Defend-Taslima demonstrations both in Bangladesh and India
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
The news concerning our colleague and your compatriot, Dr. Taslima Nasrin, is most disquieting! I entreat you to exert the uttermost resources of state in protecting this rare ambassador of Bangladesh, whose only crime is the unusual courage she continues to display, and the consecration of her art to the upliftment of her fellow men and women.
It will be a grave crime against humanity, and a blot on the flag of your great nation, Bangladesh, if Dr. Nasrin falls victim of mob rule, of bigotry, of fanaticism and intolerance masquerading under the cloak of piety. Dr. Nasrin's voice is the voice of humanism everywhere, and we trust that the conventions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Bangladesh is signatory, will guide the actions of your government towards this courageous, and worthy representative of those values that earned Bangladesh her enviable status among world civilizations.
With all good wishes, I remain,
Nobel Laureate in Literature, 1986
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
I am writing to urge your protection for Dr. Taslima Nasrin. She is a respected member of the International Academy of Humanism, and her case has attracted international attention. It would be a terrible thing if legal action were to taken against her for an expression of opinion, or if she were not to be protected against criminal violence.
With thanks in advance for whatever you can do to preserve the liberty and safety of Dr. Nasrin.
1979 Nobel Prize-winner in Physics
His Excellency the High Commissioner
... Having lived in the East for over four decades, and having associated with many Muslim friends - including the astronaut Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia, whose guest I was in Riyadh - I am personally aware that Islam is a very tolerant faith. It is unfortunate that fundamentalists have interpreted Islamic principles and laws in ways that invoke resentment and call for violence.
I understand that the blasphemy cases against Dr. Nasrin were initiated by the previous government and by individual extremists, and it seems the present government is under pressure to continue this process. I would like to join intellectual and human rights activists around the world in calling upon the government to ensure Dr. Nasrin's right to life, liberty, and freedom of expression. ...
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, CBE
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you out of concern for Dr. Taslima Nasrin. Many of us hope and indeed trust that your Government will protect this distinguished person from the crude violence that threatens her and abstain from prosecuting her for her alleged views.
Sir Hermann Bondi, KCB, FRS
Former Master, Churchill College, Cambridge
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Republic of Bangladesh
I write on behalf of the International Academy of Humanism to express our concern for the safety of one of our distinguished members, Dr. Taslima Nasrin.
Limited to 70 individuals of outstanding artistic, scientific, and humanitarian achievements, the Academy includes such renowned international figures as the Nobel laureates Wole Soyinka, Leopold Sedar Senghar, Steven Weinberg, Herbert Hauptmann, and Murray Gell-Mann. I and other members of the International Academy of Humanism have worked closely with Dr. Nasrin in recent years and have found her to be an outstanding representative of the rich culture of Bangladesh. The Academy is proud to count Dr. Nasrin among its members, and will be unstinting in its efforts to defend this courageous champion of human rights.
As you know, throughout her four-year unhappy exile from her homeland, Dr. Nasrin constantly spoke of her love for Bangladesh and her people, and of her desire to return to her home. In September of this year, Dr. Nasrin courageously returned to Bangladesh under difficult personal circumstances. Unfortunately, instead of letting Dr. Nasrin come to terms with her mother's fatal illness, Muslim fundamentalists in your country are renewing calls for her execution on the charge of blasphemy.
In addition, the international community has been disturbed to hear reports of the revival of the court case against her under Section 295 A of Bangladesh Penal Code for having "deliberately and maliciously outraged the religious sentiments of a class of citizens," the issuing of a warrant of arrest against her, and the court order for seizure of her property.
Madame Prime Minister, the International Academy of Humanism implores you to ensure the safety of Dr. Nasrin. We trust that your government will honor its sovereign obligations under international conventions, and ensure respect for the freedom of belief guaranteed by both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Intellectual leaders and human rights campaigners around the world are rallying to defend Dr. Nasrin's freedom of conscience. We appeal to your government to take the lead in defending Dr. Nasrin's right to life, liberty, and free expression. We hope that your government will publicly declare its support for Dr. Nasrin's right to live in safety in her homeland, and will bring to justice those who call for her death.
Professor Paul Kurtz
President, International Academy of Humanism
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State, U.S.A.
Abdus Samad Azad, Foreign Minister, Bangladesh
U.N. High Commission for Human Rights
U.N. Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
TThis letter from Bat Ye'or to Taslima Nasreen was published in French (17 August 1994) at the request of the Paris based Reporters sans Frontières, (Reporters without Borders International). Writers were requested to send letters of support to Taslima Nasreen, for publication in a world campaign through the press. The action was called off when Taslima Nasreen was authorized to leave Bangladesh on 10 August 1994. Nonetheless Reporters sans Frontières published Chère Taslima Nasreen... (Paris, Stock, October 1994) with 15 letters in this order: Salman Rushdie, Bernard Henri-Levy, Rachid Mimouni, Nadine Gordimer, Philippe Sollers, Bat Ye'or, Leïla Sebar, Rada Ivekovic, Pierre Mertens, Susan Sontag, Eric Loest, Elfried Jelinek, Mohammed Choukri, Irene Frain, Amitav Gosh, and an answer from Taslima Nasreen. [French version of this letter, Tribune de Geneve, 17 August 1994].
