Xulhaz Mannan, the man who founded Bangladesh’s only LGBT publication, has been hacked to death by suspected Islamic extremists.
According to reports, Mannan, 35, was ambushed in his apartment in Dhaka on Monday afternoon by a group of men posing as couriers. Mannan’s friend Tanay Majumde was also murdered in the shocking attack. It’s believed that they were hacked to death with machetes.
Mannan’s mother was in the apartment at the time of the murder. A security guard who tried to intervene was injured.
In addition to editing the magazine Roopban, described as “a platform and publication promoting human right and freedom to love in Bangladesh,” Mannan also worked at the US Embassy for USAID.
The US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, said she was “devastated” by the “senseless act of violence”.
“Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the US Embassy. He was a dear friend.”
She called on the government of Bangladesh “in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders”.
The killing comes amidst rising religious extremism in Bangladesh and a spate of killings of activists; including four murders this month alone. On April 23, Rezaul Karim Siddique, a much-admired university professor was attacked by machete-wielding Islamic State jihadists as he walked to a bus station in the city of Rajshahi.
In 2015, five secular Bangladeshi bloggers were hacked to death using machetes. Not a single person has been held to account.
“The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI publication and his friend, days after a university professor was hacked to death, underscores the appalling lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country,” commented Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
“While the Bangladeshi authorities have failed to bring these violent groups to justice, the attackers have expanded their range of targets to now include a university professor and LGBTI activists,” said Patel.
“The Bangladeshi police needs to guarantee the protection of the country’s LGBTI community, not harass them or threaten them with arrest, as they have been doing,” he added.
Homosexual relations are criminalised in Bangladesh and are punishable with fines and up to life imprisonment. According to Amnesty International, instead of protecting LGBT people, the Bangladeshi authorities have urged them to be “less provocative”.