Bangladesh Bans YouTube

Bangladesh has blocked YouTube and some other file sharing websites after audio of a meeting between the Prime Minister and a large gathering of army senior officers was leaked and posted on YouTube. The AFP reports:

Bangladesh has blocked the video sharing website YouTube for hosting a recorded conversation between the newly elected prime minister and the country’s powerful army officers, officials said Sunday.

Internet users were unable to access the site after it hosted the audio tape, which appeared to show angry officers shouting at Sheikh Hasina over her handling of a bloody mutiny that has threatened Bangladesh’s recent return to democracy.

The violence in the capital Dhaka 10 days ago left at least 74 people dead including 56 army officers who were butchered and buried in shallow graves by mutinous border guards.

A senior government official told AFP the site has been blocked after it hosted “contents subversive to the state.”

“The government can block any site that contains anti-state or subversive contents, which may cause unrest. We took the measure temporarily. It will be lifted soon,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

I guess the army is embarrassed because the audio from the meeting showed the senior staff to be undisciplined and angry. On the audio, army officers can be heard shouting at the Prime Minister, demanding she answer their questions, and generally conducting themselves badly. The officers are especially angry because the government did not allow the army to launch an ill-advised assault on the BDR headquarters compound during the recent hostage crisis. This is not the image of the disciplined army that the top brass would like the Bangladeshi citizen to fear and respect.

Since the massacre at BDR headquarters that took the lives of over 70 people, majority of whom were army officers, there has been fear in Bangladesh of another army coup. The government and the media have been bending over backward to praise the army for its “restraint”. In other words, the army is being praised for doing what armies are supposed to do: maintain discipline and obey the civilian government. However, in Bangladesh, that is no small task – the army has a habit of taking over when it feels it necessary. The army has just recently returned to the barracks after ruling for 2 years. Democracy in Bangladesh is conducted at the mercy of the army.

Now, the leak of the audio tape threatens to test the army’s mercy. So, in true Third World fashion, they have decided to cut off YouTube to prevent the spread of this audio. Of course the audio has been out for a week now and many people have already downloaded it and listened to it. No matter. If you want to be feared in the Third World, you have to take action against the Internets.

So much for democracy in Bangladesh. They say the Pakistan army tolerates civilian governments only if they “play within the wickets”. It appears that the Bangladesh army also wants to umpire this game of cricket. Two months after the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh, the civilian government is playing nicely within the wickets.

For those of you who may be YouTube challenged at the moment, listen to the audio at Live Leak (until the Bangladesh government decides Live Leak is also “anti-state”). For those of you who do not understand Bengali, shouting sounds the same in any language. Listen below:

Link to part 1 of audio:

Link to part 2 of audio:

Link to part 3 of audio:

Update (March 8, 2009 2:18PM): Via BDNews24, a Bangladesh government official defends blocking of YouTube and eSnips:

Dhaka, Mar 08 (bdnews24.com)—A top regulatory official has defended blocking of Websites to Bangladeshi visitors in the national interest, saying it is permitted by law.

Popular video site YouTube and blog site esnips.com could not be accessed by visitors from Bangladesh territory in the last two days, leading to reports that the Websites might have been blocked by the authorities.

“Nothing has been done which is beyond the jurisdiction of the government,” BTRC chairman Zia Ahmed told bdnews24.com, when asked to confirm the reports.

An audio on the proceedings of the Mar 1 meeting between prime minister Sheikh Hasina and hundreds of army officers at the Dhaka cantonment in the wake of the Feb 25-26 BDR mutiny was posted on both the sites, and visitors passed on the links through emails.

Some newspapers also carried abridged versions of the texts of the audio, leaked apparently by rogue intelligent agents.

“The government can take any decision to stop any activity that threatens national unity and integrity,” said retired brigadier general Zia Ahmed.

Update (March 8, 2009 9:04PM): MediaFire.com also appears to be blocked in Bangladesh at the BTTB gateway (thanks Ehab for the hat tip). At this rate, the government will have to block all peer-to-peer activity as well, not to mention a growing list of web servers that are hosting the audio files. I’d recommend they spend their time finding out who recorded and leaked the audio from the meeting. I am guessing the suspect list is finite and is limited to all the army officers there, the Prime Minister, her military advisor, and one civilian minister who attended. Trying to stop the audio file from being distributed after it has already been out there for a week is foolish. The government’s censorship attempt is making more news than the original audio files did.

