On 25 April 2016, armed men attacked HRDs Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy in their apartment in Kalabagan. Both HRDs received serious knife wounds to the head and neck and died soon after. Mannan and Tonoy were prominent LGBTI rights defenders involved with Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s first LGBTI magazine, launched in 2014. The magazine promoted wider tolerance of people of diverse sexual orientations by people in Bangladesh. Mannan also worked for USAID at the time of incident. Previously, he had spent seven years as a Protocol Officer at the United States Embassy in Bangladesh. Tonoy was involved in a theatre group. Both HRDs were among the organisers of the annual ‘Rainbow Rally’ in Dhaka, which since 2014 had been held on 14 April.
Mannan played a key role in negotiating the release of four activists who attended the 2016 Rainbow Rally. In the ten days between the rally and his murder, he reported to his friends that he was receiving an increased volume of threatening phone calls, including death threats, and that Mannan expected to be attacked in the near future. He did not report the threats because of the ongoing police persecution of LGBTI rights defenders.