BRUTAL MURDER OF AVIJIT DEFEND RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH

The murder of Avijit and the attack on his wife on Thursday evening (26 February 20185) was horrific, shocking and tragic. It was particularly shocking as this attack took place literally in front of police officers and large crowds of people enjoying the buzz of the Ekushey Boimela. I was at the Mela on Tuesday evening, two nights before Avijik’s murder, and left the place around the same time as Avijit, approximately 8.30pm. I also visited the Mela on Wednesday afternoon to buy a number of books. During these two visits I observed high levels of security, in terms of police presence within the spaces allocated for the Boimela, police barricades, RAB forces nearby and also no doubt the presence of many plain clothes security personnel mingling with the crowd.

As far as the latest reports of the police investigation no one has been identified or detained as yet for this horrific crime. There are speculations and many believe that the murder was undertaken by Islamic extremists linked to Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh. It was also reported by the media that an Islamic extremist group through twitter took responsibility for this tragic murder. Regardless of who carried out the brutal murder the motive behind the attack was said to be due to Avijit’s free thinking, atheism and anti-religious writings.

In the absence of the perpetrators being identified, apprehended and questioned speculations are not helpful as it may in reality be something very different from all the speculations about the motives and people behind the tragic murder. Speculations and jumping to conclusions without concrete proof will only add to the increasing dangerous climate the country is experiencing currently. I suggest we encourage and put more pressure on the government of Bangladesh and the security forces of the country to make extra efforts to find the killers to get to the bottom of who undertook the brutal murder and why.

In terms of principles no human should be silenced for their thoughts and every human being has the same rights to influence others through arguments, evidence, creativity or any other peaceful means to change their thinking or ways of life. I often express very strong opinions on a number of subject matters regarding Bangladesh politics and I feel that I have the right to communicate the contents of my thoughts and persuade others to change their ways without experiencing fear of possible persecution or even physical harm as a result of what I say. Even if my thoughts are considered useless or thought could not make any positive contributions to society, or even perceived as dangerous by some people I still have the right to hold them and communicate them to other people. Others have exactly the same rights as me, and no human being has more rights in this regard than anyone else. Being born as human beings we all have the same rights in equal measure.

If Avijit was killed as a result of his atheism, free thinking and anti-religious writings then this should be condemned in the strongest of manners. No one should be killed for his or her thoughts, whether independently arrived at through one’s own mind’s processes or adopted and internalised from someone else’s thoughts. Until we know who killed Avijit and why speculations are not only not helpful but can in fact make the situation become more toxic by fuelling tension and hatred within society.

I hope and pray that the killers of Avijit are caught very soon so that the judiciary can determine why the killers struck on the night of 26 February 2015 to take an innocent individual’s life, injure his wife and leave parents and a daughter in mourning. However, I fear that the security forces and the Bangladesh state will engage in a cover up or undertake an incompetent investigation and as a result we will never know who the perpetrators were and why they carried out such a brutal murder in front of large buzzing crowds of people enjoying the highly popular annual event.

Source: M Ahmedullah