The United States condemns in the strongest terms possible the brutal murder in Bangladesh of human rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend Tonnoi Mahbub. The men were hacked to death by machete wielding assailants who broke into Mr. Mannan’s home.
An employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Mr. Mannan served the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka with distinction, and he worked on behalf of his fellow Bangladeshis as a voice for justice, equality, and human rights for all. Mr. Mannan set an example of dignity, courage, and selflessness, and his legacy will live on in the causes he championed.
Attacks targeting intellectuals, secular writers, members of religious minority groups and activists who have criticized Islam have escalated in Bangladesh over the last several years. Indeed, only days before the murder of Mr. Mannan, attackers hacked to death and nearly beheaded university professor Rezaul Karim Siddique. His murder was later claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The murderers accused Professor Siddique of calling for atheism, although by all accounts Professor Siddique was a pious and privately religious man. Extremists also murdered a student activist Nazimuddin Samad in Dhaka on April 6. According to Amnesty International, there have been four killings by extremists in the month of April alone.
Last year, unidentified men used machetes to attack four activists who published views critical of Islam and two publishers who had printed their works. These murderous attacks have been broad, including Shiite Muslims, Hindu priests and Christian priests.
“Bangladesh,” said State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, “is justifiably proud of its history as a moderate, tolerant, inclusive society that values the diversity of its people, culture, and religions, and this attack fundamentally seeks to undermine all that Bangladesh stands for and all that the Bangladeshi people have strived to bring about in recent years.”
The United States remains committed to the principles that were so important to Mr. Mannan, and will support all those who work on behalf of tolerance and human rights in Bangladesh and around the world.