By Sarah Dee
February 14, 2013
The IntelHub recently reported about the violence that had broken out in Egypt between police and protesters at the end of January 2013. The fighting has since tapered off to some extent, but the death of a child that occurred February 3rd has the government apologizing most likely in hope of trying to keep the fragile peace.
The AP reported today that the twelve-year-old street vendor, Omar Salah, was shot and killed by armed forces during a skirmish and now the Egyptian government has issued a formal apology via their official Facebook page:
“The Armed Forces apologizes for the mistaken killing of the child and pledges to take all legal measures against the culprit,” military spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Ali said…(*)”
The apology comes amidst allegations of a cover-up from citizens who are at odds with the Egyptian government, though the government denies these claims and says the boy’s death was accidental, and happened when a soldier was inspecting his weapon. Allegations of torture and human rights violations also cloud the atmosphere of Egypt’s ruling class, with several suspicious deaths of activists occurring in recent weeks. (You can read more about this here). The boy’s funeral will take place tomorrow alongside a protest against the violence that keeps flaring up in the region.
Read more articles by this author HERE
Sarah Dee is a University of Texas graduate and animal lover who enjoys writing, reading, and living in the Lone Star State. She is also a guest co-host on Truth Exposed Radio Show and an investigative journalist for theintelhub.com a popular alternative news website.
Follow Sarah Dee on Twitter @Sarah_Bee86
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 14:11 EST
Egypt’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a new draft law regulating public demonstrations that was swiftly slammed by rights groups as restrictive.
The law, which needs the ratification of the upper house of parliament, was created “to ensure the peaceful nature of demonstrations,” Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki told reporters.
The law aims “to protect the right (to demonstrate) and prevents mixing peaceful protests, which the state vows to protect, and attacks on people and property as well as disrupting public order,” he said.
The text stipulates that organisers must inform authorities of plans to protest in advance and the interior ministry has the right to reject a demonstration.
Protests will be restricted to a specific location in each province to be decided by the governor, according to the official MENA news agency.
The law also prohibits the setting up of platforms for speakers and the use of tents during sit-ins, as well as the carrying of banners or the chanting of slogans deemed defamatory or insulting to religion or state institutions.
The draft law was criticised as restrictive by rights groups.
It “imposes restrictions on the right to demonstration” and “violates all principles of freedom of expression,” charged Ahmed Ezzat, who heads the legal unit at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
“The role of the interior ministry goes beyond securing the event to interference in the subject of the event and its organisation,” he said in a statement.
Egypt’s revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak two years ago was largely driven by demands to end the longtime dictator’s police state.
Activists have repeatedly called for a reform of the interior ministry but the draft law, if approved, is likely to spark further tensions between police and protesters.
Egypt has witnessed violence, insecurity and price hikes, fuelling political turmoil already plaguing the country.
Protests between police and protesters, who accuse Islamist President Mohamed Morsi of betraying the revolution that brought him to power, have often turned violent and sometimes deadly.
On Tuesday, protesters gathered near the city’s principal business district, Motijheel where they reportedly threw stones at police forces. In response, police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. According to reports, police have arrested dozens of protesters during the rally.
Reports say home-made bombs exploded in the same region, where dozens of people including protesters and security forces were injured.
Some protesters demanded President Morsi’s ouster as they clashed with police on the anniversary of Mubarak’s fall. Deepening economic woes and violence have marred Morsi’s short tenure.
“The people want to bring down the regime,” protesters chanted outside the presidential palace yesterday, where police used water hoses and tear gas to break up the small crowds, reports the Associated Press. Demonstrators were also present in other symbolic places across the city: outside the chief prosecutor’s office, where protesters called for justice for those who were killed by security forces during the 2011 uprisings to oust Mr. Mubarak; and in Tahrir Square, the main rallying point for Egyptians during the 18 days of protest that eventually led to Mubarak’s resignation after 30 years in power.
The rally was held as part of anti-regime rallies to mark the second anniversary of the popular uprising in the Persian Gulf state.
A similar protest was also held in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, where demonstrators called for political reforms.
Bahrainis have been holding protest rallies across the country for more than a week ahead of the anniversary.
On Tuesday, opposition groups, including al-Wefaq and the February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition, called for protests this week to mark the 2011 popular uprising against the rule of Al Khalifa dynasty.
The coalition has urged Bahrainis to go on strike and take to the streets on Thursday and march to the site of the iconic Pearl Square, the former epicenter of Bahrain’s revolution, on Friday.
But al-Wefaq has called for a major rally on Friday outside the capital, Manama.
Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reforms and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its crackdown on popular protests.
Bahrainis say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demands for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to rights violations are met.
