Bangladesh, two LGBT activists killed
by Sumon Corraya

Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Majumder were hacked to death with machetes. Six men raided the apartment of Xulhaz and also wounded the building’s security guard. The US official had founded the first newspaper that deals with the rights of the LGBT community in the country. In Bangladesh homosexual relations are illegal.


Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Xulhaz Mannan, an official of the US government, and his companion Tonoy Majumder were murdered last night in Dhaka because they belong to the gay community and are activists in favor of gay rights in Bangladesh.

Unknown criminals broke into Xulhaz’s apartment and hacked the two men to death with machetes. Marcia Bernicat, US Ambassador in Bangladesh, condemned the murder: "I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi this evening in Dhaka. Xulhaz was more than a colleague to those of us fortunate to work with him at the U.S. Embassy. He was a dear friend. Our prayers are with Xulhaz, the other victim, and those injured in the attack. We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the Government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders".

The aggressions against the two activists of the LGBT community took place last night. Parvez Mollah, the security guard who monitored entry into the building, said six men presented themselves, dressed in the uniforms of a courier company. The men carried bags, and told the guard they had to deliver a pack to Xulhaz’s apartment. On gaining entry to the building, they broke into the apartment and killed the two men with an ax to the head and neck. The security man tried to stop the attack, and was attacked in turn.

Xulhaz was a well-known face of the homosexual community of Bangladesh. He was the director of "Roopban", the first newspaper in the country in favor of the LGBT community. Tonoy instead worked for a year at the same newspaper, and had previously worked for "Boy of Bangladesh", the gay community platform.

In the Muslim majority Asian country, relations with persons of the same sex are illegal. Unofficial figures speak of 1.6 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Other estimates bring the number up to 4.8 million people.

Activists complain that members of the community have no social, religious rights or legal support. A gay resident of Dhaka, speaking anonymously to AsiaNews says: "In Bangladesh we live like the dumb. We can not raise our voice for the public and the radicals persecute us. We want to live in peace. We do not create problems for anyone. "

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has strongly condemned the two killings and offered help in the investigation. John Kirby, his spokesman, said they did not know the motives of the attack, but has also defined the US official as a "courageous defender" of LGBT rights, which "are human rights. The killing is beyond words, it is not justifiable”.