Category Archives: The Egyptian coup

Egypt: consolidating repression under Sisi

Public criticism and peaceful opposition to the government remain effectively banned in Egypt, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017. Security forces routinely tortured detainees and forcibly disappeared hundreds of people during 2016.

Having jailed tens of thousands of political opponents since the military’s removal of former President Mohamed Morsy in 2013, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government in 2016 took unprecedented steps to criminalize human rights work and cripple independent civil society groups.

“President al-Sisi’s government is consolidating and escalating repression,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Absent strong responses from the international community, authorities will continue to squeeze the space for exercising basic freedoms into nothing.”

In late November, Egypt’s parliament approved a highly restrictive draft law on associations that, if signed by al-Sisi, would place the work and funding of independent groups under supervision of a committee including representatives of the Interior, Justice and Defense Ministries and the General Intelligence Service, Egypt’s top spy agency.In September, a Cairo criminal court approved a request from a panel of investigative judges to freeze the assets of three human rights groups and the personal assets of five people who founded or led such groups.

Authorities have banned at least 15 group directors, founders, or staff members from traveling outside Egypt, most of them in 2016, since the judges opened their investigation into the foreign funding of such groups. On December 7, one of the investigative judges ordered the arrest and interrogation of Azza Soliman, founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance. Soliman was released after paying bail, but it was the first time the judges had ordered the arrest of a human rights defender.

Activists fear the judges will eventually charge them with illegally receiving foreign funding, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.Officers of the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency routinely tortured and forcibly disappeared suspects with few consequences. Many of the victims were accused of sympathy with or membership in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Between August 2015 and August 2016, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an independent group, documented 912 victims of enforced disappearance by the police, 52 of whom had not reappeared by the time the group issued its report.

Between January and October 2016 alone, 433 detainees were able to register claims that police or prison officers mistreated or tortured them in custody, according to the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture. When these claims were reported in November, authorities froze the Nadeem Center’s assets and banned its co-founder, psychiatry professor and longtime anti-torture activist Aida Seif al-Dawla, from leaving the country.

Mohamed Morsi is dying of neglect in jail

The life of imprisoned former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is in danger because of his deteriorating health and lack of treatment. A week ago today, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud filed a complaint with the public prosecutor asking for an investigation into the medical negligence he is facing. He told them he experienced two diabetic comas this month and did not receive proper treatment in prison, and is demanding to be moved to a private hospital at his own expense. No one is listening

 

Germany once again profiting from creating divisions it pretends it wants to heal, this time in Egypt

Egyptians have become used to pictures of Sisi in the embrace of the Coptic Church ever since the June 30 2013 jamboree in Tahrir Square and the 3rd July coup it immediately led to. As the blood flowed, torture, political imprisonment, disappearances and outright extra-judicial killings mushroomed, the Coptic clergy stood firm behind the tyrant.

Many Copts have stood aghast not only at this, but over the fact that their clergy never demanded accountability from Sisi over the Supreme Military Council’s obvious direction of the massacre by the Egyptian army of demonstrating Christians at Maspero on October 9 2011. Furthermore no challenge has been forthcoming over the release from prison of ex-interior minister Habib over pretty overwhelming evidence that he was behind the 23 January 2011 Alexandria Church Bombings.

Merkel, a fervent supporter of the Egyptian junta, visiting Egypt to finalise a contract on behalf of Siemens for three power stations and for ThyssenKrupp for several 209/1400 attack submarines, makes a rhetorical demand it seems for Muslims in Egypt to ‘… support persecuted Christians’. More recent bombings in Coptic Churches in Alexandria and Tanta are blamed on ISIS, which fits in well with Sisi’s self-proclaimed mandate on the ‘war on terror’. Little evidence is provided for the accusation and little time is spent pondering on the simple fact that even a jaded Coptic population is not in a hurry to lay the blame at the door of their Muslim counterparts for the atrocities.

Now the Catholic Pope is visiting Sisi to stand shoulder to shoulder with a Coptic clergy largely believed by the Egyptian population to be a tacit collaborator with the bloody Egyptian régime in this game of charades. Meeting with al-Azhar is a meaningless gesture as this religious body has zero independence from the state, and currently zero credibility with Muslims on the ground. Is the Vatican being paid to visit Egypt and make these absurd gestures? Is this a reboot of its collaboration with the Germanic neoliberal hegemon, when it backed Franco Tujman’s ZNG neo-Ustashi blackshirts in their attacks on the Serbs living in Croatia in 1991, which started the Yugoslav Civil War? Is this Pope not aware that as yet Sisi has not properly accounted for the torture and summary execution of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni by his thugs? Of course he is.

