SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 27, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Dhaka

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 27, 2015, unidentified individuals attacked Bangladeshi writer Avijit Roy and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, with machetes, as the couple left a book fair on the campus of the University of Dhaka.  The couple was taken to the hospital, where Roy died shortly afterward; as of this report, Ms. Bonya remains in critical condition.

Roy was a prominent writer and blogger, and an outspoken supporter of secularism and critic of religious extremism.  He had reportedly received numerous death threats after the 2014 publication of his book, “The Virus of Faith.” As of this report, the attackers have not been identified, but a police investigation was underway.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently targeted, on campus killing of an intellectual.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and freedom of expression. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of academic communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.