The Internet In the Arab World
A New Space of Repression?
No Rules, No Limits
United Arab Emirates:
Freedom of expression is missing despite a decision banning imprisonment for press crimes
Weekly update for the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information # 192
28 December 2007 - 3 January 2008
Aggression against detainees’ wives and children
During the march of “torture victims” on December 17, 2007, Ali Al Jasim, one of the participants in the march met his end as a result of the excessive use of force by the security forces. Upon the death of Al Jasim, protesters made a stance which was met by server violence of the security forces. Many were detained upon these events. The relatives and families of the detainees went in a sit-in on December 25, 2007demanding a permission to visit the detainees especially after the intended delay by the general attorney who is the authority to give such a permission. The women and children who participated in the sit-in were dealt with wildly by the security forces. The women and children were physically and verbally abused by the women security in the headquarters of the general prosecution who asked the intervention of the special forces. The special forces demanded the sit-in participants to leave but the latter refused to leave without getting a permission to visit their detained relatives. The police women forced protester women to leave. The human rights activist (Zainab Abdul Hady Al Khawja) was physically abused along with the Afaq network correspondent (Rabab Marhoon). Some women were taken to hospital as a result of maltreatment and physical abuse.
Also, Mr. Abdul Hady Al Khawaja, president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who was outside the building watching, was beaten. Journalist were prohibited from taking photos .
Feminist Petition Committee
For more details visit /bahrain
Tunisian government denies passport to CPJ representative
Tunisian authorities frequently deny passports to critical journalists and human rights activists in retaliation for their outspoken views. The Tunisian authorities denied a passport to Mr. Kamal Al Ebaidi for five months. Mr. Al Ebaidi is a freelance journalist and CPJ’s Middle East representative.
Previously, in 1996, the Tunisian authorities kept the passport of Mr. Al Ebaidi for six months without giving an explanation. During being in Cairo to attend a CPJ event in 2006, Mr. Ebaidi faced many verbal abuses on his telephone by Tunisian embassy assistants in Cairo.
The government has refused to give a passport to the independent journalist Slim Boukhdir, known for his criticism of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and members of the first family. Earlier this month Boukhdir was sentenced to one year in jail on trumped-up charges of allegedly verbally assaulting a public employee and violating public decency.
Terrorism combating law…and combating law terrorism!
The right to a fair trial is a fundamental human right even if the accusation is terrorism. Guarantees of a neutral tribunal is a preliminary condition of a fair trial. The public opinion and courts should refrain from having a ready-made sentence, especially when tackling a case of terrorism which strongly affects the society. But, this should not take us far from the fair trials. Many innocents were sentenced to death or sent for years behind the bars.
In Tunisia, human rights organizations tackled the sentence issued by Judge Mehrez Al Hammami, head of the first instance court, who finished the so called “Suleiman Case” by sentencing two suspects to death on December 30, 2007.
Human rights organizations in Tunisia commented on the hearing session held on December 29 as being marred by the defect in the right of defense and in the principles of fair trial. The suspects were continuously interrogated for eight hours without any break. Lawyer also were interrupted and their questions were not recorded. After this the session was adjourned for three hours. Then, the lawyers and suspects were so washed out that the lawyers requested one or two-day delay to save suitable circumstances for argumentation. The judge refused the request of the lawyers and insisted on continuing the session. The lawyers withdrew from the court in protest along with most suspects.
International Society for the Support of Political Prisoners
Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights
The committee to protect journalists
For more details visit /tunisia
Sentencing the Syrian political dissentient (Fa'eq Al Mir)
Syrian political dissentient Fa'eq Ali Asaad (Faeq Al Mir), member of the general secretariat of the People's Democratic Party, has been in detention since December 13, 2006, when state security officers arrested him at his home in the coastal city of Latakia. Al-Mir’s arrest followed expressing his condolences for the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, and George Hawi, two Lebanese political dissentients against the Syrian regime in Lebanon. After being detained for one and half years, Al-Mir was sentenced to three years in jail by the criminal court in Damascus on December 31, 2007. The sentence was amended to be one and half years.
Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria
Committees for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria
The Syrian organization for human rights (Sawsia)
Human Rights Association in Syria
Syrian observatory human rights
For more details visit /syria
Press work in Iraq is the most dangerous
The annual report of the Iraqi Society for the Defense of the Rights of Journalists in collaboration with the independent Iraqi media support program, tackled the violations against press and expression freedoms in Iraq for the year 2007. The report stated that press work is the most dangerous in Iraq. Despite wars and catastrophes all over the world, no journalist was targeted as in Iraq. This will create an unclear atmosphere for press work.
To read the whole report press the link: /iraq/aadjr/2007/pr1231.shtml
Iraqi Society for the Defense of the Rights of Journalists
For more details visit /iraq
2007 is the worst regarding violations of the POW’s rights, international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions
The year 2007 witnessed the wildest violations against POWs. Perhaps 2007 is the worst regarding violations of the POW’s rights, international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions, in an unprecedented international weakness. It also witnessed an multiplied increase in violent suppression against Palestinian detainees. More than 50 suppression operation were done by the Israeli forces using sticks, tear gas, rubber bullets and internationally prohibited "damdam" bullets. The wildest suppression operation took place on October 22, 2007 in Al Naqab jail. Prisoner Muhammad Al Ashqar died in this operation while more than 250 prisoners were injured.
