Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday urged the Bangladesh government to declare its unequivocal commitment to free speech instead of proposing self-censorship.

In a statement, the New York-based global rights watchdog said the killing of secular blogger Niladri Chattopadhyay was a harrowing reminder of the need for the Bangladesh government to take immediate steps to protect the security of all and end attempts at muzzling independent voices.

Niladri, who used the pen name Niloy Neel, is the fourth blogger to be murdered in Bangladesh this year for advocating secularism.

Instead of addressing police failure to respond to threats against Niladri or to arrest those responsible for the earlier murders, Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque warned that “hurting religious sentiments is a crime according to our law.”

Shahidul recommended: “Those who are free thinkers and writers, I will request them, please make sure that we don’t cross the line. Anything that may hurt anyone’s religious sentiments or beliefs should not be written.”

“It’s shocking that Bangladesh authorities not only failed to protect the bloggers despite complaints to the police about threats against them, but instead are proposing self-censorship,” the statement quoted Brad Adams, Asia Director at the HRW, as saying.

“The government should recall that its duty is to uphold the constitution and protect people’s lives, as well as their religious freedom,” he said.

Adams said, “The government can’t afford to send mixed messages about these attacks on bloggers just for expressing their opinions about religion.”

http://www.thedailystar.net Updated On: August 13, 2015