Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, known by the nickname Tutul, is a writer and editor. He won the Pinter International Writer of Courage Award. The past year he attacked with machetes and guns by fundamentalists. He now lives in exile in Norway with his family. He challenges his critics to "answer me with literature, and not through violence."
London (AsiaNews) - The Bangladeshi writer and publisher Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, known by the nickname Tutul, yesterday received the "International Writer of Courage" award in London from the International PEN writers association.
Last year he survived an attack by Islamic extremists, who attacked him viciously with machetes and shot at him leaving him for dead for his progressive ideas. Receiving the award, Tutul challenged his critics to "respond to my ideas with writing, rather than through violence. In Bangladesh some are making huge efforts to pull civilization backwards and repeat the events and the lies of the time of the barbarians. "
Tutul is an editor, writer and founder of the magazine and publishing house "Shuddhashar", which is based in Dhaka. With his work he promotes the progressive works of local writers and bloggers.
Because of the attack, he and his family were forced to flee to Norway, where they still live. Yesterday he said: "We are challenging this process of regression [to a barbaric civilization] through rational thinking and our actions. Challenge us with literature. Do not issue fatwas to kill me and others. Do not cover murderers who have knives and guns. "
Since 2015, since the start of a wave of Islamic violence against publishers, bloggers, free thinkers, democracy activists and members of Hindu and Christian religious minorities at least nine writers were killed.
Tutul said that, to date, there are no conditions to return to his country. "I'm considering - he says - alternative ways to continue my work." But then he admits: "I miss my country. All my work I've done in Bangladesh and it is difficult to start again elsewhere. I continue to dream of the day when I can return. "
Since 2009, the UK based PEN association continues to award the Pinter International Writer of Courage Award and the PEN Pinter Prize to those who have distinguished themselves for their " fierce intellectual determination" which "describe the true reality of life and society" and are " persecuted for expressing their opinions. "
Noted writer Margaret Atwood, who won this year's PEN Pinter Prize, said: "It is an honor to share this award with Tutul. Not only has he demonstrated personal courage in the face of adversity, but he also risked everything in order to give voice to many Bangladeshis who may otherwise remain silent, because of the violence and uncertainty. "