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Bangladesh: UN and EU officials condemn the murder of the blogger Nizamuddin Samad / Fellow Students protest after killing

7 April 2016

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Prothom Alo

UN, EU condemn Nizam murder
Online Desk | Update: 17:11, Apr 07, 2016

EU ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon and UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Robert D Watkins on Wednesday condemned the killing of Nizam Uddin Samad, a student of Jagannath University.

Samad, a master’s degree student of Jagannath University who had expressed secular views online, was killed in the capital on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old was reported to have been an organiser of the Ganajagran Manch, a secular campaigning group, reports UNB.

Stating that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, ambassador Mayaudon emphasised the need for tolerance and respect for differing views.

According to a press statement issued on Thursday, he supports all efforts to ensure that citizens of Bangladesh may express their views freely and without fear.

Ambassador Mayaudon conveyed his condolences to the family of Nizamuddin Samad as well.

He also expressed hopes that thorough investigation will bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.

The murder of Nizam Uddin Samad, also a blogger, was widely covered in the international media.

The United Nations has also renewed its call for the security authorities in Bangladesh to ‘adequately protect’ online activists who might be at risk.

In a statement on Thursday, UN resident coordinator Watkins said the UN in Bangladesh is appalled by the killing of Nizam Uddin Samad and condemned the brutal crime.

The UN also urged the security authorities to bring about a speedy closure to this most recent atrocity as well as to the other investigations underway.

Watkins laid emphasis on protecting the online activists adequately to ensure continued freedom of expression and opinion in the country as they are the foundations of a democratic society.

The UN has been raising its concerns about these incidents since the first killing three years ago and continues to call for thorough investigations to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, Watkins said.

“In spite of the recent pause in the assassination of online activists, this attack demonstrates that this new killing is clearly part of a growing trend which undermines the freedom of expression and opinion in Bangladesh,” he said.

The UN, Watkins said, recognises that the Courts have delivered a verdict in the Rajib Haider murder case in January this year, two years after the killing.

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BBC News - 7 April 2016

Bangladesh students protest after blogger hacked to death

Students in Bangladesh have held protests over alleged government inaction after another secular blogger was killed by suspected Islamists.

Nazimuddin Samad was hacked with machetes on Wednesday in the capital Dhaka and then shot, police said.
Students from the Jagannath University, where Mr Samad studied, blocked roads in and around the university.
They told reporters that police inaction over previous killings had contributed to the death of Mr Samad.

"Talented youths are killed one after another, but there are no visible measures against these heinous acts," Kabir Chowdhury Tanmoy, president of the Online Activist Forum, which advocates secularism, told Reuters news agency.

Image copyright EPA

Mr Samad, 28, was reported to have been an organiser of the Ganajagran Manch, a secular campaigning group.
A string of prominent secular bloggers have been attacked or killed by religious extremists in Bangladesh in the last year.
Bangladesh is officially secular but critics say the government has failed to properly address the attacks.

Image copyright EPA

Who is behind the Bangladesh killings?

Attacks send shockwaves through Bangladesh

The threat of small-scale terror attacks
Police said three assailants on a motorcycle attacked Mr Samad and then shot him, The Dhaka Tribune reported. Police have not named any suspects in the case nor confirmed a religious motive.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The student was killed at this site on a traffic intersection in Dhaka

Mr Samad, a student of Jagannath University, regularly wrote against religious extremism on his Facebook page. He had written "I have no religion" on his profile under religious views.

There have been several deadly attacks in Bangladesh in recent months, although it is not clear who is behind them.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were killed with machetes, one inside his own home. They all appeared on a list of 84 "atheist bloggers" drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

Image copyright Nazimuddin Samad
Image caption Nazimuddin Samad was a student at Jagannath University

There have also been attacks on members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, and Hindus.

Two foreigners, an Italian aid worker and a Japanese man, were also shot dead late last year, in seemingly random attacks.
The so-called Islamic State group has said it carried out many of the attacks - but this has not been independently verified.
Members of another militant Islamist group, the Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were arrested over an assault on an Italian Catholic priest late last year.

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The Guardian

Secular activist who criticised Islamism killed in Dhaka

Nazimuddin Samad, whose family live in London, was hacked to death by at least four assailants after posting on Facebook

[by] Saad Hammadi in Dhaka, Aisha Gani in London and agencies

Thursday 7 April 2016 16.56 BST

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of Dhaka to demand the capture and punishment of those responsible for the murder of a law student who criticised Islamism on his Facebook page.

About 350 activists from the secular campaigning network Ganajagaran Mancha took part in the demonstration on Thursday after the killing of Nazimuddin Samad in the Bangladeshi capital on Wednesday night.

