NEW YORK—The murder today of Bangladeshi blogger Niloy Chakrabarti—the fourth killing of a secular writer in Bangladesh this year—reveals a government unable or unwilling to curb religious extremist violence, PEN American Center said in a statement today.

Chakrabati was hacked to death on Friday in his Dhaka apartment by six unknown assailants while his wife and a friend were pushed helplessly aside. A critic of religion, advocate of women’s and minority rights, and organizer of the 2013 Shahbagh Square protests, Chakrabati had recently reported to police that he was being threatened and requested official protection—a request that by all accounts was ignored.

“Niloy’s murder today indicates two equally terrifying trends: the rise of extremist attacks against writers in Bangladesh and the government’s inability or unwillingness to stop it,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression Programs at PEN American Center. “The authorities in Bangladesh have a duty not only to investigate these vicious murders and bring perpetrators to justice, but to put a stop to this sickening string of violence and provide protection for secular bloggers and all writers at risk before they are attacked.”

Under the pen name Niloy Neel, Chakrabati was a contributor to Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), a liberal blog founded by Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy who was similarly hacked to death outside a book fair in February. The murder of two other bloggers—Ananta Bijoy Das and Washiqur Rahman Babu—quickly followed. In November 2014, Reporters Without Borders reported that a religious extremist group calling itself Defenders of Islam had posted a “hit list” of bloggers, journalists, and scholars critical of Islam; according to a fellow blogger, Chakrabati was a listed target.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 4,000 U.S. writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide.  Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in human rights and literatureof such past members as James Baldwin, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and Toni Morrison.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: 646-779-4822, [email protected]
Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: 646-779-4830, [email protected]