April 29, 2016

The Hacking To Death of Activists in a Secretive Community which Will Make it More Secret

Follow up on ISIS Hacks to Death Gay….



                                                                            
Xulhaz Mannan.jpg
Xulhaz Mannan
BornOctober 13, 1976
DiedApril 25, 2016 (aged 39)
Dhaka, Bangladesh wikipedia
                                  
“To run a magazine about LGBT issues, to campaign on these issues in Bangladesh, you have to be a very brave person, very bold,” says photographer Gazi Nafis Ahmed. “Xulhaz Mannan was the one who made Roopbaan magazine happen. He was a very special man.”
Speaking to the Guardian shortly after Xulhaz Mannan’s murder by Islamist extremists, Ahmed explained that it was the repression of the LGBT community in his home country of Bangladesh that had inspired his own work, a long-term photography project entitled Inner Face. 
“I studied photography in Denmark and saw there what sexual liberty was like in western countries. It was amazing.” After he finished his degree he began to photograph the LGBT community in Bangladesh. “There were an amazing amount of men who were brave enough and said to me that ‘we want to go for it, we want to get our voices out there’. In Bangladesh it is not easy for the LGBTQ community people to practice their freedom of expression as in many other countries. But I felt that, through my art, these human beings could have the choice to have their voices out there.”

A Secret Bangladesh a secret LGBT try to shine some light for others in the shadows
Ahmed began his project, photographing the members of the underground LGBT community, and, where possible, recording their stories, back in 2008. He approached the Bandhu Social Welfare Society which address concerns of human rights abuse and denial of sexual health rights, and provide a rights-based approach to health and social services for the most stigmatized and vulnerable populations in Bangladesh. “They helped me to make connections and get in touch with people and, over the years that followed,my network expanded.
“The LGBT scene in Bangladesh is very, very underground. There are essentially two different social groups. The upper/middle classes. They refer to themselves as gay, they have access to the internet, they’re part of the global network of gay communities and have friends all over the world.” This group set up an online Yahoo peer-networking group the Boys of Bangladesh (BOB) a few years ago, and help and support each other. 
“And then there is the different social class who don’t refer to themselves as LGBT but as MSM. This is a public health designation which stands for Men Who Have Sex With Men. They are low income – cooks, dancers, rickshaw pullers – and there is huge stigma towards them. My work was with both groups.” 
  As he began to exhibit his photographs both in Bangladesh and overseas, the reactions varied. Some were supportive, others angry, but it was the reaction of the mother of one of his subjects which remained with him: “She spoke at one of the exhibitions, saying that her son was the way he was, and that ‘I accept him, and I would like to see other parents accept their children who identify as LGBT in this way’. It was a very important message, I think.”

From US Embassy to USAid
 At a 2008 exhibition of his work, he met Mannan, who was working at the US embassy at that time and would shortly move on to work at USAid. “He reached out to me, thanked me for working on this project and offered to put me in touch with more people. He was a protocol officer of the US embassy, and then went on to USAID. He also founded and edited Roopbaan.” 
Alam and Kabir grew up in the same village and fell in love; at the time of this photo they had been together for 11 years. “We will go on to prove that two men can spend their lives together in complete happiness.” Photograph: Gazi Nafis Ahmed
Mannan “was very kind hearted, always supportive. If I ever asked him he was always ready to support my work. He always had a smile on his face, always a yes for any favor.” Over the years that followed, Mannan and Ahmed were regularly in touch. “He was a very brave person, out as gay to his friends, his close circle, and at his work. In Bangladesh that is absolutely unusual, especially in upper-class circles. But Mannan wanted to start a discourse around LGBT issues, a subject that is so opposed and so stigmatised in Bangladesh.
 “Bangladesh has a patriarchal, conservative society so that makes it difficult, even the mindset of people makes it more difficult. Having a magazine like Roopbaan and talking about these issues is really brave and bold. And it was Xulhaz who made it happen.”

The Rally
 A couple of weeks ago, Mannan invited all his friends to join him on Roopbaan’s annual Rainbow Rally, timed for April 14 to coincide with the Bangladesh new year. The colorful rally, with the participants dressed different colors of rainbow, aims to celebrate diversity and friendship and ensure the participation of people with different sexual orientations, including hijras, in Pohela Boishakh festivities and promote tolerance among all sexes.
 The plans were laid as usual, but the participants were anxious. Over the last couple of years Bangladesh has seen a growing number of homicidal attacks on liberal bloggers and academics; on April 7 Nazimuddin Samad, a law student who criticised Islamism on his Facebook page, was murdered. By the morning of the Rainbow Rally there had been more and more threats aimed not just at the gay marchers but at the traditional Bengali celebrations which feature garlands of flowers and colourful animal masks. The organisers decided to cancel the event. Police then arrested four of the LGBT activists.

Fatal Mistake? But it was time to come up more to the light 
In the next few days, Ahmed says, Mannan moved the Roopbaan Facebook group from ‘closed’ to ‘secret’. And then, two days ago, a group of six men managed to gain access to his apartment and hacked Mannan and the friend with him to death.
 “It was a terrible shock, for everyone,” says Ahmed. Some observers are not optimistic about the future, fearing, like Ibtisam Ahmed in the Conversation this week, that the government’s cowed reaction to the Islamist campaign of terror over the past couple of years means Bangladesh is “on a precipice … the adversaries of moderation, freedom and rationalism are getting bolder”. 
“Whether you support LGBT rights or not, there can never be any justification for murder,” says Ahmed. “But with so many gruesome assassinations of free minds and intellectuals in the country, it seems like anyone can be a target. No one feels safe, that is the truth.”
 But he has also heard that the next publication of Roopbaan may be delayed but will not stop. “That should be the spirit. People should come forward, together, and ask for action against this.”

“In 2013 the Dhaka Tribune wrote and editorial against section 377 of the criminal code stating their belief that while most people in Bangladesh were against homosexuality, they did not want to see people put in jail for it or for the government to waist resources treating it as a crime.Wikepedia

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