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

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2 May 2016



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:

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 Athar, Coordinator, CSBR

South Asian Human Rights Association of Marginalised Sexualities and Genders


Endorsed By The Following Organizations:

1. Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP), Philippines

2. Blue Diamond Society, Nepal

3. Central Initiative for Transgender, Young Gay, Lesbian Asylum Seekers (CITY GLASS), Kenya

4. Consultation Centre of Aids Aid and Health Service, China

5. EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka


7. GAURAV, India

8. GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation, Indonesia

9. Haus of Khameleon, Fiji

10. Health Options for Transgender (HOT GENDER), Tanzania

11. Health Options for Transgender, Tanzania

12. HIV YOUNG VOICES (Hi 5), Kenya

13. Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia

14. Human Rights- Youth Health Support Centre NGO, Mongolia

15. I-Girl group, Việt Nam


17. ILGA Oceania

18. India HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi, India

19. Khwaja Sira Society, Pakistan

20. LGBT Kiribati, Kiribati

21. Life Gets Better Together (LGBT FOUNDATION), South Sudan

22. Lighthouse club, Việt Nam

23. NAZ Pakistan, Pakistan

24. NGO Phoenix PLUS, Russia

25. Oogachaga, Singapore

26. Organization Intersex International-Chinese, Taiwan

27. PinoyFTM (Filipino Trans Men), Philippines

28. Project Mama, Rwanda

29. QUEER ESCORT NETWORK (Quest Net), Madagascar

30. Rainbow Pride Foundation Youth Wing, Fiji

31. Safety Urban Network (SUN East Africa), Uganda and Kenya Chapter

32. Samoa Faafafine Association, Samoa

33. Sangama, India

34. Sierra Leone Youth Coalition on HIV & AIDS, Sierra Leone


36. South Asian Human Rights Association for Marginalized Genders & Sexualities (SAHRA)


38. Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association, Taiwan

39. Transgender Resource Center, Hong Kong

40. Transgender Youth Revolving Fund (TRAY REFUND), Uganda

41. Transmen Indonesia, Indonesia

42. Transpiration Power, Thailand

43. We are students club, Việt Nam

44. Yourself Belize Movement, Belize

Endorsed By The Following Individuals:

1. Abhina Aher, India

2. Ahsan Ullah, Bangladesh

3. AR Arcon, Philippines

4. Farid Ahmed, Bangladesh

5. Idrissa A. Conteh, Sierra Leone

6. Jake Oorloff, Sri Lanka

7. Jofiliti Veikoso, Fiji

8. Kemas Achmad Mujoko, Indonesia

9. Masaki Inaba, Japan

10. Nguyễn Đặng Duy Anh, Việt Nam

11. Qasim Iqbal, Pakistan

12. Raksak Kongseng Desaulniers, Thailand

13. Sumit Pawar, India

14. To’oto’oali’I Roger Stanley, Samoa

15. Trung Tâm NT.LGBT, Việt Nam

16. Tuisina Ymania Brown, Samoa

17. Vaialia Iosua, Samoa

Media Contacts:

Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director, APCOM:, +66-85-360-5200 (Bangkok)

Sattara Hattirat, Regional Coordinator, ILGA Asia:, +66-82-339-5252 (Bangkok)

Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus:, +63-917-879-7710 (Manila)

Natt Kraipet, Network Coordinator, APTN:, +66-82-653-3999 (Bangkok)

Niluka Perera, Project Officer, Youth Voices Count:, +66-94-835-1762 (Bangkok)

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