UAE Continues its Serious Violations Against the Freedom of Opinion and Expression due to Blocking “Watan” Website

Cairo September 24, 2012
ANHRI condemns the blocking of “Watan” Website since Monday September 17, 2012.
UAE authorities started to block the “Watan” website gradually, as at the beginning the website did not open from the first attempt, but you have try more than time until the page is opened. On Monday September 17 the website was totally blocked. The familiar blocking page did not appear to the user but another page saying this page is not existed and ask you to verify the proxy and other technical information, which the same method adopted by the UAE authorities to block “El-Hiwar forum”, as they denied blocking it at the beginning but later they confessed in the court.
The website mentioned the reason of the blocking on its page, one of the reasons was “following the crisis that is taking place in UAE, which represented in the arrests and raids campaign which included 61 UAE citizens who called for reformation in their country. Moreover, the administration refused the request of some UAE bodies of providing them with names of writers who writes using “nick names” due to fear of being arrested in UAE”.
The website was exposed to harassments and violations before it is being blocked. Its URL was stolen for more that two months before the administration succeeded to restore it. Furthermore, the UAE authorities practiced presser on the advertising agency “IKOO”, head office in Dubai, to terminate the advertising contract with “Watan” website in an attempt to harass it financially. Then the UAE authorities filed a complaint to FBI, saying that “Watan” website inciting on “Murdering” the rulers of UAE.
It is worthy to note that UAE is not the first country to block the website as the website was blocked in several arab countries. “Bin Ali’s” regime blocked it for long years before it is being reopened after the fallen of its regime. “Mubarak’s” regime also blocked it after one week of the Egyptian revolution and the blocking ended after the fall of the regime. The website is still blocked in Syria while Saudi-Arabia chose to block the website since its launch on 1996, while its partially blocked in Kuwait, Jordon and Bahrain.
It is worthy to note that “Watan” is a weekly and independent newspaper, published in “California” in USA since 1990. The website was established on the Internet on 1996.
ANHRI said that “the blocking of website deemed to be continuity to the serious back-drop in the freedoms. It is highly represented in arrests campaign that included 61 citizen for only expressing their opinion and calling for reformation in the country”.
ANHRI called the authorities to immediately unblock the website and respect the freedom of opinion and expression in the country”.