Statement on the Second Year Anniversary of the Murders of Xulhaz and Tonoy


Wednesday, April 25, 2018


On April 25, 2016, five men murdered Xulhaz Mannan and Khandoker Mahbub Tonoy inside Xulhaz’s apartment in Dhaka. The incident took place in front of Xulhaz Mannan’s mother. The security guard was injured as he tried to stop the murderers from entering the apartment. A CCTV camera installed about 300 yards from the house captured footage of five men running away with their alleged accomplices standing by. A police officer who was patrolling the area snatched the backpack of one of the men and was assaulted in the process. Two years have passed by since the gruesome incident and the relevant authorities have failed to arrest a single murderer. The slowness of the investigation into the murders of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy attests to the slow death of human rights in Bangladesh.

The killings had a terrorizing effect on gender and sexual minority groups in the country. The LGBTQ community felt threatened, helpless, and went under hiding. In the last two years, Bangladeshi civil society has been strangely quiet about the murders of ‘gay’ activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy. Roopbaan believes when one human rights defender is threatened, all human rights defenders are threatened. If people can get away with murdering one human rights defender, it will not be long before other human rights defenders also face violence. The killing of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy and the subsequent silence of writers, artists, intellectuals and society at large is a devastating indication of the failure of civil society in Bangladesh.

The government must bring Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy’s murderers to justice. Ensuring accountability is the only way the government can lift the climate of fear that has descended on the human rights community in Bangladesh. We affirm people’s rights to express themselves and live their lives freely.