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42 Responses to Bangladesh Bans YouTube

  1. WOW…I really didn’t think it was that bad until I got to the middle of clip 2…and then the “meeting” denigrated into such verbal debauchery that I actually started to feel embarassed for THEM (the officers). I mean I understand that they were all very emotional and anxious because over a hundred of their collegues were being held hostage and most would be eventually murdered (including a relative of mine btw) but that still doesn’t excuse their shocking,grossly undisciplined conduct. They sounded more like men suffering from heroin withdrawl than the top brass of a nation’s military. Just imagine if these men DID get their way and was given the green light to not only launch their “rescue” operation in Dhaka but was given full control over the handling of the situation across the nation…we could very well have witnessed a civil war and a brutally repressinve military dictatorship. I never was a fan of either of the battling begums but I must say the madam Prime Minister handled herself very well in this insanely intense situation (a huge understatement given Bangladesh’s historic propensity for military-initiated political violence). Thank God that reason was able to ultimately triumph.

    • Mash says:

      I agree. If emotions were running this high, its probably best they weren’t allowed to launch a “rescue” operation.

  2. sharmin says:

    its wrong,
    why bangladesh bans youtube
    its a true
    its a right

  3. sharmin says:

    bangladesh cant bans youtube
    about this, becuse this true and right
    i agree to run this one contunue

  4. Ehab says:

    Sharmin has gone crazy with Anger, I can see :D

    Add MediaFire.com to the list :- ( Was about to download a few songs from there

    • Mash says:

      Ehab, I’ll add an update in the post for MediaFire.

      Is Live Leak still accessible from BD? I am guessing that is only a matter of time.

  5. Tonoy says:

    @Mash

    So now you want others to believe that the army is overriding Hasina and it is the Generals who blocked the Youtube?
    Please make up your mind on who you believe is in power in Bangladesh.
    Do you think it was the army Generals who made the decision not to strike back at the mutineers in Pilkhana? I thought you and other armchair security experts are all praise for Hasina for a making ‘good decision’.

    If you are going to be in denial, let me spell out why Youtube was blocked:

    Hasina and her stooges are in a complete damage control mode.
    Lt. Col Kamruzzaman’s testimony in these audios make it clear Hasina has made a very bad decision by not sending troops to rescue the trapped officers and AL does not want the public to know Hasina is not up to the job.

    Hasina can block Youtube and other sites but in the end it only hurts her more. She is interfering with the system that has her in power(i.e. democracy and freedom of speech)

    In any case, those who want to access these files, they can do so with ease from other sources.

    • Mash says:

      Tonoy, I have been following your comments with interest at Unheard Voices. I understand you are one of those who vehemently believe that the army should have charged in to rescue the hostages. Since you and I can’t go back and rerun those events, you can feel free to hold on to those beliefs. I do think however, this hostage rescue would have been a first of its kind, that is to say, a hostage rescue in a matter of hours against thousands of heavily armed soldiers hodling hundreds of hostages in a huge compound with multiple buildings, hiding places, etc. It would also have been the first of its kind to launch such a rescue attempt against a target with ZERO intelligence about the location of the captors or hostages. But, who knows, you may be right. Going in blind against such a target in a densely populated city might have been just what the doctor ordered.

      Now, about these tapes…

      You and I are in agreement that these tapes should not be blocked. However, we appear to be in disagreement on who these tapes hurt. Fair enough. The reader and the listener can be the judge.

  6. Ehab says:

    As I wrote in my post, I am very much in balance and would love to see the authorities coming up with more creative techniques of interception rather than using these medieval methods, that just fires back, as Mr. Tanoy here already mentioned.

  7. Ehab says:

    Live Leak is still very much live here. Although, I haven’t seen much buzz with this URL on facebook.

    These random facebook groups appear and in less than an hour – they have over a thousand members ! Facebook should be the first site they should’ve banned.

    • Mash says:

      I’m not big on censorship. How about they not ban anything :)

      Plus, if they ban Facebook, the teenage population in Bangladesh will start going through withdrawal and there will be riots :D

      • Mash says:

        Btw, Ehab, I just added threaded comments. To reply to a specific comment, just click on the “Reply” link at the top of the comment.

