WHEN: Tuesday, December 1, 10:00am ET

WHERE: 2255 Rayburn House Office Building



Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Congressman Joseph R. Pitts, Co-Chair, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Rafida Bonya Ahmed, a humanist activist, published science author, and moderator of the blog Mukto-Mona, a hub for Bengali-speaking freethinkers and rationalists. She is the widow of assassinated Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Dr. Avijit Roy, who founded Mukto-Mona in 2001, and was murdered by extremists while visiting Dhaka with Ahmed in February 2015. Bonya was seriously injured in the attack.

Michael De Dora, Director of Public Policy, Main Representative to the United Nations, Center for Inquiry

Sahar Chaudhry, Senior Policy Analyst, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center

Bharath Gopalaswamy , Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at