Xulhaz Mannan - Editor, Bangladesh LGBT magazine Roopbaan. He is at the Canyon Swing at the Last Resort in Nepal, world's highest giant swing.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has organized a candlelight vigil in honor of victims of religious violence, including two prominent gay rights activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tanay, in Bangladesh Wednesday evening.
The vigil has been organized to honor the lives of those who have died exercising their right to freedom of belief and thought, in a country where radical Islamic extremism is growing exponentially. "By attending, you stand in solidarity with Hindus, along with all religious and social minorities of Bangladesh as they confront religious extremism and rampant violence," an HAF press release issued by Jay Kansara, HAF director of government relations, reads. "Members of the United States and Bangladesh governments have also been invited to attend."
Two weeks ago, Xulhaz Mannan, a US Embassy staff member, who was a prominent LGBT activist, and editor of Bangladesh's first and only LGBT magazine Roopbaan. was murdered by extremists alongside his comrade and prominent artist Mahbub Tanay. In a separate incident another Hindu was killed.
Xulhaz Mannan position at the embassy was described as USAID Foreign Service National.US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, and offered full cooperation in bringing the culprits to justice.
"From an early age, Xulhaz demonstrated a passion for helping others - a passion that would grow throughout his life. He was the kind of person willing to fight for what he believed in, someone ready to stand up for his own rights and the rights of others," said Gayle Smith, USAID Administrator. "A dedicated and courageous advocate for human rights, Xulhaz sought to shape a society that was more diverse and inclusive. He believed in the people of Bangladesh, and he strove to make the world a better place for everyone."
Xulhaz devoted extra time to building a more open and welcoming workplace, serving as a founding member of the U.S. Embassy Diversity Committee, Smith said. Xulhaz was a Masters of Social Science in Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Dhaka.
A senior member of the Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC agreed that the killers could be connected to those Islamists who carried out crimes against humanity on the Bengalis during the 1971 war. As many as three million Bengalis, a lage chunk of who were Hindus, were killed by the Pakistani soldiers. At least 200,000 women were raped by the army and tens of thousands of what came to be called "Babies of War" were born. Indian army soldiers were ordered to go the rescue of the Bengali people by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, daughter of India's founding father Jawahar Lal Nehru, a Kashmiri Pandit
On Tuesday, Bangladesh carried out the hanging of Motiur Rahman Nizami, amir or chief of the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat Islami, who was convicted of genocide, rape and massacres.
A number of Hindu, atheist, humanist scholars and gay rights activists will speak at the vigil.
According to Kansara this is what is happening in Bangladesh:
- Monday, a Sufi leader was killed by Islamic radicals for preaching tolerance.
- Just last week, Nikhil Joarder, a Hindu accused of blasphemy four years ago, was hacked to death by Islamic radicals near Dhaka.
- In early April, a secular activist, Nazimmudin Samad, was hacked to death in Dhaka, while Rezaul Karim Siddique, a proponent of Bengali culture, was killed in Rajshahi.
- In February of this year, Jogeshwar Roy, a Hindu priest, was beheaded in broad daylight on the premises of his temple by Islamic extremists in northern Bangladesh.
- Last year, Avijit Roy, a US citizen and prominent scholar, was hacked to death outside the Dhaka book fair sparking several deadly attacks on members of the Hindu community, Christians, Shias, secularists, and atheists.
Date: This Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm (candles will be provided)
Venue: Dupont Circle Fountain - Washington, DC (On the metro Red Line)
Local Contact: Jay Kansara (info@HAFsite.org)
For more info: Click here