Humayun Azad

Humayun Azad was born in Bangladesh in 1947.  After studying linguistics in Dhaka and Edinburgh, where he received his Ph.D., he became a full professor in 1986, teaching Bengali at the University of Dhaka.  His publications include about sixty works, in which he campaigned for women’s rights, for human rights and against religious fundamentalism.  His book Praised Be the Holy Land about collaborating religious groups in Bangladesh during the War of Independence in 1971 was received in Islamist circles as a covert criticism of their own activities.  An Islamic leader and member of parliament threatened him, telling him to expect “serious consequences”.  This was followed by actual deeds.  In 2004, he was seriously injured by knife wounds, his son was kidnapped and the family received death threats.  On 28 July, Amnesty International turned to the public with an Urgent Action, whereupon Humayun Azad was accepted on 8 August 2004 into the PEN Writers in Exile Program.  He died on 12 August 2004 of a heart attack, just days after his arrival in Munich.