  8. What truly disturbs me is the rhetoric of some of these self-styled “patriotic” macho hawks* who wanted the army to “crush” the BDR nationwide just for good measure. Of course the actions of these murderous “mutineers” in question were absolutely inexcusable under any circumstances and they must be brought to justice, but how can they blame the entire BDR for the actions of a relatively small rogue faction of criminals? How can they so easily forget all of the immense sacrifices made by the men in this 200 year old institution? It was the Bengal Military Police who spearheaded the struggle against British colonialism in Bengal and as Mash previously mentioned, and it was the treacherous murders of EPR shaheeds at Pilkhana which parked the struggle for independence. Indeed it is their heroic descendants who put their lives on the line EVERYDAY protecting the frontiers of our young nation. To not pay any attention to the BDR soldiers’ very-legitimate grievances and to blindly call for the army to act on their thirst for revenge against their comrades in uniform is tantamount to advocating an internecine brother-on-brother bloodbath…doesn’t sound too patriotic to me.

    *this characterization is NOT directed towards anybody in this thread, or anybody in particular for that matter

  9. Tanoy says:

    Tonoy,

    I am sorry to say some Jerk army officers or supporters like you took a big opportunity make blanket comments about Govt.

    Is it because In last two years Your extremly corrupt army officers could not forget their Mocakery to checks and Blance and the people. Now War crime issue is come infront.

    So are you guys scared of?

    Too Much power made evry thing corrupt.

    what the hell Army is contributing in all those days Just enjoying the tax payer’s money.

    Don’t forget you are Public servent and act like that.

  10. Tanoy says:

    Ehab,

    You have mixed up my name with this guy Tonoy.

    He is not Tanoy . I am Tanoy :).

    I don’t want Readers of Dic strange love mixed me out this “TONOY”.

    One Pakistani guy has already Told Mash Bhai is Sajeeb wazed Joy….ROFL

  11. Rookie says:

    Man this must be the governments propaganda blog! lol.
    You are using the internet to praise the Government about their handling of the situation, without discussing the real point which is, it does not have the right to block Freedom to share information. Get your head out of your azzes, morons.

    • Mash says:

      Rookie, you might want to reread the post. Judging by your comment, it is clear that you either did not read it or failed to understand it.

  12. Rookie says:

    & Mash is no doubt JOY!

    ROFL

  13. Journey 2 infintive says:

    Rookie Can you tell more about the Government Propaganda little bit? Well if people are using Internet to support Govt. But Army is trying to shut down all the information channels to hide their obstinacy with PM.

    IF Mash is Joy, I can Say Rookie is Moti Mullah (Nizami).

  14. jaromil says:

    Their own intelligence failed themselves. How come they were not aware of such big conspiracy before hand? Can you beleive that??The army need to concentrate on their effort on why such thing even happened, since they were in command of these paramilitary forces.They should criticise themselves first for that and work how to amend the situation, so that nothing like that ever happened.

    What Hasina did the best she can given the options she had.Pilkhana is situated in one of the most crowded place in the city. Although may lives have been lost, but decision of not use any force save thousands, protected businesses, residential houses, innocent civilians.

    Ofcourse they can be angry, Sheikh Hasina listened to those angry, emotional voices, like she heard many others. Anyone can understand the emotions in the tape.Sheikh Hasina is their prime minister too. They can vent their frustration toward her.
    But the decision to block those purosefully for the sake of their image is really really foolish and totally unacceptable for a democratic country with elected parliament.

    No one should consider themselves belong to a special CLASS..where they are beyond to criticism or comments. Too many people have died in this world for these ideals.

    I hope Bangladesh Government should reverse their decision immediately.

  15. dudeDAC says:

    hmmm, was talking to someone abt the 3rd or 4th, who mentioned that they had read transcript or accounts of that meeting, didn’t mention where. i honestly just assumed that people had this out, what with so many video phones out these days.

    the second any audio or video goes up anywhere, someone somewhere would have downloaded or ripped it and would have had it up on their blog, and any number of sharing sites, inc. facebook and flickr (in case of video).

    this shows more a lack of understanding of current technology and social networking than politics imo.

    btw, there seems to be no end of army persons moving hither and yon in dhanmondi neighbourhoods.

