- Freelance JournalistFreelance Journalist, 2007 - present
Career in journalism:
As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets. He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth.
He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.
In year 2010, he interviewed the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli and reported it in Asia news and subsequently It was quoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
He has widely raised voice for the freedom of expression and the protection of the journalists, writers and bloggers.
He is a regular blogger. He used to blog on his blog “William’s Desk”. He also blogs in Muktomona, Bdnews24blog, Mynews.in, while he continues his advocacy using micro blogging site Twitter. There is fan page in the social networking site face book for the writer with growing member more than 2000, which is an extensive tool for advocacy. He has been also using the You tube and Vimeo for more in-depth presentation of human rights violations for years. He had contributed a number of writings in recently closed site upiaisa.com . Many of his writing were republished in different newspapers including recently closed English daily – Bangladesh observer.
Human rights career:
William Nicholas Gomes founded an NGO, Christian Development Alternative (CDA) in 2007. The CDA is known for its accurate fact-finding and impartial reporting on human rights issues and using them effectively in the local and international media, for advocacy, often in partnership with various human rights groups. The CDA was registered as a society with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, under the Societies Registration Act 1860 on July 18, 2007 in Bangladesh. The organisation was quoted by different national and international institutions.
In National Level:
William raised his voice continuously on the issues of minority rights in Bangladesh. In year 2009, he was threatened by the home minister of Bangladesh during a meeting held at the official residence of the minister and it was reported in different news papers in Bangladesh for bring the issues of Christian minorities’ problems to the notice of the home minister Ms. Sahara Khatun, a lawyer by profession, and later on, it was brought to the notice of US State Department, US Congress, UN and other international organizations.
He made a documentary on the issues of the rights of the minority communities in Bangladesh. The documentary titled Mallaun Na Manush (Human or Non Muslim) was shown in an international conference in India. While in India the Bangladesh High Commission in India contacted William and accused him for exaggerating the situation of the religious minority communities in Bangladesh. Early in his career, he introduced himself as a filmmaker in 2007 with the short film titled Rohossoya (Mystery) regarding the conflicts and problems of marriages of persons from inter-religious backgrounds, Muslim and Christian in particular, in Bangladesh’s context. Two of his notable films are titled “Murder in the name of Allah” and Ojona Gontobbo (Unknown Destination) regarding the contemporary manipulation and discrimination of the religious minority communities in Bangladesh.
After showing the movie when William returned to Bangladesh from India he was called by several intelligence agencies of Bangladesh in their offices. The officials accused him of demolishing the image of the country by showing the documentary in India. They intelligence agencies also threatened him of dire consequences for continuing similar types of activities.
Due to his conversion to Christianity from Islam, he was under continuous threats from different social and religious groups. He made a General Diary with the relevant local police station but the police failed to do enough to protect him and his family.
He brought to the notice of the government regarding the inhuman situations of Bangladeshi prisoners in Indian prisons. The issue was raised before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which issued an order asking the ministries of home and foreign affairs for taking proper actions into the matter.
As extrajudicial killings were adopted officials way of ‘maintaining law and order’ by the State agents William documented many cases of extrajudicial murders, mostly by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a paramilitary force with blatant impunity by the Government. Out of many cases documented the case of the killing of a young man named Mohiuddin Arif on which the National Human Rights Commission asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to form a probe committee comprising three members with one member from the civil society. Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed a probe committee that prepared a probe report that the RAB was responsible for the murder of Mohiuddin Arif. However, the neither the government nor the NHRC did take any action regarding the probe committee’s findings.
He also questioned about the extra judicial killing Hafizur Rahaman Sahin, an activist of Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir – a student wing of Bangladesh Jamaa’t-e Islami, who was extra-judicially killed by the police in Chapai Nawabganj and he bring this fact to the national human rights commission and it was also addressed to the international community including the UN Secretary General Ban Kin Moon, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other members of US Congress to address the issues of extra-judicial killing of the political opponent.
He was threaten and followed by intelligence frequently as he was investigating the cases of extra judicial killings, custodial torture, disappearance and other human rights violations for Asian human rights commission. He was closely monitored by different intelligence agencies back in Bangladesh during the investigation.
Campaign for “Ban RAB”:
William became an active campaigner for demanding the disbandment of the Rapid Action Battalion for the latter’s involvement in Torture, extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances of persons and other forms of gross violations that have been continued unabatedly. He distributed posters, stickers and leaflets containing the demands of prosecution of the perpetrators among the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings, professionals, diplomats and ordinary citizens of the country. In his blogs, personal website and other virtual domains such as the Facebook and Twitter he campaigned for banning the RAB with the demands for justice to the victims.
