US calls for asylum to Bangladeshi writers
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged Secretary of State John Kerry to provide asylum for Bangladeshi writers and bloggers who are currently at risk.
The USCIRF in a letter to Kerry asked to initiate the measure for a ‘limited number of Bangladeshi writers at imminent risk of assassination by extremist groups’.
Last year, A coalition of human rights groups called on the United States to grant temporary visas to secular writers from Bangladesh after a series of bloody attacks by Islamist militants.
Five bloggers and a publisher were killed by Islamists in Bangladesh last year, including an American citizen of Bangladeshi origin. The rights groups, led by the PEN American Center, which advocates freedom of expression, said at least four others had been attacked.
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN’s director of free expression programs, said dozens of Bangladeshi writers were living in hiding and seeking "protections their own government is unwilling or unable to provide."
“Bloggers and writers in Bangladesh have nowhere left to turn, as they face both death threats by extremist groups and fear of arrest on charges of blasphemy by government officials seeking to appease religious authorities,” she said in a statement.