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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Human Rights
Egypt: Transition to Democracy May Face Constitutional Obstacles
February 4th, 2011 by Alec
As the U.S.  seeks to encourage Hosni Mubarak’s possible resignation, several commentators have pointed out that the current Egyptian constitution could present some obstacles to an immediate resignation.  Hossam Bahgat and Soha Abdelaty of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, state that under current law, if Mubarak were to resign, the speaker of parliament, Fathi Surur (not the new Vice President Omar Suleiman), would assume the presidency as an interim president.  They argue that Surer is simply a regime stalwart who has used his legal expertise to enact abusive laws designed to keep the regime in power and that his assumption of the presidency, even in an interim context, would be problematic. Suleiman would be a lesser evil even though they regard him little more than “Mubarak II.” However, this would require a special presidential decree that can only be issued by Mubarak himself.  They point out that he has already done so twice, in 2004 and 2009, when he was hospitalized.
Such a decree would allow Mubarak to officially stay in office as an “honorary president”  while Suleiman would be able to assume powers to lead a provisional authority.  Amr Hamzawy, an Egyptian political scientist says such a deal would be accepted by pro-democracy protesters as a compromise as long as “safeguards” were put in place to end the state of emergency that has existed since 1981.  Bahgat and Abdelaty agree that the lifting of the emergency law is essential and would require another presidential decree from Mubarak.  Hamzawy argues that the transition needs to begin immediately.
Nathan Brown, writing for Foreign Policyargues for suspending the constitution entirely which would necessitate negotiations between the regime and the opposition outside the existing rules.  Such negotiations would be difficult and confusing and require much more from the opposition that it has offered up.  However Brown says that this option is the only one that offers the possibility of real political change: “It may be the best outcome and it is what the opposition is effectively demanding.”
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Reform | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Egypt on the Brink”
February 4th, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in partnership with the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) hosted a discussion on the rapidly evolving crisis in Egypt. Michele Dunne, Senior Associate in the Middle East Program at Carnegie Endowment moderated the event and introduced the panelists: Amr Hamzawy, Research Director and Senior Associate of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut who joined the panelists from Midan Tahrir in Cairo; Bahey al-Din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; and Neil Hicks, advisor to Human Rights First.
To read full notes, continue below or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections, Event Notes, Events, Foreign Aid, Human Rights, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, POMED, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Egypt: Al-Azhar Spokesman Resigns, Joins Protesters
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, Egypt’s Al-Azhar spokesman Mohmaed Refaa al-Tahtawy resigned from his post in objection to the current government attacks on protesters stating that Islam does not accept injustice. He has joined protesters calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and has called for the arrest and trial for those who paid thugs to attack protesters on Wednesday night where a reported 35 people have died and over 1000 were injured. Tahtawy also called for a civil state where people get a real chance to participate and choose their representatives.
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Human Rights, Protests | Comment »
Sudan: Journalists Arrested in Crackdown on Opposition Protests
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Egypt is not the only country that is witnessing a crackdown on media.  Reporters from opposition newspapers in Sudan were arrested late Wednesday night for covering a meeting of opposition activists.  Sudan has seen protests over the past week inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt.  They have been much smaller in number but widespread.  Activists have been arrested and beaten.  Twelve journalists in total are reportedly being held by Sudanese authorities.  One student protester has died since the protests began.
