Coalition Urges State Department to Help Threatened Publishers, Writers in Bangladesh
December 21, 2015
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has joined seven leading advocacy organizations in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that urges the State Department to provide humanitarian parole to threatened publishers and writers in Bangladesh.
Humanitarian parole is a U.S. program to bring individuals who are otherwise inadmissible into the country for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.
The letter states in part:
As human rights and free expression organizations, we have received numerous requests from Bangladeshi bloggers, who have written to us in the hope that we can help by providing them with avenues for relocation. The State Department is deeply committed to securing internet freedom, and a visible effort to protect these individuals—many of whom do their principal work online—would be a powerful gesture of support to a community that is paying the highest price for the exercise of their freedom online. As non-governmental organizations, we do not provide legal advice or representation, and cannot secure visas for these individuals. Due to these constraints, we are writing to you to highlight the extremely dangerous nature of their situation and to ask for humanitarian parole that will prevent their deaths. Parole determinations would be made on a case-by-case basis, following an individual assessment. Should parole be secured, we stand ready to mobilize our networks to assist these writers once they arrive in the United States.
You can read the full letter here.
Other organizations signing the letter include PEN American Center, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, City of Asylum Pittsburgh, and the Association of American Publishers.
Copies of the letter were also sent to Marcia Bernicat, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh; Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs; and
CFI previously wrote to the State Department regarding the human rights situation in Bangladesh in April 2013.
You can learn more about CFI’s work to defend freedom of expression here.