Samad, 28, had been on a hit list of 84 atheist bloggers that a group of radical Islamists drew up and sent to the Bangladesh interior ministry. His murder was the latest in a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.

Syed Nurul Islam, the deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan police, told Agence France-Presse: “At least four assailants hacked Nazimuddin Samad’s head with a machete on Wednesday night. As he fell, one of them shot him with a pistol from close range. He died on the spot.

“It is a case of targeted killing. But no group has claimed responsibility.” He said police were looking into whether Samad was murdered for his writing.

The Dhaka Tribune said the assailants shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) as they attacked Samad on a busy road near Jagannath University, where he was a law student.

On Thursday, the protesters urged the Bangladeshi authorities to take the killing seriously, accusing them of having fostered a culture of impunity in the past.

Last year, suspected militants hacked to death at least four atheist bloggers and a secular publisher in one of a series of targeted killings in the Muslim-majority country.

Police arrested members of a banned group called Ansarullah Bangla Team over those murders, but none has yet been prosecuted.

Samad was attacked on a busy road near Jagannath University, where he studied law. Police said he had spent two months in Dhaka. Photograph: Facebook

Maruf Rosul, one of the Ganajagaran Mancha activists, told the Guardian: “The government is creating impunity to all the offences by not bringing the perpetrators to book.

“Instead of pointing blame at different outfits, the government should identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”

Samad was known to have been critical of state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution. In the first two lines detailing his religious views on Facebook, he said: “Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion and race are [an] invention of the savage and uncivil people.”

Wafi Chowdhury, a schoolfriend of Samad, said: “Nazim had lived in hostels since grade six and later moved to a shared room after he joined university.”

Samad had deactivated his Facebook account about a month ago at the request of his family, but Chowdhury added: “I remember him telling me he would come back on Facebook soon with a grin.”

Shamir Chandra Sutradhar, an investigations officer at Sutrapur police in Dhaka, told the Guardian: “His stay in Dhaka has been only two months. He lived in Sylhet and most of his family members are in London.”

Tapan Chandra Saha, a police officer in charge of the Sutrapur area, said: “We have not been able to identify any suspect. Nazim was both hacked and shot. We have recovered bullet shells from the spot. He has been hacked on the right side of his head.”

Samad was described by friends as ‘a loud voice against any social injustice’. Photograph: Facebook

Imran Sarker, who leads Bangladesh’s largest online secular activist group and is the head of the Bangladeshi bloggers association, said Samad had joined nationwide protests in 2013 against top Islamist leaders accused of committing war crimes during the country’s war of independence.

“He was a secular online activist and a loud voice against any social injustice. He was against Islamic fundamentalism,” Sarker said.

Amnesty International said the killing was a reminder that authorities in Bangladesh are failing to protect people exercising their right to freedom of expression.

“There can be no justification for the brutal killing of Nazimuddin Samad, who has apparently paid with his life for nothing but being brave enough to speak his mind,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty’s South Asia director. “This is not just a senseless murder, it is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression. The Bangladeshi authorities must categorically condemn these killings and take serious steps to end this horrific cycle of violence. Those responsible for the killings of secular activists must be held to account.”

Mustakur Rahman, 26, became friends with Samad after meeting him at college in Sylhet in 2007. Speaking on the phone from Birmingham, where he now lives, Rahman described his shock and disbelief at Samad’s death. “Everybody was very close [at college]. Suddenly we have lost a very close classmate and it is shocking. I can’t believe it just happened. It’s a loss for us. We lost our friend. His mum lost her child,” he said.

Bloodstained glass is visible near the spot where Samad was hacked to death. Photograph: AP

“I will remember him forever. He was my friend. I grew up with him. I had so many memories with him. He used to laugh very nicely. He was a very smiley guy. I’ve been remembering his smile.”

Rahman spoke of how Samad inspired him and his classmates to join the Bangladesh National Cadet Corps. Samad had been an active member, rising to the position of lance corporal.

Rahman said he had warned Samad about his social media posts, which were critical of Islamism and religion. “Whatever he posted, I would see as fun. But people are taking it seriously and taking revenge,” he said. “As a friend, I warned him about the posts, I don’t want anyone to die early. But he said he can’t change his opinion against any religion.

“He didn’t kill anyone. To me, he’s a good person. He didn’t do anything wrong. He wrote something about a particular religion. I’m a believer, but he wasn’t a believer and maybe he was trying to express what he thinks about religion. It is a free world, why should he be killed?

“So I’m very, very shocked. But in Bangladesh it is a common issue nowadays. So many atheists are being killed … For every single occasion, there is protest. But after there is nothing. There will be protest, we protest, we write on Facebook. But that’s it. No justice is coming out.”

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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