On 26 February 2015, bloggers Avijit Roy and Bonya Ahmed were viciously attacked by unknown assailants close to the Dhaka University campus in Bangladesh. Roy died soon afterwards whilst Ahmed was severely injured.
Last month, following the brutal murders of two more of our Bangladeshi colleagues, English PEN called on writers around the world to show their solidarity with the families of those who had lost their lives and with the many other writers currently in grave danger in Bangladesh. More than 150 writers including Margaret Atwood, Amitav Ghosh, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Yann Martel, Salman Rushdie and Colm Tóibín joined PEN to write to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, condemning the deaths and urging her to do all in her power to ensure that the events are not repeated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. A further 150 writers have since added their support to PEN’s appeal. We have yet to receive a response.
Bonya Ahmed will be visiting the United Kingdom next week to deliver the 2015 Voltaire Lecture, hosted by the British Humanist Association. On 2 July, Ahmed, who has sworn to continue the struggle against censorship and violence, will speak out about her continuing battle for free expression.
We hope that many of you will attend the event and help to once again show our solidarity with Bonya Ahmed and the many Bangladeshi writers currently at risk.
For full details and to book your ticket, please visit the British Humanist Association website.
Photo credit: The Bobs Award Ceremony. Rafida Bonya Ahmed, Bangladesh, representing Bonya’s Blog, winner of The Bobs Social Change Award © DW/M. Magunia