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An Urgent Plea to the Government of Bangladesh

Monday 2 May 2016, by siawi3


Safeguarding Individuals, Civil Society and Our Shared Humanity: An Urgent Plea to the Government of Bangladesh

We, the undersigned, join other voices from across Asia and the Pacific – and around the world – in calling upon the Government of Bangladesh to step up efforts to effectively address the horrific violence that has claimed the lives of several journalists, bloggers, academics, activists and other civilians who advocated for a secular, open, just and equitable society for all citizens — regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexuality or any other labels.

The latest victims of the carnage were the prominent LGBTI activists Xulnaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, both hacked to death by a group of assailants at Mannan’s home in Dhaka. So-called “Islamist” groups, including or linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda, have claimed responsibility for these and previous attacks, but the facts surrounding many of these killings over the past year remain unclear.

The Bangladesh government has sworn to track down those responsible for Mannan and Rabbi’s murders. While we welcome that pledge, the international human rights organization Amnesty International has noted that “not a single person has been held to account” in the various killings so far.

In recent years, LGBTI activists in Bangladesh have sought to expand the space for dialogue and inclusivity for their communities even though they are criminalized by the country’s British-era penal code. These efforts in Bangladesh and other countries such as Indonesia have, on one hand, brought about acceptance and openness on some levels, but have also been met by an increasingly severe backlash as well from a range of actors including governments and religious institutions.

The escalating threats to civil liberties, including LGBTI rights, in so many places are all the more ironic – and dangerous – considering we are in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals that underpin the 2030 Agenda whose primary pledge is “to leave no one behind.”

How can we as a region, and indeed as a world, even begin to fulfil such a pledge if we do not collectively come together to address these threats that target our friends, families and fellow human beings? The rhetoric of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda will indeed ring hollow if we do not bring about genuine openness and understanding leading to an end to persecution and terror. Governments must be held accountable, but organizations such as ours, and each of us as individuals, must play our part as well.

Let us seize this opportunity then to bring about dialogue between governments and civil society, with the support of the United Nations, national, regional and global human rights networks and other facilitators, to tackle the mounting crises in Bangladesh and elsewhere

Together we call on the government of Bangladesh to bring justice and ensure that the rule of law is firmly in place and is implemented to provide safety to all citizens.

All individuals across Asia and the Pacific must not see these atrocities as isolated events, but must act in solidarity to uphold the rights of all human beings.

Ultimately, we must collectively work towards a world where enlightenment prevails, even as we vow never to forget the sacrifice that far too many have made to safeguard our shared humanity.

Signed By:


endorsed by

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director, APCOM
Sattara Hattirat, Regional Coordinator, ILGA Asia
Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
Natt Kraipet, Network Coordinator, APTN
Niluka Perera, Project Officer, Youth Voices Count
Rima Ather, Coordinator, CSBR
South Asian Human Rights Association of Marginalised Sexualities and Genders

Endorsed By The Following Organizations:

Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP), Philippines
Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
Central Initiative for Transgender, Young Gay, Lesbian Asylum Seekers (CITY GLASS), Kenya
Consultation Centre of Aids Aid and Health Service, China
GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation, Indonesia
Haus of Khameleon, Fiji
Health Options for Transgender (HOT GENDER), Tanzania
Health Options for Transgender, Tanzania
Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
Human Rights- Youth Health Support Centre NGO, Mongolia
I-Girl group, Việt Nam
ILGA Oceania
India HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi, India
Khwaja Sira Society, Pakistan
LGBT Kiribati, Kiribati
Life Gets Better Together (LGBT FOUNDATION), South Sudan
Lighthouse club, Việt Nam
NAZ Pakistan, Pakistan
NGO Phoenix PLUS, Russia
Oogachaga, Singapore
Organization Intersex International-Chinese, Taiwan
PinoyFTM (Filipino Trans Men), Philippines
Project Mama, Rwanda
QUEER ESCORT NETWORK (Quest Net), Madagascar
Rainbow Pride Foundation Youth Wing, Fiji
Safety Urban Network (SUN East Africa), Uganda and Kenya Chapter
Samoa Faafafine Association, Samoa
Sangama, India
Sierra Leone Youth Coalition on HIV & AIDS, Sierra Leone
South Asian Human Rights Association for Marginalized Genders & Sexualities (SAHRA)
Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association, Taiwan
Transgender Resource Center, Hong Kong
Transgender Youth Revolving Fund (TRAY REFUND), Uganda
Transmen Indonesia, Indonesia
Transpiration Power, Thailand
We are students club, Việt Nam
Yourself Belize Movement, Belize

Endorsed By The Following Individuals:

Abhina Aher, India
Ahsan Ullah, Bangladesh
AR Arcon, Philippines
Farid Ahmed, Bangladesh
Idrissa A. Conteh, Sierra Leone
Jake Oorloff, Sri Lanka
Jofiliti Veikoso, Fiji
Kemas Achmad Mujoko, Indonesia
Masaki Inaba, Japan
Nguyễn Đặng Duy Anh, Việt Nam
Qasim Iqbal, Pakistan
Raksak Kongseng Desaulniers, Thailand
Sumit Pawar, India
To’oto’oali’I Roger Stanley, Samoa
Trung Tâm NT.LGBT, Việt Nam
Tuisina Ymania Brown, Samoa
Vaialia Iosua, Samoa

Media Contacts:

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director, APCOM

midnightp, +66-85-360-5200 (Bangkok)

Sattara Hattirat, Regional Coordinator, ILGA Asia

sattarah, +66-82-339-5252 (Bangkok)

Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus

rsilverio, +63-917-879-7710 (Manila)

Natt Kraipet, Network Coordinator, APTN

natt.kraipet, +66-82-653-3999 (Bangkok)

Niluka Perera, Project Officer, Youth Voices Count

niluka, +66-94-835-1762 (Bangkok)