February 11, 2013
Egypt’s security forces were on high alert Monday ahead of pro-democracy protests to mark the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a police official told AFP.
Authorities have boosted security around the presidential palace, the interior ministry and around Tahrir Square, as well as around key public installations, the official said.
Marches are due to set off at 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) from several locations in the capital towards Tahrir — the epicentre of protests that toppled Mubarak– and the presidential palace where violent, sometimes deadly, protests have been staged against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
February 11, 2013 – Updated 1055 PKT
SRINAGAR: A boy who was wounded after security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir opened fire at a protest over the execution of a separatist died of his injuries Monday, a hospital said.
Ubaid Mushtaq, who doctors say was 12 or 13 years old, died around 3:00am at Srinagar’s main hospital after suffering bullet wounds in the protest on Sunday at Watergam, a senior hospital official said on condition of anonymity.
Tens of thousands of Tunisians demonstrated Friday to mourn the death of secularist opposition politician Chokri Belaid and demand the removal of the US-backed Islamist government.
A one-day general strike called by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) shut factories, banks, offices, schools and shops in the capital and other cities, and state-owned Tunis Air cancelled all of its flights. Bus service continued to run, however.
It was the first general strike in Tunisia in 35 years.
Belaid, 48, a leading member of the left-liberal Democratic Patriots’ Movement, one of 12 parties that make up the Popular Front coalition, was shot and killed Wednesday as he left his home in the Jebel al-Jaloud district of Tunis and headed for work. He was gunned down by an assassin who fled on a motorcycle.
While no one has taken credit for the killing, Belaid’s widow accused the Ennahda party government of colluding with far-right Salafists to murder her husband. Belaid had sharply criticized Ennahda, an offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood, for allowing Salafists to attack cinemas, theaters, bars and secularist groups in recent months. He had made known that he was the target of repeated death threats and had requested police protection.
Over 50,000 people gathered near Belaid’s home on Friday and marched to the Jallaz cemetery, where he was buried. They shouted antigovernment and revolutionary slogans such as “The people want a new revolution,” and “The people want the downfall of the regime.”
Mourners also demanded “Bread, freedom and social justice,” one of the main slogans of the 2011 revolution. At the funeral, demonstrators called Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Ennahda, “a butcher and a murderer.”
Ominously, an Ennahda official appearing on Al Jazeera television blamed the violence on “foreign hands” and said, “There are foreign intelligence apparatuses operating in Tunisia.”
Two security helicopters hovered overhead and the regime mobilized the army, rather than the hated security police, to contain the huge march. However, police fired tear gas at protesters on the fringe of the march outside the cemetery, as well as at demonstrators who marched to the Interior Ministry. A ministry spokesperson said the police arrested 150 demonstrators in Tunis.
Police fired tear gas to disperse antigovernment protesters in the southern town of Gafsa, a center of the county’s critical potash mining industry and a stronghold of support for Belaid. In Sousse, protesters demanded the resignation of the provincial governor.
Some 10,000 marched in Sidi Bouzid, the southern town known as the birthplace of the Tunisian revolution. It was there in December of 2010 that Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in protest over the confiscation by police of his vegetable cart. Bouazizi’s death sparked an explosion of mass protests and strikes that could not be contained by the pro-regime UGTT and led to the flight of US–backed dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali the following month.
Just weeks later, revolution broke out in Egypt, leading to the downfall of US- and Israeli-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak. The current eruption in Tunisia, the most widespread since the events of late 2010 and early 2011, occurs just days before the second anniversary of Mubarak’s fall.
Belaid’s murder stunned the country and became the trigger for an explosion of pent-up social anger that had been building since shortly after Ennahda came to power, having polled a plurality of votes in October 2011 elections for a constituent assembly. The source of the anger was not only the government’s use of police repression and Salafist violence against its opponents. More fundamentally, it stemmed from the lack of any relief from the mass unemployment and grinding poverty that had sparked the working-class uprising that toppled Ben Ali just over two years ago.
The Islamist regime in Tunisia, like the Muslim Brotherhood Mursi regime in Egypt, is a bourgeois regime supported by Washington. The Ennahda government backed the US-NATO war for regime-change in Libya. It is currently negotiating the terms of a standby loan with the International Monetary Fund, which will include austerity measures directed against Tunisian workers.
Within hours of news of Belaid’s assassination on Wednesday, barricades went up in Tunis and crowds attacked Ennahda offices in at least 12 cities. On Thursday, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, secretary general of Ennahda, announced on nationwide television that he planned to dissolve his government and replace it with an unelected government of technocrats to rule until parliamentary elections, scheduled for June.
