For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
March 10, 2015
Rafida Bonya Ahmed was viciously attacked in Dhaka, Bangladesh by Islamic extremists wielding machetes as she and her husband, renowned freethought writer Avijit Roy, were leaving a book fair at Dhaka University. Dr. Roy did not survive the attack, but thankfully Ms. Ahmed is now recovering.
Ms. Ahmed’s family has asked the Center for Inquiry to share her statement:
My husband, Avijit Roy, wrote about science and rationalism and critiqued religious fundamentalism. Because of this, he was murdered. On February 26, 2015, he and I were attacked in a crowded area on the Dhaka University campus. Avijit was hacked to death by a machete; I survived.
As his wife, fellow writer, and a freethinker, I strongly condemn this gruesome act of terror.
The Dhaka University campus has historically been a space for progressive movements. It is also where Avijit grew up. Despite the death threat, we could not fathom that such a heinous crime could take place in such an area—a crime not only against a person, but against freedom of speech and humanity. While Avijit and I were being ruthlessly attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act. Now, we demand that the Bangladeshi government do everything in its power to bring the murderers to justice.
I do not believe that simply catching the killers will be enough. I urge the government to address terrorism and stop a legal culture of impunity, where writers can be killed without the killers being brought to trial. I urge the world to recognize what has happened and join us in this demand for justice.
- Rafida Bonya Ahmed
“We are deeply grateful that Bonya is recovering from her ordeal, and we’re honored to help her share her story and her call for action,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s representative to the United Nations and a friend of Dr. Roy’s. “We are still reeling from the loss of our friend Avijit, a fellow human rights advocate. But it is clear from the tributes being paid to him around the world that the ideals he stood for — reason, compassion, and freedom of expression for all — will continue to inspire for generations to come.”
Dr. Avijit Roy was the founder of the website Mukto-mona, an online network of freethinkers of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent, as well as the author of several books, and a contributor to CFI’s magazine Free Inquiry and its Free Thinking blog. When seven Bangladeshi atheist bloggers were arrested for blasphemy in 2013, Dr. Roy worked closely with CFI to focus the international community’s attention on the injustice, and help organize and promote protests around the world.
Michael De Dora is currently in Geneva for the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. CFI’s original statement on Dr. Roy’s murder can be found here: http://bit.ly/CFI_AvijitRoy
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.