While we remember the dead, let us also remember those fighting to live

bangladeshibloggersToday 25 April has been declared a day of mourning in Bangladesh for the victims of the nation’s worst factory disaster. The death toll of the collapsed garment factory has risen to 160; more than a 1000 have been injured. Rescuers continue to hunt for survivors.

Those who died in the building collapse did not need to die. Workers saw cracks in the building the day before but were ignored.

Today is also the International Day to Defend Bangladesh’s Bloggers, four of whom are imprisoned, and more than 80 others who face death threats by Islamists. Here too their safety and lives have been ignored by the Government.

In both these cases, the Government has failed to defend fundamental rights. Unfortunately, it is too late for the many garment factory workers. But there is still time to save Bangladesh’s bloggers. The Government must act before it is too late.

On 25 April, whist we remember the dead, we must also remember those who are fighting to live.

Upload your actions and protests on social media sites. Join the day’s Facebook Page. Contact the Bangladeshi embassy in your country of residence and sign the petition now.  Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers and more.

You can also join protest actions taking place in the following places:

UK

  • London:  Trafalgar Square. 2-3pm.

USA

  • Washington, DC: Embassy of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. 4:30 pm ET. Details here.
  • New York City: Office of the Consulate General of Bangladesh, 211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017. 4:30 pm ET
    Will begin at Grand Central Station, move to the consulate, and then the United Nations building. Details here.
  • Columbia, MO: Speakers’ Circle, Columbia, MO. 12 pm CT. Hosted by MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheist, Secular Humanist, and Agnostics). Details here.

Defend Bangladeshi Bloggers, Events, Ex-Muslims in Morocco and More

bangladeshibloggersHello

We are writing to give you an update on some important actions and events.

25 APRIL: INTERNATIONAL DAY TO DEFEND BANGLADESHI BLOGGERS

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and others have called for 25 April to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. Please spread the word, sign this petition today, and stand with and for Bangladeshi freethinkers.

As you may know, in January, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35 year old atheist blogger involved in the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”. Rather than prosecute the Islamists, the government has arrested some bloggers and shut down blogs and sites.

We unequivocally condemn the attacks on and threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to guarantee their safety, respect free expression and prosecute Islamists who threaten, attack and harm critics.

On 25 April, we urge groups and individuals to rally at Bangladeshi embassies, contact members of parliament in their countries of residence, highlight the situation, write protest letters, carry out acts of solidarity, Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers and more.

You can find more information here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Please don’t forget about our upcoming events and join us:

On 15 June, we will celebrate the CEMB’s sixth anniversary at a luncheon with keynote speaker Kenan Malik. Other speakers/acts include comedian Kate Smurthwaite and CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie. The luncheon starts at 12pm for 1230pm start at a central London location.

Book your tickets today. [Read more...]

On 25 April 2013 we stand with Bangladeshi bloggers and activists!

bangladesh_bloggers_arrested_apr2013_demotix_468In January, 29 year old blogger Asif Mohiuddin was stabbed. In February, 35 year old atheist blogger involved in the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib, was brutally killed. Islamists continue to threaten prominent bloggers and have called for the “execution of 84 atheist bloggers for insulting religion”.

Rather than defend freedom of expression and protect freethinkers, the Bangladeshi government has arrested several bloggers, promised to pursue others, and shut down websites and blogs.

We, the undersigned, call for 25 April to be an international day to defend Bangladesh’s bloggers and activists. On this day, we urge groups and individuals to rally at Bangladeshi embassies, contact members of parliament in their countries of residence, highlight the situation, write protest letters, carry out acts of solidarity, Tweet #Bangladesh #Bloggers, and sign this petition.

We unequivocally condemn the attacks on and threats against atheist, secularist and freethinking bloggers and call on the Bangladeshi government to guarantee their safety, respect free expression and prosecute Islamists who threaten, attack and harm critics.

Freedom of expression, including to criticise Islam and Islamism as well as to blaspheme, is a basic right.

Signed (organisations mentioned also endorse the day of action): [Read more...]

Stop threats and murder of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh

The threats, intimidation and murder of atheists in Bangladesh continue, and now Islamists are demanding the state give them a hand with the killing.

Islamists are calling for the death penalty for atheist bloggers for supposedly blasphemous blogs or else face the prospect of Islamist groups descending on the capital, Dhaka. The state’s response? A shut down of blogs, the ordered deletion of posts and the establishment of an intelligence panel looking to censor future material deemed to have “defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed”. Meanwhile “progressives” defend the accused, not by demanding their freedom of conscience and expression, but by pretending they are not atheists at all.

