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Bangladeshi freedom of speech in exile

When the Bangladeshi blogger and publisher Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury was attacked by Islamists in his office in October 2015, he had been continuing to exercise free speech while knowingly living under threat. At the time several other bloggers who worked with Chowdhury had already been hacked to death for secular and critical writing, including the blogger Avijit Roy earlier in 2015. Barely escaping with his life, Chowdhury decided to leave Bangladesh and currently has asylum in Norway, from where he continues to write about his home country.

Speaking in a panel at the Global Media Forum, Chowdhury acknowledged that he has difficulty talking after the machete attack, as he explained that he would continue to write for those in Bangladesh who are “uneducated and need to know”.

He is one of many Bangladeshi thinkers, writers and bloggers who have been forced to flee their country to Europe, caught somewhere between brutality and isolation just for telling the truth. Also at the panel were Anaya Azad and Shammi Haque who are two young bloggers from Bangladesh who have been forced to leave their friends and families and were given asylum in Germany. They continue to work for people in Bangladesh, while looking forward to the day when they may return home.

The exiled bloggers said that the unifying factor in the deadly climate in Bangladesh was Islamic-based religious extremism that vehemently disallows any criticism or thought that goes against its precepts. This is combined with the unwillingness of government and police to combat extremism. Bloggers make easy targets where the killers are unknown and the government and police take no action. According to one of the panelists, nine bloggers in Bangladesh were killed last year.

DW is actively supporting these brave voices and making sure their stories are heard around the world. The panel was part of a larger campaign, Bloggers at Risk, which focuses on free speech, human rights and freedom for incarcerated bloggers around the world.


2016-07-01 | 7:29



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