For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., Aug. 20, 2015)—The American Humanist Association supports the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s open letter condemning the string of brutal murders of humanist bloggers in Bangladesh.
The letter, signed by Rebecca Hale, president of the American Humanist Association, and Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, has been endorsed by hundreds of bloggers, free speech advocates, humanist associations, progressive religious organizations and ex-Muslim groups around the world. It calls upon Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid to bring the murderers to justice and end the “quasi-blasphemy” laws that restrict free expression on religion. It also decries the responses of Bangladesh’s authorities, who have blamed the victims instead of protecting those whose lives are still threatened.
“The brave bloggers in Bangladesh who stand up for the right to criticize religious extremism must be protected,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The universal human right to freedoms of speech and secular government are essential for building an open, tolerant and stable society.”
“People must be able to discuss and debate religion and politics, beliefs and practices. If they cannot, then injustice, fear and violence will reign,” the letter states.
The American Humanist Association mourns the tragic killings of four bloggers in the past six months: Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das and Niladri Chatterjee. In June, the American Humanist Association, with the Secular Coalition for America and the Center for Inquiry, hosted briefings in the U.S. Congress and Senate to educate legislators about the dire need for religious freedom in Bangladesh and other parts of the world. The American Humanist Association also supports U.S. House Resolution 396, which would oppose blasphemy laws and support free expression for atheists, humanists and religious minorities. Through its advocacy and educational work, the American Humanist Association is committed to upholding the human rights of atheists and humanists to live free from the intimidation of religious extremism.
The full letter is available here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.