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Four Bangladeshi bloggers arrested for "blasphemous" posts

Police arrested bloggers Moshiur Rahman Biblop, Rasel Parvez, and Subrata Shuvo, in connection with their alleged anti-Islamic blogging online
Police arrested bloggers Moshiur Rahman Biblop, Rasel Parvez, and Subrata Shuvo, in connection with their alleged anti-Islamic blogging online

Demotix/Rehman Asad

UPDATE FROM Reporters Without Borders: Two bloggers released conditionally, two still held (13 May 2013)

On the night of 1 April 2013, the Dhaka police Detective Branch arrested three bloggers - Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez - for allegedly posting "inflammatory" comments online on sensitive religious issues.

Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to release them at once and to stop persecuting news providers. The three bloggers are the first to be arrested since the creation of a government committee to combat online blasphemy on 13 March.

"The desire to restore calm does not justify persecuting non-religious bloggers, especially as these arrests, carried out on the pretext of combating blasphemy, do not in any way guarantee an end to the tension and unrest linked to the current trial of former Islamist politicians for war crimes," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The authorities must stop trying to appease the Islamist groups and instead protect the country's citizens."

Detective Branch spokesman Masudur Rahman told bdnews24.com that the three bloggers were arrested in the Indira Road, Palashi and Monipuri Parha districts of Dhaka on the night of 1 April and that their laptop and personal computers were seized.

Shuvo was identified as a Dhaka University student by classmate Abdur Rahim, who said he was arrested at the Jagannath university dormitory for minorities by two men who arrived at the entrance in a white minibus at around 10:30 pm.

After several hours in police custody, a Dhaka court ordered them detained provisionally for seven days, the Daily Times reported.

Members of the Islamist organisation Hefazat-e-islam Bangladesh gather for a grand rally to ask for proper punishment for the arrested bloggers
Members of the Islamist organisation Hefazat-e-islam Bangladesh gather for a grand rally to ask for proper punishment for the arrested bloggers

Demotix/Zakir Hossain Chowdhury

Blogger Asif Mohiuddin arrested over "blasphemous" blog posts

In a subsequent development, Asif Mohiuddin, a militant atheist blogger who has been hounded by Bangladeshi Islamists and officials, was arrested on 3 April by the Detective Branch of the Dhaka police and interrogated about his recent posts. According to the police, there was a possibility he would be taken before a judge on 4 April.

"We call for Mohiuddin's immediate and unconditional release," Reporters Without Borders said on 3 April. "After being the victim of a knife attack in January, he is in very poor health and needs constant medical attention. The Detective Branch told us he is being 'treated well' but the opposite is happening - he continues to be held in deplorable conditions of hygiene and lack of access to medical treatment.

"The persecution of atheist bloggers is the result of a political desire to restrict freedom of expression and reinforce censorship in the name of combating blasphemy. The home ministry's announcement that seven other bloggers are to be arrested is meant to discourage news providers. This is unacceptable and contrary to all the fundamental freedoms we defend."

Reached by telephone on 3 April, the Detective Branch told Reporters Without Borders that Mohiuddin would remain in detention until taken before a judge, possible at noon on 4 April. As of 3 April, he had no lawyer.

Mohiuddin was arrested for posting "anti-religious" comments on his blog, which the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked on 31 March.

Police investigators already questioned Mohiuddin about his blog on 23 March.

Mohiuddin was badly wounded in an apparent murder attempt in Dhaka on 14 January. Another blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was found hacked to death in a Dhaka street a month later, on 15 February.
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