Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh

An international coalition of atheist and humanist organizations, led by the Center for Inquiry and our partners the International Humanist and Ethical Union and CFI-Canada will protest the arrest and persecution of atheist bloggers and other dissenters in Bangladesh with demonstrations in Washington, D.C., London, Ottawa, Dhaka, and other cities around the world on Thursday, May 2.

Bangladesh has recently been at the center of a human rights crisis as authorities have detained several prominent atheist bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” followed by the arrest of a newspaper editor who printed quotations from the targeted bloggers, and two more young people for making “derogatory remarks” about Islam on Facebook. Tens of thousands of people have rallied in the country’s capital to demand more arrests, tougher blasphemy laws, and have threatened violence if their demands are not met soon.

With these unprecedented demonstrations, secularists around the world will express their solidarity with those jailed for speaking their minds about religion. Protesters will draw global attention to the plight of those persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of belief and expression, and attempt to spur the international community to take action and compel the government of Bangladesh to change course.

“The events in Bangladesh are only the latest instance of a fierce global crackdown on ‘blasphemy,’ with the criminalization of atheism and religious dissent,” said protest coordinator Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “To all those who believe that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, we call upon you to join us, religious believer and atheist alike. We can show those whose lives and freedoms are threatened that they are not forgotten, and send a message to these oppressive regimes that their abuses will not be ignored.”

May 2 Protests so far confirmed:

USA

  • Washington, DC: Embassy of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. 4:30 pm ET. Details here.

CANADA

  • Ottawa: High Commission for Bangladesh, Constitution Square Centre, 340 Albert St, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7Y6. 4:30 pm ET. Details here.
  • Calgary: Consulate of Bangladesh, 633 6th Avenue South West, T2P 2Y6. 4:30 pm MT. Details here.
  • Toronto: Eaton Centre, 214-2 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5G 1K3. 12 pm ET. Details here.

UK

London: The British Humanist Association is holding a leafleting protest from 10-4 p.m. outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London. Volunteers are asked to email pavan@humanism.org.uk.
28 Queen's Gate London SW7 5JA

BANGLADESH

  • Dhaka: Press Club, 4:30pm in UTC+07. (Independently organized)

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More cities and events to be announced soon. Keep checking back here for new information. To coordinate an event in your area, please contact cfe@centerforinquiry.net.

Twitter hashtag: #DefendDissent

Facebook event: here

Learn more about those persecuted for blasphemy and dissent at the Campaign for Free Expression, www.centerforinquiry.net/cfe.

CFI is a signatory to the Day of Action declaration in support of the persecuted bloggers begun by activist Maryam Namazie.

Special thanks to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science for their promotional help.

Note: Due to the National Day of Mourning in Bangladesh on April 25, protests by the Center for Inquiry, CFI-Canada, and the British Humanist Association were postponed to May 2. Other groups, including the American Atheists and Secular Coalition for America, protested April 25.