Secularist Bloggers Murdered for Expressing their Freedom of Speech
by TheMindUnleashed on November 20, 2015 - 7:54pm
Secularist Bloggers Murdered for Expressing their Freedom of Speech
For journalists around the world, May 3rd is an important day. Commonly known as World Press Freedom Day, it represents the defense of the freedom of speech of journalists, bloggers and writers from around the world and “pays tribute to [those] who have lost their lives in the line of duty” (“World Press Freedom Day”). Sadly, to this day, imprisoning or assaulting people who criticize their countries’ religion or worldview is still a recurrent practice in some countries. Notably, in the past few months in Bangladesh, there has been a total of four brutal machete murders of atheist bloggers. These assassinations have all gone under the countries’ justice system radar (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”). Niladri Chatterjee was one of the victims and his case was commented on by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).
Indeed, Andrew Copson, President of the IHEU, criticized the fact that the murderers of the atheist bloggers were exempt from punishment from the government (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”). He also argues that these violent actions show that “the culture of impunity […] has become firmly entrenched [in Bangladesh]” (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”). This is a troubling idea because if no charges or consequences are imposed onto the murderers of these atheist bloggers, then nothing really stops them from committing these crimes. In fact, the carelessness and the lack of seriousness of the justice system is questionable, as it does not pose any charges in order to restrain people from brutally assaulting citizens who post their different views on social media. On the contrary, by not doing anything against these tragic events, the government sends out the message that no justice shall be done for the deaths of these bloggers. As a consequence, it seems that the government passively supports these killings. Also, in regards of the freedom of speech, the impact of these killings is radical. In fact, these bloggers, who are courageous enough to write about their own ideas, are persecuted and killed by groups of people who share opposing views. This comes up to say that the human rights of the bloggers are not respected by the killers nor the Bangladesh government. To this, Copson demands the government to restore the freedom of speech that is due to all of its citizens (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”).
Also, in spite of the recent murders, many secularist activists are worried for their own security. To help these activists, Bob Churchill, the IHEU Director of Communications, “urges all international embassies in Bangladesh to treat requests for humanitarian support from all verified ‘atheist bloggers’ on Islamic hit lists” (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”). It is important, he says, that this is done “with the utmost urgency and seriousness” (“Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh”). In fact, it is the lack of seriousness from the government’s behalf that causes the bloggers to worry for their own security. However, if the justice system punished the killers in due respect of their actions, the situation would probably be different. Furthermore, the resulting consequence of the lack of action from the government’s side undermines the basic human right of speech and freedom of thought. Therefore, if bloggers cannot feel safe in their house or in their country due to the fact that they share their ideas publically, then the government is not doing its job of meeting the human rights standards for its entire population. So why do governments, who adopted the Declaration of Human Rights, neglect to meet its standards for every citizen?
Throughout “The Humanist Tradition” course, many influential men and women were presented by students. A very big proportion of the many presented activists or political leaders fought to express their ideas publically, even if these went against the norm. However, for most of the activists, their views were not expressed without any persecutions by other people holding opposing views or their own government. For example, in the 16th century, Giordano Bruno was burned at stake for sharing his ideas about astronomy, since they did not conform to the teachings of the church. Moreover, in the 18th century, Marquis de Condorcet was imprisoned for having views against the religion’s control over education. Again, because this view went against the ideologies of the time. Additionally, in the 20th century, Bertrand Russell was sent to prison for holding strong views against wars, which was the opposite of what was proclaimed by the government at the time. Finally, even as you read this, Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese activist, is currently in prison for presenting political views that opposed the Communist Chinese Government (Watts). As depicted by the many examples, history repeats itself, over and over. People speak out about their ideas that challenge the current worldview and then get silenced by an opposing group or even the government. In my opinion, these situations occur because the powers in place want to keep their control and authority over society, and so they will try to silence all the voices that raise doubt concerning their actions. In the same way, Edward Snowden was put on the U.S.A.’s enemy list because he spoke out about its massive surveillance program. So it is this hunger for control and power that makes the powers in place not respect the Declaration of Human Rights.
In conclusion, this subject is of great importance, since the freedom of speech, a basic human right, is still not respected by the governments and powers in place, even if they say they adopt the Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, people need to keep standing up and speaking out about what they think is right, because this gives courage for others to do the same. Throughout this on-going battle, we can only hope of a world where people can speak openly about their thoughts without being scared for their lives. After all, it’s all written in the Declaration of Human Rights. Governments just need to respect it.
"Niloy Neel – Fourth Atheist Activist Murdered in a Year in Bangladesh." IHEU. IHEU, 7 Aug.
2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015
Watts, Jonathan. "Chinese Human Rights Activist Liu Xiaobo Sentenced to 11 Years in
Jail."Theguardian. Theguardian, 25 Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
"World Press Freedom Day." UN News Center. United Nations. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.