Blogger Killings Land Bangladesh on Global Impunity Index

BenarNews Staff

2015-10-09
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151009-BD-blogger-wife-1000 Asha Moni (right), wife of murdered Bangladeshi blogger Niladri Chottopaddhya, weeps outside her Dhaka area home, Aug. 8, 2015.
AFP

This year’s killings of four secular bloggers in separate machete-attacks by suspected Islamists have earned Bangladesh a spot on the 2015 Global Impunity Index, published annually by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a worldwide press freedom advocacy group.

The index casts a spotlight on nations where the killings of reporters go unpunished. The CPJ ranked Bangladesh No. 12 out of 14 nations.

In a span of less than six months, four Bangladeshi bloggers – Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das and Niladri Chottopaddhya – were hacked to death by their assailants. A fifth blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was killed in a similar manner in February 2013.

“A wave of violence against bloggers has landed Bangladesh back onto the index for the first time since 2011,” the New York-based CPJ said Thursday in naming the 14 countries on this year’s impunity index.

“At least four Bangladeshi bloggers have been hacked to death by apparent Islamic extremists this year alone, and a total of five of Bangladesh's seven victims of unsolved murders over the last decade are bloggers who criticized religious extremism,” the CPJ added.

Rounding out the top five countries with the worst records for impunity in the killings of journalists, are Somalia (1), Iraq (2), Syria (3), the Philippines (4) and South Sudan (5), according to CPJ.

Bangladesh’s neighbor, India, earned the twelfth spot on the index and was ranked for the eighth year in a row, because of work-related murders of 11 journalists dating back a decade.

“All have been carried out with complete impunity,” the committee said.

The name of another Indian journalist may soon be added to the CPJ’s list as a confirmed work-related killing. On Saturday, television journalist Hemant Yadav was shot dead in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, according to news reports, but it was unclear whether he was killed while on the job.

On Thursday, the committee called on Indian authorities to investigate his murder thoroughly.

Deteriorating law and order

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, the index’s release comes amid assurances to foreign embassies from government officials that they are boosting measures to safeguard Westerners in the wake of the recent in-country murders of an Italian aid worker and a Japanese agricultural expert. Both murders were claimed by the Islamic State (IS), but Bangladeshi officials have rejected the theory that the Mid-East based extremist group was responsible.

At the same time, Bangladesh’s government has been cracking down against home-grown Islamist groups. Bangladeshi police suspect that the militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) – which is known by various names – was the one that carried out the murders of the bloggers.

Since Chottopaddhya’s slaying on Aug. 7 at his apartment home in the Dhaka area, police have arrested seven suspected ABT members: Six of them are suspected of being involved in the killings of Roy, a Bangladeshi-American, and Das, and two are suspected in the murder of Chottopaddhya. Seven suspected ABT operatives also were arrested in connection with the murder of the first blogger, Haider, in 2013.

However, none of the suspects in any of the five homicides have been tried or convicted.

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