PEN America joins PEN Bangladesh in calling on the Bangladeshi government to investigate the April 23 killing of Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique and to bring his killers to trial. Professor Karim’s murder follows a string of brutal killings of secular bloggers and writers by Islamic extremists in the country. In December 2015, PEN America, along with other leading human rights organizations, urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to grant humanitarian parole to those individuals at grave risk of death at the hands of Islamic extremists in Bangladesh. Below is the statement put out by PEN Bangladesh following the murder.

PEN Bangladesh is terribly shocked by the brutal killing of Rezaul Karim Siddique, a distinguished English professor at Rajshahi University, a leading public university in Bangladesh. Police indicated that Islamic militants may have been behind the attack because the killing style was consistent with the other murders of intellectuals and bloggers by Islamic extremists in the country. Professor Karim’s colleagues and relatives told PEN Bangladesh that the victim was a well-behaved man who was not critical of religion in a way that might have angered Islamic militants. Professor Karim’s wife Hone Ara says, “I never had any assumption that my husband had any enemies.”

However, PEN Bangladesh thinks that there may have a link between this killing and the recent spate of blogger killings in the country. Professor Karim was fond of music, art, and culture, which are all topics that the militants detest. He established a music school where he lived in Rajshahi’s Bagmara thana area. Bagmara thana is also a well-known area because of its ties to Bangladeshi terrorist Bangla Bhai and other militants belonging to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

PEN Bangladesh is deeply concerned by and strongly condemns this killing of a noted Bangladeshi academic and intellectual. PEN Bangladesh urges the Bangladeshi government to bring the murderers to trial without delay. 

Dr. Syeda Aireen Jaman
Secretary General 
PEN Bangladesh Center