NEW YORK—The disappearance of Dr. Mubashar Hasan, a Bangladeshi professor and policy analyst known internationally for his work on Islamic extremism, is yet another egregious example of Bangladesh’s failure to protect independent voices within Bangladesh’s intellectual sphere, PEN America said in a statement today.

Dr. Hasan vanished at approximately 7pm on November 7, 2017 while en route from North South University in Dhaka, where he teaches, to a meeting at the UN Country office. He was last contacted by his father at approximately 6:30pm, but his phone was switched off soon after. His family reported him missing at around 1am the following morning. Hasan is a well-known scholar of religion and politics, with particular emphasis on the rise of Islamic extremism. He is also the founder of the secular website, which strives to promote democracy and pluralism within Bangladesh.

“The disappearance of Dr. Mubashar Hasan is another in a long line of grave threats to scholars and independent thinkers in Bangladesh,” said Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America. “The authorities must step up efforts to find and free Dr. Hasan from whatever forces are responsible for his disappearance as soon as possible.”

Hasan’s disappearance is part of larger pattern of free speech violations in Bangladesh by both state and non-state actors. According to local and international groups, extrajudicial executions of political opponents and other critical voices by security forces, particularly the Rapid Action battalion, remain a serious concern, with dozens of cases reported each year. In addition, the Bangladeshi government has a patchy record of investigating increasing threats to and murders of secular bloggers, gay rights activists, and religious minorities. PEN America has previously condemned the brutal killings of Bangladeshi writers, professors, and activists such as Xulhaz Mannan, Avijit Roy, and Rezaul Karim Siddique, among others.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.