The announcement, intended to calm popular outrage, only fuelled it. Hundreds of youth stormed a police station in the center of Tunis, throwing furniture, files and equipment into the street. The police responded by firing tear gas.
In Gafsa, hundreds of stone-throwing demonstrators confronted riot police firing tear gas. The army was deployed to contain mass protests in Sidi Bouzid.
The crisis of the Tunisian regime was compounded late Thursday when Prime Minister Jebali’s call for a “nonpartisan” and technocratic government was repudiated by his own party. The Ennahda party issued a statement declaring that Tunisia needed a “political government” based on the results of the October 2011 elections.
The same day, four opposition groupings, Belaid’s own Popular Front bloc, the Call for Tunisia party (Nidaa Tounes), the Al Massar party and the Republican Party, announced that they were pulling out of the national constituent assembly and called for a general strike. The UGTT, fearing the mass protests might escalate into a new revolutionary upheaval, announced a one-day general strike for Friday in an attempt to contain the movement.
The Popular Front bloc is led by the Maoist Workers Party, headed by Hamma Hammami. Hammami and his party have long functioned to head off any independent political movement of the working class and keep Tunisian workers tied to liberal and secularist factions of the bourgeoisie. They are playing the same role in the current crisis.
One of the four bourgeois opposition parties to which the Popular Front is allied, Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia), is led by Béji Caid Essebsi, 86, a long-serving official under the dictatorial regimes of Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali.
On Friday, Prime Minister Jebali repeated his call for a new government in a somewhat altered form. He said he would not require the approval of the constituent assembly and was confident he would have the support of his party because he was not dissolving his government, but merely replacing all of its members. However, he indicated that if his plan were blocked, he would step down as prime minister.
According to human rights activists, women and children were captured on Saturday after anti-government demonstrations were held in two Saudi cities, Riyadh and Buraida, CNN reported on Sunday.
The women and children were calling on the authorities to free their relatives, who have been held for years without access to lawyers or a trial, the activists said.
Mohammed Al-Qahtani, a prominent Saudi rights activist, said the protesters are “relatives of political prisoners.”
“They are asking the authorities to either take these prisoners to court,” said Al-Qahtani, “or set them free.”
Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
In October 2012, Amnesty International called on the Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against pro-democracy protestors.
“The Saudi authorities must end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said on October 16.
“The right of people to peaceful protest must be respected and the security forces must refrain from detaining or using excessive force against people who exercise it,” he added.
There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province since February 2011, with protestors calling for political reform.
Anti-government protests have intensified since November 2011, when security forces opened fire on protestors in Qatif, killing five people and leaving scores more injured.
State terror is official Israeli policy. Community incursions, assaults, and other violent incidents occur daily. Palestinian suffering follows.
They have no rights. Peaceful demonstrators are attacked. In August 1967, Israel issued Military Order No. 101 (“Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions,” as later amended).
Public or private political gatherings, assemblies, processions, or vigils of more than 10 Palestinians without permission are prohibited. Any attempt to “influence public opinion . . . in a manner liable to harm public safety or public order” is considered lawless.
Publications “contain(ing) material with political significance” are banned. They include printed, photographed, recorded, filmed, online, or other materials.
Displaying national symbols is prohibited. Military commanders have full authority. They “may empower any soldier or police officer….to exercise his powers in accordance with this order.”
“(A)ny soldier shall have the authority to use the force necessary” for enforcement.
Violators face up to 10 years imprisonment, a heavy fine, or both. Palestinians have no legal right to demonstrate, express views freely, or engage in nonviolent peaceful protests.
Police state terror confronts those who try.
They prohibited Bil’in and Ni’lin demonstrations. With or without other orders, they apply throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They called peaceful gatherings illegal.
B’Tselem addressed the issue. Its new report is titled “Crowd Control: Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank.”
Background information was provided. Palestinians, supportive Israelis, and foreign activists regularly protest. They oppose Israel’s Annexation Wall and other occupation abuses.
Israel responds violently. Private Palestinian land becomes closed military areas. It’s declared off limits. Anyone entering is attacked.
According to B’Tselem, “Israeli security forces make extensive use of crowd control means, even when demonstrations have been restricted to a populated area and are not permitted to leave its boundaries.”
At times, lethal force is used. Young children are attacked like adults. Arrests follow. So do injuries and deaths. Palestinian lives, welfare and rights don’t matter.
“Crowd control weapons are supposed to be non-lethal,” says B’Tselem. Endangering human life is prohibited. Israel willfully uses dangerous terror weapons. Severe injuries, deaths, and property damage follow.
Tear gas is Israel’s main weapon of choice. It’s a chemical irritant. Grenades are used to disperse it. Eyes and respiratory systems are affected.
