The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
Harry S. Truman Building
2201C. Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
We are deeply troubled by the brutal public murder of American writer Dr. Avijit Roy in
Dhaka, Bangladesh, on February 26, 2015.
Dr. Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna were pulled from a bicycle rickshaw and assaulted with machetes while they were leaving a book fair near Dhaka University. Dr. Roy died in transport to the hospital; Ms. Bonna is in critical condition.
Dr. Roy was a prominent Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger. He championed free speech, and advocated for liberal secular discourse in Bangladesh, through his books and Mukto-Mona blog platform. Dr. Roy had reportedly been receiving death threats from Islamist fundamentalists in Bangladesh, and it is presumed that this was a religiously motivated attack.
The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris last month, the synagogue shootings in Denmark two weeks ago, and Dr. Roy’s murder in Bangladesh are representative of the disturbing, and growing, number of attacks around the world by religious fanatics against freedom of speech
Advocates. The United States cannot allow extremists to operate with impunity. We must stand strong for freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
The U.S. Embassy and Department of State must remain engaged, and work with Bangladesh’s government, to insist that Dr. Roy’s killers are brought to justice, and to ensure that threats to other secularists, and writers in Bangladesh are taken seriously.
Thank you for your leadership, and for protecting American lives and promoting our ideals around the world.