The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce, on the third anniversary of the assassination of Avijit Roy, the creation of an annual award in his name. Roy, the Bangladesh-American writer and atheist, died at the hands of militant Islamists on the streets of Dhaka.
This year's Hedenius Prize is awarded to Shamima Aktar for her work for women's rights and integration, as well as as representative of secular bloggers and activists forced to fly to Sweden from Bangladesh.
Avijit Roy(1972-2015) was a voice of reason in an age when people boast of their ignorance and lies are claimed as alternatives to universal truths. A software engineer by profession and a writer by passion Avijit Roy was a leading Bangladeshi-American human rights activist, author and a pioneer in Bengali free-thought movement.
The notion of freedom changes with time and space. At this moment, our species is standing at a crossroad of history, where individual liberty, freedom of expression, conscience, and belief have become a very important part of our existence. We are demanding equal rights regardless of sex, gender, class, race - you name it. We, the secular community, are demanding freedom for all, which is the greatest demand of our time.
A software engineer by profession and a writer by passion Avijit Roy(1972-2015) was a leading Bangladeshi-American human rights activist, author and a pioneer in Bengali free-thought movement. In 2001, Avijit launched a virtual discussion group of freethinkers of mainly Bengali and South Asian descent. This small discussion group would eventually lead to the inception of the first secular humanist website in the Bengali language, called 'Mukto-mona.' The literal English translation of 'Mukto-Mona' is 'Free-thinker.' As an Internet congregation of freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, atheists & humanists Mukto-Mona gave a platform for the secular ethos of Bangladeshi culture to be reinvigorated. In an interview with a daily newspaper, Avijit described his organization's aspirations by the following lines,
The Hague showing solidarity to people who are putting their lives on the line for freedom of expression
Press Release 21/02/2017
In one of the most despicable attempts to restrict free expression to be seen in recent times, Bangla Academy has tried to impose a two-year ban on "Srabon Prokashoni," a secular publishing house.
Thanks to Freedom from Religion Foundation for the Forward Award. Thanks for being a partner at this critical time, helping the freethinkers in Bangladesh from half the world away. Let me introduce myself first and then I will come to the situation in Bangladesh.