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Eight charged over murders of LGBT rights activists in Bangladesh

Eight charged over murders of LGBT rights activists in Bangladesh

Xulhaz Mannan (Photo: Facebook)

Bangladesh police on Sunday (12 May) charged eight members of an extremist group with the brutal murders of two LGBT activists.

LGBT magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan and fellow activist Mahbub Tonoy were hacked to death in their Dhaka apartment in April 2016.

Deputy commissioner of police Mohibul Islam Khan on Sunday told AFP the counter terrorism unit filed the charges. The eight men were reportedly members of banned extremist group, Ansar al Islam.

‘Among them, four have been arrested and the rest are still at large,’ Mohibul Islam Khan reportedly said.

Police believe Ansar al Islam may be behind a series of murders since 2013.

Islamist extremists targeted atheist journalists, activists, members of religious minorities, and foreign aid workers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh is widely intolerant of its LGBTI population.

Gay sex is illegal under Section 377 of the Penal Code. The same colonial-era law that India dismantled last year.

Xulhaz Mannan’s story

Before his death, Mannan was the senior editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBTI magazine, Roopbaan.

He also organized Bangladesh’s Rainbow Rally, a protest for LGBTI rights held on 14 April since 2014.

In 2016, a group of men killed Mannan and Tonoy using machetes in a gruesome display of violence.

According to police, they entered an apartment in Dhaka, the capital, and then attacked their victims.

Both victims also worked for the government aid organization, USAID.

In the days leading up to Mannan’s death, he received multiple death threats and government intimidation.

Following his murder, many LGBTI Bangladeshis have fled the country in fear of their lives.

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