BBC and Guardian are reporting the horrific murder of an open LGBT rights activist in Bangladesh. According to the report, police say the top gay rights activist, Xulhaz Mannan, who is the editor at the the country’s only LGBT magazine is one of two people who have been hacked to death.
Mannan was one of two people hacked to death in an attack in the capital, Dhaka, by a gang posing as couriers in order to gain access to his apartment in the Kalabagan area of the city.
The US ambassador to Bangladesh condemned the killing of Mannan, who also worked at the US embassy.
Another person was also injured when the attackers entered a Dhaka flat.
Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist bloggers and members of religious minority groups.
The two men were murdered two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.
So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility – but the Bangladeshi government insists there is no IS presence in the country.
“I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi,” said US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat.
“We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders,” she added.
Image caption The other victim, identified by Bangladeshi media as Tanay Mojumdar, also worked at Roopbaan
BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, which had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.
Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.
A British photographer who knew Mr Mannan and the other victim, known as “Tonoy” and named in Bangladeshi media as Tanay Mojumdar, said they and other friends had set up Roopbaan with the aim of spreading tolerance.
Homosexuality is technically illegal in Bangladesh and remains a highly sensitive issue in society.
Both men were openly gay and believed that if more gay Bangladeshis came out then the country would have to accept them, the photographer said.
They were also were behind the annual “Rainbow Rally”, held on Bengali New Year, 14 April, since 2014. This year’s rally was banned by police as part of widespread security measures.
“Both were extremely gentle, non-violent and aware that being openly gay and active in their work was a personal danger,” the photographer said.
Their killings were likely to spread fear among Bangladesh’s gay community, he said. READ MORE
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