12 December 2011
Twelve hours into the deadly attack by Central Security Forces on peaceful protesters on 19 November, Major General Mohsen al-Fangary, member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), indirectly implicated Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the current state of unrest. The interview, which was conducted by telephone with Al-Hayat satellite channel, abruptly went from his meeting with families of the revolution martyrs and the wounded to the representatives of CSOs he says were present during the meeting. Besides the fact that such references to civil society was out of context, Fangary urged viewers to reflect on their understanding of the supposed role of civil society. He then blatantly accused civil society of working "for the interest of the people." Guilty as charged, Mr. Major General? The esteemed member of the ruling military council expressed his deep shock at the realization that the concept of civil society as understood by those constituting it, was that they were there to "support the citizen" even if it meant opposing the government. Apparently he was misled, up until that moment, to believe that civil society was the government's unfaltering wingman.
The affinity of officials to blame civil society for all things gone wrong is not new in either pre- or post-revolution Egypt, and for good reason. First, repressive regimes,...
27 November 2011
Statement no. 84 by the Supreme Council of Military Forces on 24 November announced the establishment of a military field hospital in Tahrir Square to provide medical assistance to protesters wounded as a result of state-induced violence. The step, which was both too late and unwelcomed by Tahrir protesters, came five days into the deadly attacks on protestors that left dozens killed and thousands wounded by central security and military forces.Since Saturday, 19 November, more than 12 makeshift hospitals have been established in the square and floods of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals have swarmed in to offer their services. The swiftness and efficiency with which the hospitals are established and managed bears little resemblance to the make-shift hospitals characteristic of the initial uprising in January. Nine months of experience that followed the beginning of the revolution has made hard-core emergency medics out of young doctors. Alongside the field stations of the Arab Medical Union's...
28 October 2011
On 31 October, a group of researchers, activists and civil society organizations will launch the Egyptian Debt Audit and Cancellation Campaign in coordination with international actions in Europe and Latin America. The main goal of the campaign is to audit and cancel Egypt's foreign debt that was accumulated under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Based on credit that was extended to a dictatorial regime lacking even minimal standards of accountability, transparency and public oversight, this debt is considered "odious".
Egypt's outstanding foreign debt hovers around $35 billion or 15 percent of the GDP. Some may contend that Egypt is not a heavily indebted country. Foreign debt stock (denominated in foreign currencies) is by no means huge as compared to countries with similar income. Foreign debt service has constantly decreased since the early 1990s. According to the Ministry of Finance, the ratio of foreign debt service (interest and installment payments) to exports was around 6 percent in July/August 2011, which is far from alarming.
But foreign debt is only one side of the story. If domestic debt is considered as well, then Egypt is a heavily indebted country. Domestic debt, which refers to credit denominated in Egyptian pounds, stands at a massive 68 percent of the total GDP. This ratio exceeds the "safe limit" set by the...
28 July 2011
Amr Gharbeia: I was kidnapped by unidentified people under the pretext I was a spy, and threatened with a knife as I was taken to different security agencies
On the evening of the 23rd of July, a group of people abducted Amr Gharbeia, Technology and Freedoms Program Officer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), against the backdrop of the bloody battle of Abbassiya which took place on the evening of the 23rd July. The abductors decided he was a member of the April 6th Movement as well as being a spy, and that they had to take him to the military police.
It all began when Amr and a number of his colleagues were participating in the march heading from Tahrir Square to the Military Council headquarters, which was intercepted violently in Abbassiya Square by people dressed in civilian clothing – most of them reckoned to be hired from outside the area. Security forces fired tear gas canisters, while the army maintained their negative neutrality, according to eyewitness reports.
The smear campaign against Amr reached its nadir in his abduction and subsequent journey, in which he was taken from the headquarters of the military police and military investigations, to the general intelligence agency, to the al-Amiriyah police station, and then to the al-Waely police station in Abbassiya, in a series of ironic...
26 June 2011
I wanted to write about Magid even before he became a star. At this moment I'll hardly be the first one to have written about him but at least now I can justify why I wanted to write about this young man from Alexandria other than simply having immense admiration and respect for his character.
I met Magid almost a year ago when we started working together through a civil society coalition, the Forum to Fight Stigma and Discrimination Against People Living with HIV/AIDS, of which our respective organizations are members. Magid is a 31 year old Egyptian man living with HIV. Now typically in most Arab countries that doesn't make for a star. People living with HIV/AIDS in Egypt have long been shun from society and harshly discriminated against. So bad was the stigma that never has anyone living with HIV been able to make a public appearance announcing their status. Which is precisely what makes Magid now a star.
Only a few weeks ago Magid stood up at a podium in front of a room packed with press and journalists and publicly spoke of the burden of carrying a virus not-as-deadly-as- the-world -originally-thought and begged the audience to take a moment to reflect on the myths and misconceptions that surround it. The press conference was organized by the Forum which brings together 14 different organizations that work on issues related to HIV/...
5 June 2011
EIPR senior researcher Sarah Carr reports from the Giza court.
Malek Adly, a lawyer with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, is waiting inside the secretariat of the South Giza Chief Prosecutor for a chance to see the Chief Prosecutor. He is to launch an inquiry into why last month a traffic policeman shot Tuk-Tuk driver Mahmoud Sobhy twice and why Sobhy was then himself taken from hospital to a police station cell and charged with assault.
Adly appeared about half an hour later. The Chief Prosecutor had not consented to see him in person and had sent him a message via an assistant: “We will look into the case if we see fit”.
The lawyers’ outdoor café next to the courthouse is filled with brightly colored plastic furniture, like Lego. Mahmoud Sobhy’s 4-year-old son, a tiny frail boy, disappears amongst the furniture, brandishing an LE 10 note in the air as he chases a waiter asking for orange juice in an inaudible voice. He is ignored until his mother, Samar Abul Magd, intercedes on his behalf twenty minutes later.
She continues describing how she heard about what had happened to Sobhy.
“I got a call from a friend of Mahmoud’s asking me where I was. I heard people in the background saying, ‘don’t tell his wife, don’t tell his wife’”, Abul Magd says.
On May 18 2011 Sobhy’s brother Hassan was...
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