Several types are labeled “Made in USA.” A rubber tear gas grenade (called “400” or “skittering grenade”) can be hand thrown or fired from rifle launchers. They also fire 40mm aluminum canisters (called “gas rockets”).
Splitting tear gas grenades are used. Some are 40mm-caliber canisters. Several types of launchers fire them. They can be used one at a time or in multiples up to six in quick succession.
Security forces also use jeep-mounted systems. They enable salvos of grenades. They cover large areas.
Stun grenades are diversionary. Their explosions emit bright light and loud noise. Use is designed to cause panic. Doing so lets security forces overpower demonstrators more easily.
Two types of rubber-coated bullets are used. Core metal is either rubber or plastic coated. Launchers mounted on rifles fire them.
Israel’s Military Industries Ltd. manufactures them. Israel’s Orr Commission investigated excessive force in October 2000. It was the beginning of the second Intifada.
It largely blamed Israeli security forces. It said Israel should “act to erase the stain of discrimination against Arab citizens in all its various forms and expression.”
It prohibited rubber-coated bullets use inside Israel. Military commanders use them inside its borders and throughout the Territories with impunity.
It’s a popular weapon of choice. It’s powerful enough to cause serious injuries or death. Firing them at close range is especially harmful.
Skunk is a foul-smelling liquid. It’s sprayed from truck-mounted water cannons. The odor is offensive enough to get demonstrators to back off.
It doesn’t wash off easily. It stays on clothes for years. Experts disagree on whether Chemical Weapons Convention provisions imply prohibition. CWC bans toxic riot control agents in warfare.
Civilian riot control use raises disturbing questions. Toxicity isn’t limited to lethality. Skunk water is physiologically harmful. It enters homes and stays. Elderly and ill civilians are most vulnerable.
B’Tselem criticized Israel’s crowd control methods, saying:
First, the wording of the open-fire and safety regulations is ambiguous, and in some cases the regulations cannot be properly followed.
Second, when security forces in the field violate the regulations, even systematically, practically no action is taken to put an end to this wrongful conduct.
Investigations rarely address illegal actions. When conducted they’re whitewashed. Unaccountability is policy. B’Tselem’s report said the following:
Soldiers and border police “systematically violate standing orders.”
Tear gas grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and other weapons are fired “directly at demonstrators with the aim of hitting them.” Other times they’re used “carelessly.” Doing so contravenes regulations.
Security forces fire weapons “at a closer range than” permitted. Doing so makes them potentially lethal.
Young children are targeted. Passersby are indiscriminately hit. Everyone nearby is endangered.
Live fire is used. B’Tselem documented its use “in circumstances that were not life-threatening.”
Hardened assembly and free expression prohibitions follow crowd control measures. Demonstrators are arrested. Organizers are most vulnerable. Foreign nationals involved are deported. Israeli participants are treated harshly.
Disproportionate force is policy. So is unaccountability. Security forces operate with impunity. Nothing too harsh is off limits. Rules, regulations, and international laws are systematically violated.
Police states operate that way. Palestinians suffer most.
A Final Comment
On December 10, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined “Palestine to the ICC.” It did so on Human Rights Day.
It commemorates the day General Assembly members adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
World leaders pledged to “complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere.” Fulfillment never followed promise. PCHR launched its own campaign.
It “aims to encourage the relevant stakeholders, namely the State of Palestine, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the international community, to fulfill their responsibilities in ensuring justice and redress for Palestinian victims on violations of international law.”
Ten years after the ICC’s creation, PCHR “demand(s) accountability for the countless Palestinian victims who have been denied access to justice for so long.”
Rome Statute drafters recognized that “all people are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage.”
Rights this important are universal. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
Sixty-four years later, countless millions await justice, “simply because of the political status of the land into which they are born.”
Palestinian discrimination is longstanding. Their rights are systematically denied. Conditions worsen annually. Expanding settlements steal their land. Police state ruthlessness targets resisters.
Besieged Gazans are collectively punished. They’re isolated and “forced into de-development.” Relentless attacks target them. Civilians suffer most.
Crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide continue. International leaders turn a blind eye. Israeli criminals go unpunished.
PCHR wants them held accountable. The ICC is a permanent tribunal. It was established to prosecute individuals for crimes too important to ignore.
“Palestine to the ICC….aims to encourage the relevant actors to fulfill their responsibility in ensuring that Palestine gains access to the ICC.”
It should sign and ratify the Rome Treaty. It should “lodge a declaration with the Court’s Registrar under Article 11(2) and 12(3) of the Statute.”
Investigating Israeli crimes and accountability should follow. Justice has been denied far too long.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/
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