[An eight-story building collapsed Wednesday in Savar, an outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital, killing at least 123 people and injuring more than 1,000. Due to the National Day of Mourning in Bangladesh on April 25, protests have been postponed to May 2.]
An international coalition of atheist and humanist organizations, led by the Center for Inquiry and our partners the International Humanist and Ethical Union and American Atheists, will protest the arrest and persecution of atheist bloggers and other dissenters in Bangladesh with demonstrations in New York City, Washington, D.C., London, Ottawa, and other cities around the world on Thursday, May 2.
Bangladesh has recently been at the center of a human rights crisis as authorities have detained several prominent atheist bloggers for “hurting religious sentiments,” followed by the arrest of a newspaper editor who printed quotations from the targeted bloggers, and two more young people for making “derogatory remarks” about Islam on Facebook. Tens of thousands of people have rallied in the country’s capital to demand more arrests, tougher blasphemy laws, and have threatened violence if their demands are not met by April 25.
With these unprecedented demonstrations, secularists around the world will express their solidarity with those jailed for speaking their minds about religion. Protesters will draw global attention to the plight of those persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of belief and expression, and attempt to spur the international community to take action and compel the government of Bangladesh to change course.
“The events in Bangladesh are only the latest instance of a fierce global crackdown on ‘blasphemy,’ with the criminalization of atheism and religious dissent,” said protest coordinator Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy. “To all those who believe that the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, we call upon you to join us, religious believer and atheist alike. We can show those whose lives and freedoms are threatened that they are not forgotten, and send a message to these oppressive regimes that their abuses will not be ignored.”
Protest events are so far confirmed for the following cities on May 2, 2013:
- Washington, DC: Embassy of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. 4:30 pm ET. Details here.
- New York City: Office of the Consulate General of Bangladesh, 211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017. 4:30 pm ET
Will begin at Grand Central Station, move to the consulate, and then the United Nations building. Details here.
- Columbia, MO: Peace Park, Columbia, MO. 12 pm CT. Hosted by MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheist, Secular Humanist, and Agnostics). Details here.
- Ottawa: High Commission for Bangladesh, Constitution Square Centre, 340 Albert St, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7Y6. 4:30 pm ET. Details here.
- Calgary: Consulate of Bangladesh, 633 6th Avenue South West, T2P 2Y6. 4:30 pm MT. Details here.
- Toronto: Eaton Centre, 214-2 College St., Toronto, Ontario M5G 1K3. 12 pm ET. Details here.
- The British Humanist Association is holding a leafleting protest throughout the day outside or near the Bangladesh High Commission in London. Volunteers are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 28 Queen’s Gate London SW7 5JA
- Dhaka: Press Club, 4:30pm in UTC+07. (Independently organized)
More cities and events to be announced. Keep checking back here.
Twitter hashtag #DefendDissent.
To coordinate an event, contact email@example.com
CFI is a signatory to the Day of Action declaration in support of the persecuted bloggers begun by activist Maryam Namazie.
Learn more about those persecuted for blasphemy and dissent at the Campaign for Free Expression, www.centerforinquiry.net/cfe.
Special thanks to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science for their promotional help.