Palestine Behind the Bars
For more details visit /palestine
The world day for closing the Guantanamo jail
The American Guantanamo jail located in an American military base in Cuba, became a symbol for torturing and violating the right to a fair trial. Friday, January 10, 2008 marks six years since the United States first sent detainees to Guantanamo. The Libyan league for human rights called for students and activists to organize protests, symposiums and other activities demanding the US government to close this jail. The league requested stopping working, even symbolically, in American enterprises in Libya as a Libyan call for closing this inhuman jail and freeing the detainees or setting them before fair trials. Also it called for making January 11 a world day for condemning torture, arbitrary detention and violating the right to fair trial in Guantanamo and all over the world. And, to make that day a national day for abandoning the political detention and for freeing the opinion detainees in Libya and everywhere.
The Libyan league for human rights
For more details visit /libya
The first judiciary sentence tackling freedom of expression on the internet
In a court ruling restoring hope in the hearts of all defenders of freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt and the world, the Administrative Judicial Court issued a sentence in Case No. 15575 / 61 , which was brought by Judge Abdul Fattah Murad calling for banning 49 websites on the Internet in Egypt.
The sentence made it equal to ban a website or a newspaper. Banning newspaper can only happen during emergency and war time. The court stated that freedom of expression it the stem of all freedoms and that the Egyptian constitution coincides with the international treaties for the same issue. The courts assured that if there is any defamation for some person, civilian or criminal lawsuits can be filed against the one who commits such defamation, but not to ban a website. Banning a website is an aggression against the citizens’ right to knowledge.
Violence among farmers in November
In the framework of economic converts in Egypt and the increasing poverty of farmers, Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights reported 16 violent events among farmers. The events resulted in 18 murders and 11 injuries, besides a case of suicide committed by a farmer in November. Most aggressive event took place in poor governorates in upper Egypt. On the top of aggression comes the cities Assiut and Sohag, then comes Qaliubiya governorate. Nine violence events took place in these three governorates resulting in 12 murders and 50 injuries. The new trend in Egyptian villages is the farmers' resorting to expressing their protest through, sit-in, demonstrations or hunger strike.
Hisham Mubarak Law Center
Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights
For more details visit /egypt
The right to self-determination
The Western Sahara was effectively annexed by Morocco after Spain withdrew from the zone it controlled (known as the Spanish Sahara) in 1976. Also, Mauritania withdrew from the remainder in 1979. A guerrilla war launched by the Polisario Front contesting Rabat's sovereignty was ended in 1991 after ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. Since then, a UN-organized referendum to determine the final status of this disputed region has been repeatedly postponed. Moroccan authorities always thwart human rights activities in this region alleging that many human rights organization there are illegal since they are calling for the independence of Western Sahara. Activists are always under police watch and they often face harassment. On December 14 the Moroccan police arrested (Daha Al Rahamony) and (Ibrahim Al Ansari), both are members in non governmental human rights organizations. They were beaten during being in custody by police officers. On December 16 they were released without being accused of any crime, but they were threatened by two statements upon which they were forced to sign without reading.
Human Rights Watch organization
For more details visit /morocco
An increase in the number of detainees without legal cause
Despite all effort of civil society organizations to free the detainees without legal cause and to deal with them according to law, the Yemeni authorities refused to respond and insisted on the unlawful practices against human rights activists. Moreover, the number of detainees is noticeably increasing. Random arresting campaigns are launched everywhere in Yemen. Many people were arrested after the so called “the war of Sa’ada” (a city in North Yemen) and after the ceremony of Al Ghadeer feast (a religious rite of the Zaidi sect in Yemen performed on the Hijri month of Dhul Hijja 18). On December 27,2007 seven underage youngsters were arrested in old Sanaa by security forces who alleged that these youngsters were having leaflets about Al Ghadeer feast and were launching fire games.
National Center for Human Rights and Democracy Development
For more details visit /yemen
The Arabic network for human rights information
Rejecting the lawsuit demanding websites banning in Egypt, and assuring the freedom in internet using
The Arabic Network welcomed the sentence of the administrative court on December 29, 2007 regarding the lawsuit brought by Judge Abdul Fattah Murad calling for banning the 51 websites on the Internet in Egypt. The court rejected the lawsuit, and emphasized the support for freedom of expression and not compromising the freedom of these websites as long as these sites do not harm the beliefs or public order. This historical sentence comes as the best conclusion to a year that witnessed a sharp retreat in the freedom of press and freedom of expression in Egypt. Such a retreat almost hit many defenders of the freedom of expression with despair and frustration.
Repression is not the best way to solve the problems of the people of Sinai
On December 31, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information demanded the immediate release of the writer and blogger Musaad Suleiman Hassan, whose alias is «Musaad Abu Fagr» the activist in the movement "Wedna Ne'eish" (i.e We Wanna Live). A movement that is interested in the concerns and problems of the people of Sinai. Abu Fagr was arrested at his home in the city of Ismailia on the morning of Wednesday December 26, 2007. He was sent to the Prosecution office, where it was decided to detain him for 15 days under custody.
For more details visit /press
anhri is a legal organization that defends the freedom of opinion and expression of the press and the right to exchange information.
Moreover, it works on collecting the publications of nearly 140 Arabic human rights organizations from 18 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, which are published in Arabic and presented in one website.
It also provides human rights Sources
in the Arab world for media workers, journalists, activists and the public in an attempt to increase the number of internet users and those interested in human rights issues in the Arab speaking world. Though one of many human rights groups serving the Middle East and North Africa, it is the only one in the Arab world devoted exclusively to protecting the freedom of expression across the region.
For more information, suggestions or membership in the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, please contact anhri at:
Address: 19-26 July st-Downtown - Cairo- 4th floor - suit 55
Phone Number: (00202) 27736177