Posted in Human Rights, Journalism, Protests, Sudan | Comment »
Clinton Condemns Attacks on Journalists, Calls for Negotiations On Transition
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned attacks on journalists, protesters, and human rights activists stating, “It is in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to universal values. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian government, including the army, to protect those threatened and hold accountable those responsible for these attacks.” She also echoed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman’s call for free and fair presidential elections and urged “the government and a broad and credible representation of Egypt’s opposition, civil society and political factions to begin, immediately, serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections, Freedom, Human Rights, Journalism, Protests, Reform | Comment »
Egypt: Journalist Dragged Through The Streets of Cairo
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Graeme Wood, a contributing editor to the Atlantic, was accused by plain clothes armed Mubarak loyalists of being an Iranian spy and dragged through the streets of Cairo and detained at a government building where he was questioned.  Wood says that the regime’s public blaming of “foreign elements” has created the dangerous and violent situation on the ground for journalists in Egypt.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Journalism, Protests | Comment »
Egypt: Human Rights Activists Arrested
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
On Thursday, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Egyptian Association for the Advancement of Community Participation announced their concern for the lives and safety of activists who were arrested today including: Ahmed Seif al-Islam Hamad, the director of the Hisham Mubarak Center for Law; Khaled Ali, director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights; Said Hadad, researcher at Amnesty International; Daniel Williams, an American researcher at Human Rights Watch; Mohsen Bashir and Mustafa Hassan, Egyptian lawyers; and Nadine Abu Shadi, an Egyptian human rights activist. Military police raided these centers and arrested individuals, while thugs surrounded the buildings. ANHRI and the Egyptian Association have condemned the arrests and called (Arabic) for their release.
POMED’S contacts on the ground have reported to us that the following human rights activists have also been arrested today while leaving Mohamed ElBaradei​’s home: Amr Salah, Shady El-Ghazaly, Naser Abdelhameed, Mohamed Arafat, Tarek El-Kholy, Amr Ezz, Ahmed Douma and Mostafa Shawky. Other activists who were arrested while entering Cairo include Mostafa Zaki and Yahia Elhouseiny​.
Update: Human Rights First issued a statement calling on the Obama administration to push for the release of detained journalists and human rights activists and press Egyptian authorities to hold accountable those who are using violence to stem news coverage and disrupting  peaceful calls for change.
Update: Writing at The Cable, Josh Rogin states that the Obama administration has raised the need to release activists and journalists with the Egyptian government and that Defense Secretary Robert Gibbs and other administration officials have “impressed upon the Egyptian military the need to protect protesters and support peaceful government transition.” Human Rights Watch Washington Director Tom Malinowski also noted that the Mubarak regime is clearly responsible for the violence which has unfolded in the last 24 hours.
Posted in Egypt, Freedom, Human Rights, Protests | Comment »
Crowley Condemns Attacks on Demonstrators and Journalists
February 3rd, 2011 by Naureen
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley condemned attacks on demonstrators and journalists stating, “The attacks are not only dangerous to Egypt; they are a direct threat to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. The use of violence to intimidate the Egyptian people must stop. We strongly call for restraint.” He reiterated these sentiments on Twitter: “The perpetrators of today’s violence in Egypt must be held accountable and the government should tell its supporters to eschew violence.” On Thursday he also tweeted, “There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions.”
Posted in Egypt, Freedom, Human Rights, Journalism, Protests | Comment »
Update from Egypt: ABC News Reporter Threatened With Beheading
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Alarming news out of Egypt amidst the onslaught against journalists and reporters by pro-Mubarak loyalists:  ABC News is reporting that one of its journalists, Brian Hartman, was threatened with beheading.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Journalism, Protests | Comment »
Video: Anderson Cooper and Crew Attacked by Mubarak Loyalists
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Journalism, Protests, Uncategorized | Comment »
Update from Egypt: More Journalists and Human Rights Activists Arrested
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
The Washington Post’s Bureau Chief, Leila Fadel, and a photographer, Linda Davidson, have been arrested, as was Sonja Verma and Patick Martin of the Globe, and Bert Sunstrom of Swedish TV. Others are missing, including 3 from Al-Jazeera.
Among those arrested at the Human Rights Center was the legendary human rights leader Ahmed Saif al Islam, a Human Rights Watch researcher, in addition to Mohsen Geshir and Mona Elmasri.
Update: Nicholas Kristoff is tweeting from Egypt that there are reports that police are raiding hotels in Cairo looking for journalists.
Update 2: Leila Fadel and Linda Davidson have been released according to The Washington Post.