These campaigns antagonized the paramilitary force and other agencies of the country against William and the likeminded human rights defenders and groups of the country. He came under constant surveillance by the intelligence agencies, including the intelligence wing of the RAB, as long as he stayed in Bangladesh.
Campaign for criminalizing “Torture”:
William was associated with the efforts local, regional and international human rights groups while campaigns for criminalize torture formally started. On 19 September 2010, he officially wrote to the National Human Rights Commission to give suggestion to the government to pass a pending Bill titled “Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Bill-2009″ which was tabled in the national parliament. On 23rd September 2010, the chairman of the NHRC asked the Law Commission of Bangladesh to recommend the Government to legislate the Bill, which was reported in the local news media. He has been investing his efforts constantly to criminalize “Torture” In Bangladesh.
Abolishment of death penalty:
William Nicholas Gomes is also campaigning for the abolishment of death penalty for years. He has written several articles on the issue of death penalty. He also open letter to President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil not to execute the convicts of the murder case of Rajiv Gandhi.
He campaigned for not executing Mohammad Afzal, also known as Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri who was convicted of conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court of India in 2004. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on 20 October 2006. Afzal was given a stay of execution and remained on death row. William campaigned that Guru should not be executed as ‘right to life’ is universally recognized as a non-derogable fundamental right of human beings.
He is looking forward on the issues how to bring effective changes in the law especially in the South Asia to abolish death penalty. He also criticized the executions of persons took place in 2011 in Saudi Arabia and China.
Bangladeshi prisoners in India prisons:
William raised his voice regarding the inhuman situations of the Bangladeshi citizens in Indian prisons regarding authentic information regarding languishing of Bangladeshi nationals in prisons even after they had passed the time of their respective imprisonments. In one case 700 Bangladeshi nationals were found in Indian prisons with visible negligence by the authorities of both countries while the ‘right to liberty’ of those jailed persons were continuously being denied that resulted unimaginable sufferings to their families. He wrote to the NHRC of Bangladesh regarding the matter, which ordered to home ministry and foreign ministry to take proper action for bringing back the Bangladeshi people.
On 7th March 2011, he also drew attention of Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission of India by writing letter regarding the matter. However, the Indian rights body has not responded to the issue till date.
War Criminals Trail:
From the beginning of the initiative of the government William Nicholas Gomes, stressed the importance of a free and fair trial in conformity with the international norms and standards regarding the crimes against humanity. He underlined the importance of formation of a Tribunal having capacity to maintain international standards. Recently, when British attorney Toby Cadman was denied by the Bangladeshi Authorities, he wrote to the Prime Minster of Bangladesh Seikh Hasian Wazed urging her to ensure credibility of the process of the trial by fulfilling the norms of fair trial.
William Nicholas Gomes raised his voice on the issues of Bangladesh in international platforms. He was interviewed by the RTHK of Hong Kong during his visit to the Special Administrative Region in 2010.
He also focused on the ongoing injustice and problems of the people of different territories by speaking out very loudly taking firm stand for the suppressed communities.
He joined the campaign for a free Tibet while he supported the Tibetan people who have been fighting for their self-determination.
He joined the campaign of NGO coalition concerning the rights of the people of Uganda, who have been struggling for their fundamental human rights in the country.
He also raised his voice along with other human rights organizations on “suspend the rights of membership of Libya at the UN Human Rights Council”.
He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
Since April 2011, William Nicholas Gomes is a member of International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL), an organization which aims to assist international rule of law specialists. INPROL was created by the US Institute of Peace (USIP) in consultation with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Center of Excellence for Stability Police.
Education and Training:
William Nicholas Gomes completed a diploma in human rights in 2008 from the Dhaka International University of Bangladesh where he has been currently studying law. He completed Higher Secondary Certificate in the year 2009 and Secondary School Certificate in year 2000.
He has attended different training courses, in year 2009 he has participated on a training organized by Asian Legal Resource Centre on “Food Security, Corruption and Democracy Focusing on Human Rights and Rule of Law in Bangladesh”. In year 2010, he has participated in a training organized by Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong on “Training programme on interviewing of victims of human rights abuses”. In the same year he has participated in a course “Training on Human rights and rule of law” in Bangladesh organized by Asian legal Resource Center.
William Nicholas Gomes married to Annie Jhumur Halder and the couple has two sons Felix Eugene Gomes and Lalon Mark Gomes.
- Dhaka international universitylaw, 2009