    • Mash says:

      dude, these audio files have been downloaded and redownloaded multiple times. Now that the government has stepped in it with their foolish attempt at censorship, there is more interest in these files. Its a stupid move all around.

      Doesnt surprise me about seeing army in Dhanmondi. I am hearing similar reports from other locales. Good luck to the Bangladesh government trying to get the army back into the barracks. Using the army for domestic law enforcement never has a good outcome. Sometimes its worthwhile to learn lessons from history.

  16. raz says:

    It is really sad for all Bangladeshi. All from bangladesh can still browse Youtube. I have found a topic here about “How to browse Youtube from Bangladesh” Here it is :

    http://photoblooggy.blogspot.com/

  17. raz says:

    The direct link of the blog “How to browse Youtube from Bangladesh” is http://photoblooggy.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-to-browse-and-download-blocked.html

  18. Akkel Khan says:

    The important internet publication Joruri Khobor has honored you by using your link at the following article aforementioned forthwith hyperlinked below:

    http://jorurikhobor.blogspot.com/2009/03/bangladesh-bans-youtube-govt-to-remain.html

    You should visit the link, because your reading list is empty and we believe that lekha pora kore je, gari ghora chore she.

    • Mash says:

      Akkel, I initially thought about censoring your comment.

      But, then I changed my mind and decided to add you to my blogroll instead. Tomorrow, however, I may change my mind and decide to ban you. I am taking it day by day, while keeping a close eye on the subversive news you publish!

  19. ShadhinCheta says:

    Does anyone expects anything from Bangladesh?
    Why there is no inquiry commission for BDR’s dal vat taka scam.
    Why there is no audio tape of the BDR Dorbar where Hasina was due to be present? Many things are to be said. I dont support killing but when justice is delayed, Justice would have been denied for the BDR men.

  20. Mystic says:

    Well, to be honest on the point, Bangladesh needs some cool headed people now. None should be blamed now, time will say who got what? But first things first, we need to bring criminals to justice, and let go the debate….!!

  21. Doodle says:

    I just want a clarification here, according to the author it is the military which has forced the government to block YouTube, as they are ashamed of what happened in ShenaKunja?

    I believe at one point in that meeting, most of the army officers said they want to whole world to listen to the meeting. Therefore I will not be surprised if the military leaked the conversation in the first place. The best part was when PM asked the army chief how many intelligence agencies we have in Bangladesh.

    Killer!! :)

    • Mash says:

      Doodle/Rookie, it is hard to have a conversation if you keep changing your username. Anyway, I am pretty sure most people who have listened to the audio will come to the conclusion that it doesn’t show the Bangladesh army in a favorable light. After all, the kind of rowdiness found on the tape does not really encourage strong command authority. Any army that claims to be professional would frown upon that kind of behavior, and most would probably impose severe sanctions on those who broke discipline.

      I believe the foreign press is also looking at the audio as if it is damaging to the army. But the tension the tape exposes is a real problem for Bangladesh. Those cheerleading army subversion of civilian authority are a bunch of idiots, in my opinion.

      • Doodle says:

        I agree with you that, the military does sound rowdy and the response from them would scare a few. But I feel for them as many of them are like brothers to the ones who have fallen, it is an extremely tough life in the Bangladesh Army, many of these men shared rooms with the ones who have died, ran miles upon miles together to complete the course and pass Bangladesh Military Academy. Like I said, there is a bond among the officers almost like brothers. That is why they could not control the emotions + the fact that the government has been encouraging anti-army drive (as most of these corrupt politicians got a beating if not heart stopping time during the caretaker government from the army) in the parliament making the tension even more high.

        In any case who ever published it, I believe that most Bangladeshi’s also believe it puts our leadership’s ability to lead in question. If a Leader does not know how many intelligence agencies we have in this country, (THE MOST BASIC QUESTION) how can he/she make a sound judgment and not to mention defend it? Mash I would love to know your defense about this one. Would you not want your Leader to be fully AWARE of every single detail as possible before making a decision?