Shame on the Bangladeshi government for siding with the far-right Islamists and shame on the “progressives” who apologise for the free thought of others.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain stands in solidarity with atheists and rationalists who stand for reason, universal human rights and secularism and calls on the public to defend their freedom of expression and rights to life and security.

Hands off atheist bloggers now!

***

Here’s a piece Taslima Nasrin did on the matter in February.

Here a piece I did about killing of atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib.

Amnesty International: You keep getting it wrong

bangladeshToday, there will be a demonstration against Amnesty International for its disproportionate support of the Islamist perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. I am also vehemently opposed to the death penalty in all cases (it’s nothing short of state-sponsored murder), but Amnesty could do much more to support the victims and the demand for justice.

Of course, Amnesty seems to be getting it wrong quite a bit and for a while now.

The Centre for Secular Space recently issued a report outlining the organisation’s links with Islamism, and also highlighting the case of Gita Sahgal, once head of Amnesty’s Gender Unit who was suspended for criticising the organisation’s links to Cage Prisoners.

Just this month, one of Amnesty’s Board members even wrote a piece in defence of Sharia law! Amnesty keeps saying how impartial they are but somehow it ends up being partial towards Islamism.

I know Amnesty takes pride in being criticised from governments and non-state actors alike as an indication that they are doing something right but when the criticism keeps coming from those on the frontlines of human rights work, surely they need a rethink (and more than one apology).

Talk about losing one’s moral compass!

More information on today’s Ademonstration is below.

DEMONSTRATE AGAINST AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Support Bangladesh’s War victims not the perpetrators

For more information:
Iftekhar Muntakim: [email protected] Mob 07863 133593, Masud Rana: [email protected]
Ajanta Deb Roy: [email protected] Mob 07403 216980

This Thursday, 28th of February 2013, 3pm-5pm Bangladeshis living in London are going to gather in front of Amnesty International’s office to protest against the misinformed reports Amnesty International has been publishing regarding the war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh. [Read more...]

La lucha continua

Atheist blogger, 35 year old Ahmed Rajib known by his online identity Thaba Baba, had his head hacked apart with a machete one day after attending anti-Islamist protests in Bangladesh.

This is the usual Islamist response to any opposition: assassination, decapitation and sheer barbarity.

But nothing – not even the brutal murder of yet one more of our beloved – can intimidate the ever increasing rage.

The biggest protests Bangladesh has seen in decades against the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and well-known war-criminal, Abdul Quader Mollah, and the female factor, are yet another example of how the new age of revolutions can bring an end to Islamist politics.

The death penalty even for the most vile amongst us is never the solution though.

After decades of Islamist politics of death, we must move to one that defends human life and rights.

La lucha continua… We will carry on the work of Ahmed Rajib…

Bangladesh Genocide: What Human Rights, Anti-racist and Peace Organisations won’t tell you

Tonight, the Centre for Secular Space is hosting a conversation on the Bangladesh Genocide: What Human Rights, Anti-racist and Peace Organisations won’t tell you.

Gita Sahgal, co-founder of the Centre for Secular Space talks to Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui (former Islamist, now Muslim reformer) and Asif Munier (pro-Jonmo 71, children of the Martyrs of the Liberation War) about the survivors’ campaign for justice, genocide denial and the promotion of the Jamaat-e -Islami in Britain to the detriment of secular Muslims and ex-Muslims.

Here is more information on the event:

Date: 27 November 2012
Time: 7:00 PM- 9:00pm
Venue: SOAS, Russell Square College Buildings
Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

To register please email [email protected]

Teacher arrested in Bangladesh for having Taslima Nasreen’s novel

Please send messages of solidarity with the teacher to [email protected].

Press Release

We, the undersigned strongly protest the arrest of Mr. Yunus Ali, the Head Teacher of KC Technical and Business Management College of Pirojpur, on 4 January, 2012. Mr. Ali was arrested for having allegedly kept a copy of writer Taslima Nasreen’s novel “Lajja” (“Shame”) in the college library. This arrest is a clear breach of the right to freedom of speech and shows the presence of a broad range of communal and generally reactionary forces in our society.

We believe that the banning of books clearly violates the right to freedom of thought and expression, which constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic and pluralistic society during the information age of the 21st century and is enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh. Dissenting ideas and opinions should be faced through a healthy debate, not censorship and arrest. A state’s weakness, intolerance and imprudence are revealed when a literary work is banned in this manner. [Read more...]