Update 3: Lara Logan and her crew have been detained in Cairo.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Journalism, NGOs, Protests | Comment »
Egypt: Major Crackdown on Human Rights Activists and NGOs
February 3rd, 2011 by Alec
At 7:15 am EST (2:15 pm in Cairo) the Hisham Mubarak Law Center had its offices entered by military police; it is believed that the human rights lawyers and activists inside were arrested and taken away, but POMED does not know exactly where to.  The military police, in uniform, were accompanied by a large group of thugs in plainclothes who did not enter the building, but remained in the street outside.
Exactly the same thing happened at the Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights, headed by Khaled Ali.
And more recently we were told that the Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence had a group of military police and plainclothes thugs outside their building and were expecting them to enter at any moment.
All 3 groups are reputable human rights organizations.
Also, POMED has been unable to reach this morning quite a few of our contacts at other NGOs/ human rights organizations that we have been talking to every day, which makes us worry that their offices may have also been raided and that they may have been arrested.
Reports from people in Tahrir by phone in the past couple of hours:
The army has been neutral on last night’s massacre; Checkpoints have been set up on streets leading to Tahrir, turning away people trying to reach the square, and also especially confiscating food, water and medical supplies that are being brought to the square, to try to force out those currently in the square; we’re told these checkpoints are being run by a coalition of plainclothed supporters of the regime, Min of Interior officials, and the army.
Also, contacts in Tahrir have stressed to us that the protesters now in Tahrir (our contacts estimate at least 60,000 at the moment) are primarily NOT Muslim Brotherhood - the regime is trying to circulate this and apparently some international media have been repeating it.   We are told it is a diverse group of all kinds and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are a small minority of those present, maybe 10%.
Update:  Dan Williams, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, was arrested along with those at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, NGOs | Comment »
Samer Shehata Discusses Egyptian Unrest on Colbert Report
February 1st, 2011 by Kyle

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mubarak Mu Problems - Samer Shehata
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>Video Archive
Posted in Diplomacy, Egypt, Freedom, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Protests, US foreign policy | Comment »
US Expresses Concern for Denial of Human Rights in Iran
February 1st, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, State Department Spokesman Phillip J. Crowley released a statement expressing the United States’ concern for the denial of human rights in Iran, where judicial cases, trials, and sentences are proceeding without transparency and the due process enshrined in Iran’s constitution. Crowley urged the Iranian government to halt unlawful executions, like that of Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami, and to guarantee rights of its citizens in accordance with international obligations.
Posted in Human Rights, Iran | Comment »
POMED Notes: “The Breakdown of Autocracy in Tunisia”
January 31st, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, The Maghreb Center hosted a discussion at Georgetown University on the causes of the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and the role of the United States and France before, during, and after the revolution. Dr. Néjib Ayachi, founding President of the Maghreb Center and International Development Consultant at the World Bank, opened the discussion and introduced the panelists: Stephen King, Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Robert Prince, Lecturer in International Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and Rust M. Deming, former Ambassador to Tunisia from 2000 to 2003. The event was moderated by Ahmed El-Hamri, Economist at the World Bank and Associate at the Maghreb Center.