  22. dudeDAC says:

    maybe the gov. leaked the audio… seem sot make more sense than the army…

    • Mash says:

      dude, the commenter above disagrees with you :)

      The problem is there were only three civilians there (including the PM). It seems likely that it was either taped from the PA system or it was taped using cell phones. A friend who knows these things tells me the audio appears to have been taped directly off the PA system. That points, at least the initial leak, to army personnel. It could have been an organized leak or some lone mischief maker thinking he had a scoop. I guess we would need an investigation to find out. Given the finite number of people it could be, this should not be too hard. But, so far, I havent heard any public announcement of such an investigation. Hopefully, they are looking into it.

  23. Journey 2 infintive says:

    Akkel Khan Do you know how to read and write? Just shut up and go to some place where your type of people are going.

    • Mash says:

      J2I, Akkel Khan’s website, Joruri Khobor, is a satirical website. I think you are taking him too literally. After reading his website, I think you will want to apologize to him for your comment. Thanks :)

  24. Saiful Islam says:

    The BDR carnage was a systematic preplanned killing of the best collection of army officers who were national assets. Nothing can replace this damage. This has severely affected the morale of all members of the armed forces particularly the junior officers. They became so emotional that they only think of military action could have been the best option given the fact the rebels were too afraid to run away if army moved in. However, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh wisely opted for a peaceful solution rather than purely military action, fearing it could mess up the conflict into a full-blown bloodbath within the BDR compound. The decision was very critical, which is now proved to have been handled with remarkable political wisdom and foresight, resolve and equanimity. The army has also shown remarkable good sense, they remained absolutely steadfast to the unified command though there were many agitation and anger under the uncertainly of the situation and external provocation. While the officers were struggling to comfort each other from the grief, I find some strong media shows sympathy to the rebels and their colaborators. This kind of journalism adds more scars to our wounds and creates unrest in the society.

  25. dudeDAC says:

    journalism in bangladesh, let’s not even go there…

    but as for “full-blown bloodbath within the BDR compound”, i have some doubts, given that many of the mutineering bdr jawans had bolted by the time afternoon of the 26th rolled around (the time by when the APC’s and tanks rolled in). i am puzzled and shocked as to how thousands, according to locals in the immediate vicinity of the bdr compound, jawans managed to escape via boundary wall and thru the tannery back alleys! in one video there is one jawan handing his bicycle, HIS bicycle, over the wire topped wall to someone on the other-side. he then makes it over, and calm as a sunday english countryside afternoon, rides away!!! on his bicycle he brought over from the inside the compound! according to the local dailies, the flow of personnel “leaking” out of the compound was lie a river the morning of the 26th. many even took there families out, and came back into the compound. that was the health of the cordon, now there is a professional army and law enforcement at work right there.

  26. Kattja says:

    You people are incredible! You’re disappointed about the young traumatised officers conduct? I bet you’d be reacting in a cool manner if mutinious troops did the same to your family? When will you all get it through that the prime minister herself is involved. High ranking officials were involved from her party.These Mother Fu****s have been involved in corruption, smuggling and looting. A lot of them had to give up their ill gotten wealth to the anti corruption commission. So a lot them had an axe to grind! And let’s face it, we Bangalee’s do not believe in democracy! Hell, we don’t even know what it means! Every fu**in’ Tom Dick and Harry is corrupted! We believe in democracy so long it gets us to the positions of power! After that, democracy ceases to exist! That’s the sad truth. And now the govt’ is peddling the same old tired phoney war on terror script and allow Indian army to use Bangladeshi territory under the guise of some kind of task force! Members of Awami League are screaming to the world about how dangerous Islamic terrorism has become in Bangladesh inviting international sanction and possible intervention? Very sad situation indeed.

  27. Shahed says:

    part 3 does not work

  28. confusedandstunned says:

    Though you’re right to point out the tapes reflected some indiscipline on the part of army officers, I think the subsequent banning of You Tube reflects badly on the government which purports to be democratic. A democracy requires that all voices be heard and in the aftermath of her very questionable leadership during the BDR crisis the government should have just let the tapes speak for themselves. Let the men rant and vent, let her come out looking statesmanlike – but banning it reflected a strongly undemocratic streak. Politics as usual in BD.

  29. Taylor Swift is such a sweetheart. It’s terrible that she was overlooked at the awards show.

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