I am one among the millions of your unknown admirers. Admirers for the nobility, and the courage of your stand in defence of the multitude of humbled and resigned women whose lives are silently sacrified. Yourself a woman, you have been attentive to the calls and the murmurings of mutilated lives. You have not turned away, nor shown indifference, rather you have listened to the complaints, taking them upon yourself. As a fiction writer, you have accepted to assume the torment of others, to lend your voice, your mind, your intelligence to the muted and the recluses of terror.
As a doctor you have endeavoured to diagnose the disease, to remove contempt, prejudice, fanaticism from the social body in an effort to save it. You have done this with the conscience, the rigour, and the detachment of the practitioner who exposes his life at the patient's bedside.
By this twin approach, you have attained a spirited and ethical oeuvre. You had the option of a quiet, confortable life alongside ignomy, acquiescing in all injustices. But you were not to be a silent accomplice. You have denounced social inequality based on sex, prejudice, fanaticism. You have proclaimed solidarity and equality among all human beings.
This is why you were condemned to death. To justify it for public opinion, you are maligned... The irresponsable mob is incited against you, pressure is brought to bear, the whole world is threatened by jihad if your blood is not shed. You are so lonely, Taslima, among your own - those very same whom you protected, now fulminate and reject you.
Why, then, all this sanguinary hatred, this desire for a human sacrifice, this international scandal? If your views displeased, if they are erroneous, why not discuss them, prove how little value they have. But, the reason is your defiance of taboos, that of male domination over the female, of obscurantism over reason, for you infringed the rules that imposed submission and silence. It is your speech that arouses fury, since your speech is neither captive, nor conniving. By acting thus, you have confronted those who claim a monopoly on morality, those who highjack speech, impose intellectual terrorism and reduce their opponents to silence. The ills you have so courageously denounced are pervasive everywhere; they are characteristic of all civilisations and they have engendered genocides, Auschwitz and goulags...
Dear Taslima, do you know that you are also fighting for us in the West? A Western world, which, scoffingly, targeted, during thirty years, only some small nations, nailing them to the stocks of inquisitorial hatred. An easy outlet for a good conscience at little expense, conveniently masking the dehumanisation of hundreds of millions, crushed under the iron rule of monstrous and menacing states or political blocs.
Dear Taslima, your voice reminds us that humanity is everywhere the same, whatever be the colour, creed or sex; that your sorrow is ours, that your dignity is ours, that the denial of your rights is the denial of ours, that your humiliation... is also our shame.
That is why, dear Taslima, so many unknown persons wish to express their gratitude and their admiration. Your voice is the pride of your faith and of your country. It joins the chorus of the voices, past and present, famous and anonymous, of all those who, wounded in their love and their respect for their fellow beings, believed in, craved for, and laid down their lives for a better world.
OPEN LETTER FROM SALMAN RUSHDIE TO TASLIMA NASREEN
SUPPORT FROM INTERNATIONAL PARLIAMENT OF WRITERS
8 October 1994
THE SUPPORT OF RUSHDIE. In the name of IPW, Salman Rushdie expresses his support for Taslima Nasrin and asks the French Government to revoke its decision: " How can she be safe in Lisbon, Stockholm, Stavanger but not in Paris? I always get the impression that Charles Pasqua wants to prove that France is a strong nation. Thus why does he now show that it is so weak? In my case, the security issue is always an excuse, a red herring hiding the cynical motives of such decisions. For those of us who admire French culture and have found inspiration in France's contribution to the language of liberty, it seems essential that the French Government rethink its position. France should not reject those who are persecuted by the enemies of freedom but rather should welcome them with open arms."
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS TASLIMA NASRIN
4 December 1998
The European Parliament, recalling its earlier resolution on human rights in Bangladesh, recalling the tenth anniversary of the Sakharov Prize,
A. whereas in 1994 Mrs. Nasreen, one of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize laureates, had to leave Bangladesh sought refuge in the EU in order to escape arrest in Bangladesh, having been accused of blasphemy,
B. whereas on 14 September Mrs. Nasreen returned to Bangladesh in order to visit her mother who is reported to be terminally ill,
C. whereas Mrs. Nasreen is still threatened by fundamentalists in her country mainly for defending the rights of women in the context of certain Islamic traditions,
1. Declares its support for Taslima Nasreen and reiterates its conviction that freedom of expression is one of the basic human rights;
2. Urges the authorities to do their utmost to guarantee the life and safety of Taslima Nasreen, to stop all legal proceedings against her and to allow her to travel freely;
3. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the Government of Bangladesh.
Support from leninist-international
Letters of Support, CSH - Hermann Bondi, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka, Steven Weinberg
"Taslima Nasreen and Freedom of Speech in Bangladesh," Resolution of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Toronto 1994
International Committee for a Workers and Peoples International in Sweden, "Support for Taslima Nasrin"
Demonstration Pictures on Behalf of Taslima Nasrin
PEN, "Report on Taslima Nasrin" 16 July 1994
"Taking A Stand," American Atheists, 19 Oct 1998
American Humanist Association, "Taslima Nasrin Again in Jeapardy" 2002
Defender Taslima Nasreen
Taslima is in DANGER
Support from WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM
Support from IFEX
American Humanist Association's help