Delayed justice for family of writer . . .
A local court in Dhaka, Bangladesh, sentenced four people to death yesterday for the 2004 brutal killing of Humayun Azad, a prominent writer and academic at Dhaka University. Members of the Muslim group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) brutally attacked Azad with machetes while he was on his way home from a book fair. He died later that year while undergoing treatment in Germany. While announcing the verdict, the judge said the convicts committed a “heinous offence.” Two of the four sentenced to death are on the run, and the fifth suspect was killed by police in 2014 while reportedly attempting to flee custody.
First in a series . . .
Azad’s murder is considered the first in a series of killings of secular activists, intellectuals, foreigners, and religious and sectarian minorities in Bangladesh between 2013 and 2016 by Muslim right-wing groups. Most were killed in broad daylight with machetes. The JMB, founded in 1998, vowed to create an Islamic state in Bangladesh through violence. It was responsible for a series of deadly bomb blasts throughout the country in 2005. Bangladesh’s elite counter-terrorism agency cracked down on the JMB, arresting hundreds of members and executing several senior members in 2007.
Capital punishment in the Asia Pacific . . .
Capital punishment remains a common practice throughout much of the Asia Pacific, despite a United Nations moratorium on the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, Bangladesh, China, India, North Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam carried out executions in 2020. Many others still permit capital punishment and have prisoners on death row. But there are also many ongoing conversations about the practice. For example, in Singapore, one of the most vocal supporters of the death sentence, research suggests that while the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans supports the death penalty, support fell when people were presented with different scenarios and asked to choose whether the specific person should be executed. Despite diverse opinions held on the death penalty in the region, total abolishment of the practice seems some ways off.
- Al Jazeera: Bangladesh sentences four to death for prominent writer’s murder
- End Corporal Punishment: South Asia and Asia and the Pacific
- The Guardian: Singapore hardens opinion against death penalty as ‘sense of injustice’ grows