 

The Clash – الإشتباك

The year is 2013, the army has just unseated Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and pro-army and pro-MB factions clash on the streets. A reporter and photographer are arrested and thrown into the back of a police van, which is the sole camera setting; soon, other demonstrators from both sides are chucked in – along with, in one particularly chaotic scene, a lenient cop. They are crowded in there for hours in the boiling heat with no water and a plastic bottle to pee in. Through the grille-meshed window they get glimpses of the turmoil on the city streets.

At first, it looks like a no-budget movie with about a dozen people shot in a single location, but the director, Mohamed Diab, stages some spectacular riot scenes outside, which are all the more staggering for intruding on this enclosed space so unexpectedly.

The movie stunningly replicates that sense of inside and outside that must be felt by witnesses to any historic moment: the private debate, the enclosed conflict, and the theatre of confrontation unfolding beyond. What a dynamic piece of cinema.

Copts aim their anger entirely at Minister of Interior

Coptic demonstrators cry out the name of Magdi Abd el-Ghaffar in anger outside the bombed churches.

Mina Thabet, a Coptic Egyptian and director for the minority and vulnerable groups programme at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), says …’We blame the security services. In the Tanta incident, the terrorist [as seen on camera] went through the front door of the church and moved all the way to the front without the security guards even stopping him’

Astonishingly there had been an earlier warning. A senior police official told Reuters that a bomb was discovered and disabled just outside the Tanta church about a week ago. “That should have been an alarm or a warning that this place is targeted,” said Amira Maher, who was waiting for her injured brother at a nearby hospital.

Both Thabet and Maher were part of groups of worshippers digging graves for the victims of the bombings in the basements of the devastated St George Church in Tanta and at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.

Dear Pope Francis: Don’t go to Egypt now

Rania al-Malky writes: ‘As I understand, Your Holiness plans to visit Egypt on 28-29 April. While as an Egyptian Muslim citizen, I would be honoured by your visit to my country, I beseech you to reconsider this trip.

My reasoning is clear and simple: apart from the palpable physical danger of being in Egypt at this volatile moment (note that Coptic Pope Tawadros was the target of Sunday’s Alexandria bombing as he was inside St Mark’s Cathedral when it happened), such a trip could only serve to legitimise a murderous administration that is complicit in the killing of tens of Christians and hundreds of Muslims.

Your Holiness is best advised not to associate with ruthless dictators like Sisi who will be the only one to gain from your visit at the expense of thousands of unjustly incarcerated Egyptians with no recourse to a fair trial and often with false charges levelled against them.’

Read full article here

Egypt: ‘war on terror’ keeps bringing on more and more terror

Twenty-six people have been killed and more than 70 others were injured during a bomb explosion inside the Church of Mar Girgis (St. George) in Tanta. The device was placed under the first row of pews inside the church. Meanwhile a second explosion occurred outside the Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria, where Coptic Pope Tawadros II was leading a Palm Sunday service.

DEASH/ISIS has supposedly claimed the attacks, but a rush to judgment on mere claims is unwise, given that terror attacks on churches in Egypt have in the past been linked with government figures seeking to garner additional support from the West.

Putting aside the widespread killing and torture of Egypt’s Muslim population, we should not forget that in October 2011, 27 Coptic protesters were crushed to death by Egyptian armoured personnel carriers guarding the state television building (Maspero). To this day, not a single army officer has been held accountable for that atrocity (as for any other).

The timing of the two recent Church attacks, immediately after Trump’s raid on Syria, appear to signal a deep anxiety on the part of the Egyptian junta to keep the US on side in its ‘war on terror’. The fact that Trump called Assad’s bluff is significant in the eyes of the Egyptian junta leader, because Sisi and Assad support each other and follow each other’s bloody progress closely.

Nevertheless, Sisi was unable to criticise his masters in Washington and Tel Aviv over the ill-treatment of his brother-in-arms in Damascus… in fact, no official statement was made at all – as if nothing had happened.