To read full notes continue below, or click here for pdf.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Event Notes, Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Islamist movements, Political Parties, Protests, Reform, Tunisia | Comment »
Tunisia: Leader of Formerly Banned Islamist Movement Returns
January 31st, 2011 by Alec
Rachid Ghannouchi​, leader of the Ennahda movement, previously banned under the Ben Ali regime for being Islamist, returned to Tunisia on Sunday from London.  He stated that his movement would help build Tunisian democracy but has ruled out running for elected office himself.  Ghannouchi also insisted that his portrayal in Western media as another “Khomeini” were untrue and that his movement was committed to protecting women’s rights.  Prior to his arrival on Sunday, women’s groups in Tunisia protested in the capital of Tunis saying they were worried about an Islamist revival in the country.  In an interview prior to his return, Ghannouchi said the revolt in Tunisia against Zine Ben Ali was a popular revolution and not an Islamist one.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam and Democracy, Political Islam, Political Parties, Reform, Tunisia | Comment »
Egypt: Protesters Killed in Alexandria
January 29th, 2011 by Naureen
Emergencies director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert writing on casualties in Alexandria stated, “I went to the morgue at the Alexandria General Hospital, where I saw 13 bodies of dead people - all men, young and old, but mostly young. Also visited the hospital’s emergency room and saw many people who had been shot and were waiting for treatment. Live bullets seem to have been used by police yesterday evening when protesters went to attack police stations, but also by security services against people even in their own homes. One man who told me that thugs (whom he referred to as “mukhabarat”, the security services) showed up at his home, accused him of throwing things at police from his windows, and shot him.” Bouckaert also spoke to an Egyptian lawyer who saw 20 bodies at another Alexandria morgue, raising the confirmed deaths in Alexandria to 33.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, Protests | Comment »
US Government Responses to Protests in Egypt
January 28th, 2011 by Naureen
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA), House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called on the Egyptian government to cease the use of violence against protesters. However, Kerry is alone in calling for free and fair elections this year. Schiff stated that while Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been a strong ally for the U.S., “that role does not excuse or justify his government turning the full might of his security apparatus on its own people.” Josh Rogin writing at a Foreign Policy blog, states that there seems to be a gap between the Obama administration and many on Capitol Hill about what America’s stance on Egypt should be as the crisis continues. The administration, he says, is caught between U.S. allegiance to Mubarak and its desire to not look soft on human rights. Rogin points, however, to calls from experts around Washington, like the bipartisan Working Group on Egypt, which has urged the administration to press for free elections since flawed parliamentary polls in November.
Update: Senator John McCain (R-AZ) also issued a statement expressing concern over violence in Egypt and called for the immediate release of Mohamed ElBaradei and other peaceful protesters. He also stated that he hopes “the current protests serve as wake-up call for the Egyptian government to undertake reforms” including “the repeal of the emergency law, restoring independent judicial supervision of elections, opening greater space for political parties to organize and compete peacefully for power, and permitting credible national and international monitors to be present in the upcoming presidential elections.” His recommendations echo those made by Obama and State Department officials in the period leading up to parliamentary elections.
Update: U.S. Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-WA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Jim McGovern (D-MA) issued a statement deploring the use of violence in Egypt and calling on the Egyptian government to reopen communication networks and implement democratic reforms
Update: U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a statement condemning the “deplorable violence unleashed against peaceful demonstrators,” and called for re-opening of social networks. He also stated that he “looks forward” to potentially examining US military assistance to Egypt.
Posted in Congress, Egypt, Elections, Human Rights, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
UN Rights Chief: More than 1000 Arrested in Egypt
January 28th, 2011 by Cole
United Nations Human Rights chief Navi Pillay said in a statement more than 1000 have been arrested over the past several days in Egypt.  Pillay calls for a lifting of the emergency law, a restoration of internet and social media access, and guarantees for the right of expression and assembly.
Posted in Egypt, Human Rights, United Nations | Comment »
Egypt: Mohamed ElBaradei Detained
January 28th, 2011 by Naureen
Reports have surfaced saying that Mohamed ElBaradei has been prevented by authorities from leaving a mosque after prayers this afternoon. He is apparently still being held as street protests continue to build. The International Crisis Group strongly condemned his detention.
Update: ElBaradei has been placed under house arrest, a high-level security source told CNN Friday.
Posted in Egypt, Freedom, Human Rights, Protests | Comment »
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Egypt: Transition to Democracy May Face Constitutional Obstacles
Egypt: View of Protesters From Above
Leahy Ready to Freeze Aid to Egypt, Graham and Granger Call for Caution
Egypt: Opposition to Announce a Negotiating Body
Egypt: Banner Hung From Apartment Building in Support of Protests
Egypt: Video of Protests in Alexandria
Egypt Update: Security Forces Raid Muslim Brotherhood Site Headquarters
U.S. in Talks With Egypt’s Government on Mubarak’s Departure
Egypt: Amr Moussa Joins Protests, Calls For Investigation Into Violence
Egypt: “Day of Departure” Protesters Pray in Tahrir Square
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