May 25, 2012
H.E. Akramul Qader
The Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington, DC
3510 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: 202-244-2771, 202-244-7830
Re: BANGLADESH: Immediately lift ban on website of William Gomes and ask unconditional apology
Dear Mr. AKramul Qader,
I am writing to express my concern regarding the Website, www.williamgomes.org which is blocked by Bangladesh government. I am shocked to hear that a disproportionate amount of force was used to turn off the website www.williamgomes.org after publishing the poem “Anti State”.
William Gomes is a renowned Bangladeshi human rights activist, journalist and author. He is the assistant editor and human rights ambassador for Salem news.com.
William Gomes is a promoter for human rights issues, he always campaigns for the freedom of expression and always advocates for journalists who are under attack.
He runs the Website www.williamgomes.org for human rights activism and the Website itself is a good source of information, providing tools to help with the human rights campaign.
As a reader of this Website, I was enriched by the information regarding the different human rights violations around the world.
I have been informed that 20 May 2012, was the first time William Gomes came to know about the block of his Website from the readers of Bangladesh. It was checked and rechecked from different parts of the country.
In seeking clues about this situation, William approached an expert organization fighting to eliminate the censorship issue. With the help of the IT experts, it is confirmed that his website is blocked in Bangladesh.
According to the report using the DNS command line tool 'dig', we tested a Bangladesh DNS server for the site's availability (hidden).--> dig williamgomes.org @xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx. This command returned nothing, meaning that the DNS server from Bangladesh could not access the site. Whereas :--> dig williamgomes.org @220.127.116.11 worked just fine (using Google's DNS server). At this point, we believe blockage is done by the DNS at an ISP level.
I have been informed that the website block plan was initiated by the killing squad Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence along with some pro government E activists. It has also taken root in the recent campaign against Mr. Gomes in different social media.
I want to inform you that William Gomes has been campaigning to disband the killing squad Rapid Action Battalion and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI).
This matter began after the revolutionary poem “Anti State“ was published on Mr. Gomes' Website www.williamgomes.org. This appears to be the reason it was blocked in Bangladesh.
The ruling government is well known for corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture and the growing number of disappearances worldwide. By blocking the web site of human rights ambassador William Gomes, the fascist government proves that they do not respect the freedom of expression.
I want to share with you that UNESCO recognizes that the Internet holds enormous potential for development. It provides an unprecedented volume of resources for information and opens up new opportunities for expression and participation.
I also want to inform you that the principle of freedom and expression must not only apply to the traditional forms of media but also to the Internet and all types of emerging media platforms which will definitely contribute to development, democracy and dialogue.
I strongly believe that the website of William Gomes www.williamgomes.org is an emerging media platform that has definitely contributed to development, democracy and dialogue.
I want to remind you that all human rights are interdependent and interrelated. The Bangladesh government has denied the rights of the people’s freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek information, freedom of assembly, and association among others by blocking the website of Mr. Gomes; it must be protected in online.
I am drawing the issue to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression and other relevant authorities of the US government and different foreign ministers of European countries.
I will urge the Bangladesh government to promote strong protection for the freedom of expression online in accordance with international human rights law.
Your government should preserve and promote diversity on the Internet, both cultural and linguistic, and to promote local culture, regardless of language or script.
The Bangladesh government should encourage the endless effort taken by William Gomes and promote the respect for human rights online. Such efforts can address the impact of human rights and action taken by William Gomes could encourage the respect for human rights within the country and world wide
I believe that the responsibility of the Bangladesh government is to uphold human rights and the rule of law on the Internet, telecommunication policy and regulation.
The Internet has expanded the reach of freedom of expression for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Sadly, the Bangladesh government has done a heinous act by blocking the Website of Human rights activist William Gomes.
I am writing to you to share this serious piece of information, regarding human rights violations with your Prime minister.
We want to warn the government of Bangladesh that the attack on the freedom of expression by imposing the block on the Website of the human rights ambassador will not give the government any benefit.
I am asking Bangladesh government to lift the block on the Website of Mr. William Gomes, as soon as possible and demand an unconditional apology from the Bangladesh government regarding the block from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Thank you for your consideration,
Salem, Oregon USA