PEN American Center is appalled by the murder of blogger Ananta Bijoy Das on the morning of May 12, 2015—the third in a disturbing string of fatal attacks targeting secular writers and activists in Bangladesh this year—and calls for a full investigation into the murder so that those responsible are brought to justice.

Das, 32, was a contributor to Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), a website moderated by Bangladeshi-born U.S. writer Avijit Roy, who was himself hacked to death in February in an attack that also wounded his wife. Das was also the editor of a local science magazine, Jukti (Reason), and the author of several books. He was killed near his home in the northeastern city of Sylhet as he was leaving for work. Four men in masks attacked him with machetes before fleeing the scene of the crime. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack; however, he had reportedly received recent death threats from extremist Islamist groups because of his critical views towards religion, and had been living in hiding away from his home at the time of the attack. Police have launched an investigation and recovered the weapons used in the attack, but no arrests have been made.

PEN is deeply alarmed at the escalating pattern of violence against writers and journalists in Bangladesh, who appear to be targeted with impunity solely for the peaceful expression of their views,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression programs at PEN American Center. “We call on the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to provide adequate protection for those facing serious threats as a result of their writings.”

Das is the fourth blogger to have been brutally murdered in Bangladesh in the past two years, and the third in less than three months. On March 29, blogger Washiqur Rahman Babu was similarly hacked to death by sharp weapons—a pattern that suggests the murders were organized by the same group. Hard-line Islamist groups have demanded the public execution of atheist bloggers, compiled “assassination lists” on which Das’s name was included, and sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam.

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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 literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. www.pen.org
 
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression Programs: kdkarlekar@pen.org,  +1 646-779-4822
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646-779-4830