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Blogger Ananta murder in Sylhet Protests at home and abroad

24The killing of Bloger Ananta Bijoy Das has drawn widespread protest at home and abroad. Condemning the incident and demanding exemplary punishment, the United Nations (UN), United States (US), European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), France, Sweden on Wednesday issued separate statements.  Besides, different rights bodies, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI) and some opposition political parties expressed grave concern over the issue.

The Resident Coordinator of United Nations (UN) in Bangladesh Robert Watkins in a statement said, “The UN calls for thorough investigations of these crimes in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.” “It also reiterates this call for the previous cases and to bring about speedy closure to the investigations, and to charge the individuals involved”, the statement added.It further said: “The UN is concerned that these attacks are part of a larger trend of intolerance in Bangladeshi society which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”Condemning the brutal killing of Ananta, the EU Bangladesh office in its Facebook statement said, ‘The EU reiterates its strong attachment to freedom of expression as an essential element of a democratic society and calls for a prompt investigation to bring perpetrators to justice,’ the statement added.

 The EU ambassador Pierre Mayaudon also expressed his condolences to the victim’s family.”The US government has also condemned the brutal. Acting Deputy Spokesperson of US State Department Jeff Rathke expressed their view about the killing during daily press briefing on Tuesday.

Jeff Rathke said: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. We hope that the Bangladeshi authorities will find and bring the perpetrators to justice, and that all Bangladeshis strive to ensure space for the peaceful expression of ideas without fear of violence, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”When asked about the culprits, he said: “Well, this has just happened. There is an investigation ongoing which the Bangladeshi authorities will lead, so I would refer you to them for any information of that sort. “Of course, we are in contact with the government of Bangladesh about the case, but I don’t have any announcements to make.

“British High commissioner Robert Gibson condemned the killing loudly. “I am shocked by the incident and condemn the brutal murder of Ananta,” he tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. The diplomat also emphasised that there must be space for free speech in Bangladesh.Besides, condemning the killing, France reiterated its attachment to the freedom of opinion and expression, including online expression. France ambassador to Bangladesh Sophie Aubert conveyed the massage through issuing a press release on Wednesday.

The statement said, “This murder occurred three months after the murder of writer and blogger Avijit Roy, and one month after the murder of blogger Washiqur Rahman. France calls on the authorities to investigate these revolting acts.”On the other hand, Human Rights Watch said Ananta’s murder was part of an alarming trend of intolerance toward freedom of religion and speech in Bangladesh.”This pattern of vicious attacks on secular and atheist writers not only silences the victims but also sends a chilling message to all in Bangladesh who espouse independent views on religious issues,” the US-based body’s Asia Director Brad Adams said in a statement. Bringing ‘swift’ justice to those responsible for the attacks is needed “to make clear public statements that attacking freedom of religion and expression will not be tolerated”, the statement quoted Adams.Swedish PEN, which defends freedom of expression, it would demand an explanation from the authorities, claiming Ananta Bijoy Das would be still alive, if the visa would be granted.”We want to know where the directive came from,

” Swedish PEN official Elnaz Baghlanian told AFP.Imran Sarker, head of a Bangladeshi bloggers’ association, said Das was an atheist who wrote blogs for Mukto-Mona, a website formerly moderated by Avijit Roy.Imran told The New Nation: “The government should not stay in power, if they are not able to bring the perpetrators to justice. One after another incident is happening and they are not able to do anything.

“Debasish Debu, spokesman of Sylhet Ganajaoran Mancha, said that Ananta was receiving threats for his writing and that their frequency increased after the killing of Roy. “He had written about superstitions.” On the other hand, though 36 hours have been elapsed, police are yet to make any arrest relating to the murder.The victim’s elder brother Ratneshwar Das filed the case with Airport Police Station accusing four unidentified persons on Tuesday night, said Gousul Hossain, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the thana.Inspector Nurul Alam of the police station has been deputed to handle the case, the police official said.Meanwhile, local Ganajagoron Moncho activists observed a half-day hartal peacefully in Sylhet city beginning from 6:00am on Wednesday in protest of the sensational killing of Ananta.In the beginning of hartal, pickets took position in Court Point area. Later, they brought out a procession. After parading different roads, the procession ended in front of Surma Market.Besides, a group of Ganajagaran Mancha activists took position in city’s Zindabazar area. They later brought out a procession that ended on the premises of Shahid Minar.In their speeches, the organizers demanded immediate arrest of the killers.Earlier on Tuesday, progressive Student Alliance and Ganajagoron Mancha’s Sylhet units called the hartal in Sylhet city.

The progressive Student Alliance and Ganajagoron Mancha called solidarity rally in the capital’s Shahbagh area today (Thursday).Rahmat Ullah, Additional Deputy Commissioner (media) of Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP) said that law enforcers were in alert position in the area and no untoward incident was reported during the hartal.Meanwhile, a nightlong raid was conducted in the city but no arrests were made, he said. “We have learnt that four masked assailants were involved in the killing. Police are trying to nab them,” he said.