Over 150 writers and journalists from India, Britain and elsewhere have signed an open letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed condemning the recent murders of three bloggers in the country, and seeking justice for them.
Signatories include Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Neel Mukherjee as well as Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, who condemned the murders of the three bloggers, Ananta Bijoy Das, Washiqur Rahman Babu and Avijit Roy this year.
The letter, coordinated by English PEN, which campaigns “to defend writers and readers in the UK and around the world whose human right to freedom of expression is at risk”, says: “We call on the Bangladeshi authorities to swiftly and impartially investigate Ananta Bijoy Das’s death as well as the murders of Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman Babu, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards”.
“We also demand that the authorities do all in their power to provide protection and support to bloggers and other writers at risk in Bangladesh, in accordance with Bangladesh’s obligations under national and international law”.
Martel told The Guardian that he added his name to the letter because of “the egregious nature of the offence … something must be done urgently”.
He added, “The government of Bangladesh might be more subject to influence because of this letter than a government in the west, where letters and petitions and appeals and the like are always flying about, and politicians grown inured to them. My hope is that the government of Sheikh Hasina might actually be mortified by this letter.”
Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said, “These shocking events have united writers throughout the world in an important show of solidarity.”