Statement on the Murder of Dr. Avijit Roy

945695_563211230401818_254148288_nI am deeply saddened by and strongly condemn the heinous and cowardly murder of Dr. Avijit Roy. Avijit was a prolific author, a loyal supporter of Bangladesh’s LGBT rights movement, a fearless defender of free speech, and the founder of Mukto-Mona, a secular online platform dedicated to freethinking, humanism and rationalism. In the few interactions I had with him as a contributor to Mukto-Mona, he was always very kind and encouraging.

If, as is reasonably presumed, Avijit was targeted because of the content of his writings, then his murder was an attack on the freedom of expression, which is enshrined in Bangladesh’s constitution and a fundamental value of any democratic society. The Government of Bangladesh, which has failed to provide Avijit with adequate protection even after he had received multiple death threats, must now move expeditiously to deploy the necessary resources not only to bring the perpetrators to justice, but also to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that similar crimes are unlikely to ever occur again and people in Bangladesh feel safe to express their opinions.

My thoughts are with his family and friends. To them, I extend my heart-felt condolences. I wish his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonna, who was also injured in the attack, a speedy and full recovery.

Bangladesh has lost a great son.