Bangladesh’s spate of blog­ger killings is a cause for con­cern

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

In 2013, “Is­lamist” groups in Bangladesh cir­cu­lated the names of 84 “athe­ist” blog­gers in that coun­try who they wanted to be tried for blas­phemy.

Ni­ladri Chat­topad­hyay Niloy, who was bru­tally killed at his home in Dhaka on Fri­day, was the fourth blog­ger on that list to suf­fer this fate.

All four killings have taken place this year and the mas­ter­minds re­main uniden­ti­fied.

Un­less some­thing dras­tic is done to check the trend, a large num­ber of peo­ple in Bangladesh re­main ex­posed to what has the look of a well­co­or­di­nated ef­fort to si­lence those who have been deemed guilty of cross­ing the line while ex­press­ing their opin­ion.

Many at home and away ac­cuse the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment of not re­al­iz­ing just how se­ri­ous the sit­u­a­tion is.

Niloy had com­plained to the po­lice that he had re­ceived threats but media re­ports say he had got no pro­tec­tion.

Ap­par­ently his killers didn’t have to spend too much time plan­ning their act, ei­ther.

They ap­proached his house pos­ing as po­ten­tial ten­ants, took him to a room, com­pleted the hideous job, and dis­ap­peared.

Viewed against the back­ground of the global protest the ear­lier in­ci­dents in which blog­gers had been killed had caused, and given the prom­ises made by Dhaka to stand by its avowed sec­u­lar ideals, this was far too easy an ex­e­cu­tion of a de­sire to ex­ter­mi­nate the un­wanted.

There would be some cau­tious voices coun­sel­ing re­straint on the part of the blog­gers but these must be over­whelmed by the ul­ti­mate ar­gu­ment: ev­ery­thing that is said can be coun­tered by words wher­ever nec­es­sary. Vi­o­lence is less equipped to con­trol thoughts and opin­ion to­day than it ever was. There are so many con­ve­nient tools of ex­pres­sion avail­able in the era of tech­nol­ogy.

Blog-spots are one op­tion that a grow­ing num­ber em­ploy as a very per­sonal means to in­form and com­ment.

They are too nu­mer­ous and too firmly rooted in mod­ern so­ci­ety. De­bate might de­feat them. Vi­o­lence can­not at­tempt to si­lence them. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by Dawn on Aug. 10.

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