It was announced on Tuesday, August 31 that six men allegedly involved with the brutal attack on gay rights activists in 2016 have been sentenced to death for their alleged hate-crime, reports The New York Times.
Xulhaz Mannan was known for his work in his hometown of Dhaka as an activist who founded the magazine Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s first LGBTQIA+ paper, in 2014. In April 2016 prior to his death, Mannan had also attempted to organise a Pride march before it was shut down by police due to threats of violence and religious backlash.
The New York Times reports that later that same month, Mannan and his friend Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were allegedly murdered in Mannan’s home after a group of men posing as couriers entered his apartment complex with concealed machetes.
According to CNN, Mannan and Tonoy were two victims in a number of murders that occurred during the same month. Included among other victims was an atheist blogger and a university professor. It is alleged that these attacks were coordinated against academics, secular writers and activists.
The investigations led to eight men being charged with the crime against Mannan and Tonoy with six of those men being convicted. The Special Anti-Terrorism Tribunal concluded that the six men were part of the banned militant group Ansar al-Islam who have been connected to Al Queda, reports The New York Times.
According to CNN, four of the men are in custody with four others currently at large. The four men not in custody were tried in absentia, with two being convicted for the crime.
The lawyers for the defendants have commented saying they will appeal the verdict and have also categorically denied their clients’ involvement with Ansar al-Islam.
Shahanur Islam, a gay rights campaigner, commented on the verdict saying, “We are happy with the judgment. At least after a long time, we get justice.
“Now we have to see what step the government takes. Two culprits are still absconded. Now our expectation the government will take prompt action for execution of judgment after arresting the absconded culprits,” said Islam.