Friday, April 13, 2007

Torture, mobile phones and videotape

Here is the link to the first part of the documentary on torture(Arabic) that got al Jazeera journalist Houwaida Taha into trouble.

In ¨Behind the sun¨, the case of Imad al Kabir is among those discussed. The interesting thing about this particular documentary is that it´s focus is on the everyday man on the street, it might have been you or me if we were unlucky. And it shows as stated on this blog before that a culture of torture exists and that it is used routinely, probably every single day and in all sorts of cases.

Nasser Amin(Imad al Kabir´s lawyer), fellow laywer Ahmed Seif al Islam,Gamal Eid and Abelhalim Qandil are all participating. on the hole a very good documentary, i´m looking forward to the second part!

Thanks to Ensaa for providing this youtube material.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Amnesty International report on Egypt: Systematic abuses in the name of security

Amnesty International issued a report on Egypt today called, Systematic abuses in the name of security. The press release can be found here , and an article by the BBC on the report here.

The report covers arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture, unfair trials and highlights five cases of unlawful transfers to torture(rendition), among them the high profile case of Abu Omar who was rendered from Milano Italy, allegedly by the CIA, and the first rendition case from western Europe, Ahmed Agiza and Muhamed Az Zary, whom were taken from Sweden in December 2001, also the first case with diplomatic assurances , the deal struck by Swedish undersecretary of State Gun-Britt Andersson and Omar Soliman. This case has been used as a precedent for some governments in Europe and several cases with diplomatic assurances has followed, not only to Egypt. The Egyptian PM Ahmed Nazif admitted to 60-70 cases of rendition to Egypt in May 2005. Amnesty International demands that:

"The Egyptian authorities must come clean and disclose the number, names, nationality and current whereabouts of all terrorism suspects extradited, subjected to 'rendition' or otherwise transferred into their custody from abroad," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of AI's Middle East and North Africa Programme. “It must also lift the shroud of impunity that protects those who torture in the name of the state."

The report states that 18 000 prisoners are currently in administrative detention, without trial, some for years.

The report ends with six recommendations to the Egyptian government:

* repeal all emergency legislation that allows for human rights violations, particularly unfair trials before emergency and military courts, and cease such violations;

* ensure that the planned new anti-terrorism law complies fully with international human rights law and standards;

* condemn torture and other ill-treatment, ensure that all allegations of such abuses are promptly and independently investigated, and bring the perpetrators to justice;

* end incommunicado and secret detention;

* end administrative detention; and

* make public the names of all alleged terrorist suspects who have been unlawfully transferred to Egypt from US custody and other countries, and end all participation in unlawful transfers into and out of Egypt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Haj Abu Gamal had a farm

Amira al Husseini, Middle East editor at Global Voices have made a fantstic job in translating parts of blogposts on how the daily life on Haj Abu Gamal´s Esba(farm) looks like.

It´s like an Egyptian blog version of the british 80´s comedy show spitting image, all made by the brilliant anonymous blogger el Esba

Hilariously funny! Thanks to el Esba and to Amira!

I would also like to send my congrats to the Global Voices team, on the new web site that was launched yesterday. Looks great!

Holiday season over for this time

So the religious holiday season is over for this time. After almost two weeks with Moulid al Nabi(The Prophet´s birthday), Jewish passover, Christian easter and the ancient tradition spring festival of Sham an Nessim it´s back to business as usual here at Fustat.

In this time of peace and reflection i would like to extend my late congratulations to Muslims, Jews, and Christians(yes all Christians, Copts, other orthodox, Catholics and Protestants celebrated together this year) alike among my readers. Hope you all enjoyed the holidays with family and loved ones, with plenty of food, and had a wonderful day outside yesterday eating the fesikh.

Since this was one of the reasons given to speed up the process on the referendum of the major change of the 34 constitutional amendments, so that the people of Egypt, Muslims and Christians alike wouldn´t have their religious rights infringed by their democratic duties.... I extend my congratulations to the government who shows such great respect for religion. Any other government would have postponed the referendum for a week, but that would clearly have spoiled the joy of the holidays for the citizens of Egypt. One should never mix politics with religion was the clear message..