India: Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin in need of protection

***UPDATE: English PEN has learnt that Taslima Nasrin, who was made an honorary citizen of Paris last July, is to be housed in an artist’s studio paid for by the city. The award-winning writer, who has been in exile from her native Bangladesh for over ten years, is expected to move in in February 2009. For more information, please click here. ***

 

***UPDATE: On 14 February 2008, the Indian Government decided to extend Taslima Nasrin‘s visa, due to expire on 17 February, for a further six months. Nonetheless, the curbs on her freedom will remain. Nasrin explained to the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) that she is not allowed ‘to move out of this place, meet friends, accept guests or return to Kolkata’.  Having been in a Government ‘safe house’ since November 2007, she is desperate to return to Kolkata, believing that her ‘deportation’ was a political move on the part of the Communist Party in order to gain Muslim votes. ***

 

English PEN is seriously concerned for the safety of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, who is in a government safe house in Delhi following violent protests by Muslim extremists in Kolkata, West Bengal. PEN welcomes the efforts by the Indian authorities to provide her with protection, and urges the Indian authorities to ensure her safe passage and return to her home in Kolkata, West Bengal, at the earliest opportunity.

 

Nasrin was moved to the government safe house after violent protests by Muslim extremists in Kolkata, West Bengal, on 21 November 2007, where Nasrin is now living in exile. Ms Nasrin had flown from Calcutta to the western Indian city of Jaipur on 22 November, but she has now been transported to the Indian capital, Delhi, for her safety. According to reports, police in Kolkata used tear gas and baton charges to control crowds calling for her Indian visa to be cancelled. Rioters blocked roads and set cars alight, and at least 43 people were hurt. More than 100 arrests were made. The protests are believed to have been organised by the predominantly Muslim All-India Minority Forum, who say that Taslima Nasrin has ‘seriously hurt Muslim sentiments’ in her writings and are calling for her Indian visa to be revoked. In August this year, she was attacked in the southern city of Hyderabad during a lecture by Muslims upset by her remarks on the Prophet Muhammed and the Koran.

 

Background

 

Novelist, poet and journalist Taslima Nasrin was publicly condemned to death in Bangladesh for ‘blasphemy’ and a reward given for her execution on 16 September 1993 by members of an armed militant Muslim group, due to her novel Lajja (Shame). Instead of condemning the calls for Nasrin’s murder, the Bangladesh authorities charged Nasrin, on 4 June 1994, with ‘deliberate and malicious intention of hurting the religious sentiments’ for an interview given to an Indian newspaper. Nasrin fled to Europe on 10 August 1994 and has since lived abroad.

 

Her trial started in Dhaka on 10 December 1994 in absentia, and has remained pending for several years. Her latest novels continue to be banned by the Bangladeshi authorities on the strength of their allegedly ‘anti-Islamic’ content. More than ten years since she fled Bangladesh, Nasrin still cannot return without fear for her security, and for the past three years she has lived in Kolkata, West Bengal. She has applied for Indian citizenship. Her current visa reportedly expires in February 2008.

 

For more information on Taslima Nasrin, see the following links:

http://taslimanasrin.com

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7108880.stm

 

Please send appeals:

 



  • Expressing serious concern for the safety of Taslima Nasrin, and welcoming the efforts by the Indian authorities to provide her protection;


  • Urging the Indian authorities to ensure her safe passage and return to her home in Kolkata, West Bengal, at the earliest opportunity.

 

Addresses:

 

Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal

Writers Building

Kolkata, India

Fax: 033-22145480

 

It may be most effective, however, to send the above letter care of the Indian representative in London:

 

His Excellency Mr Kamalesh Sharma

India House

Aldwych

London WC2B 4NA

Fax: (020) 7836 4331

 

 

 

 

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/indiabangladeshiwritertaslimanasrininneedofprotection/

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