Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Microbus drivers launch strike after police kills co-worker

Mada Masr
Maadi microbus drivers launch strike after police fatally shoot colleague

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mohamed Hamama



Scores of microbus drivers began striking in Cairo’s Maadi district early Monday morning in protest over the fatal shooting of a fellow driver by police earlier in the day.

The strike left throngs of commuters stranded in several parts of Maadi, particularly Al-Arab and Street Seven neighborhoods.

A driver participating in the strike, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Mada Masr that the microbus driver was killed after a minor collision with a police vehicle under a bridge on the ring road in Maadi’s Saqr Qureish neighborhood. They quarreled, and then the officer took out his weapon and shot the microbus driver in the head, his colleague reported.

The Ministry of Interior presented a slightly different account of the event in a statement on Monday, asserting that a member of the Basateen Police Station, who had been called to resolve the quarrel, accidentally killed the driver. Upon arriving at the scene, he reportedly responded by "firing a warning shot in the air from the gun in his possession, which resulted in the accidental death of the driver."

Another striking driver, also speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the deceased driver as a 20-year-old from Beni Suef, known by the nickname “Gamal Julia.” The Ministry of Interior’s statement identified him as “Gamal,” with the initials “N.T.” Other striking drivers stated that their deceased colleague had been married for just under a month.

Despite the microbus strike, taxis and public buses continued to operate on Monday, prompting several drivers to form roadblocks to impede traffic. In some instances, striking drivers threatened other drivers who were not taking part in the collective action.

The fatality in Maadi is the latest in a string of similar incidents in which police have killed unarmed civilians in recent months.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo’s Darb al-Ahmar in February, following the fatal shooting of a civilian by a police officer, leading to clashes between angry residents and police forces in the heavily populated district.

In April, a tea vendor was shot and killed by a police officer outside Rehab City in New Cairo. The officer reportedly opened fire on the vendor following an argument over the price of a tea. Two passersby were reportedly also injured in the shooting, according to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

According to the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence of Violence and Torture’s July report, 40 people across the country have died as a result of police brutality this year.

In mid-August, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi introduced amendments to provisions of the police authority law, after Parliament approved the legislation earlier in the month. The amendments impose greater restrictions on the police's use of force and firearms in incidents which do not warrant such a response.

The amendments also mandated that police personnel should not be in constant possession of state-issued firearms, stipulating that they submit their weapons to storage facilities designated by their presiding officers at the conclusion of each shift, except in cases where a presiding officer or authority judges that it is necessary to maintain possession.

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that the Ministry of Interior had moved to keep more than 90 percent of low-ranking police officers from constantly possessing state-issued firearms. According to sources from the Interior Ministry, only a few exceptions have been made to the new regulation — for members actively serving police investigation units and to ensure the security of police directorates, departments and stations.


*Translated by Jano Charbel

Slaughtered & skinned, carcasses of 250 donkeys hazardously dumped without burial in Sohag

Mada Masr
250 skinned donkeys dumped without burial in Sohag

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Officials in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag are conducting investigations to identify those involved in dumping the carcasses of 250 skinned donkeys disposed of on a desert road near the town of Akhmim.

Local media outlets reported that investigations began on Monday, following the discovery of the donkeys the previous day. Graphic photos circulating on social media revealed how the animals were dumped in the open, after being slaughtered and skinned for their hides, which are increasingly being marketed as cattle leather and sold at marked-up prices in domestic markets.

The 250 carcasses were found in one concentrated area along a small desert road near the village of Kola without a safe or hygienic burial, in close proximity to agricultural and residential areas.

Sohag Governor Ayman Abdel Moneim has mobilized a team of veterinarians and environmental specialists from the governorate to safely dispose of the decomposing bodies at a safe distance away from any inhabited areas, reported the privately owned Youm7 news portal.  

The veterinarians noted that the donkeys had not been slaughtered for their meat, but had only been skinned for their hides, a recurring phenomenon in Egypt.

Less than one month ago, three men in Old Cairo were jailed after being apprehended in a tannery with the carcasses of four donkeys. Another three donkeys were found alive in the tannery.

The men reportedly confessed to selling the donkey hides for substantially marked-up prices at local leather shops and tanneries, which market them as being leather from cattle. Jailed pending investigations, they added that they were not slaughtering or selling the donkeys for their meat.

An unnamed veterinarian from the Ministry of Agriculture told local media outlets last month that the average price of an adult donkey may exceed LE200, yet some farmers and vendors of donkeys – who have traditionally supplied local zoos and circuses, to feed lions and tigers – are currently demanding nearly 10 times that price per animal.

He pointed out the sale of donkey hides is far more profitable than the sale of their meat, particularly amid market indicators of a growing overseas demand for donkey hides. Among the countries with the largest demand for donkey hides is China, where they are increasingly used to manufacture gelatin, glue and medicines.

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Outpouring of solidarity with civilian workers from Alexandria Shipyard on military trial

Mada Masr

August 2, 2016

Jano Charbel 



More than 500 individuals and civil society groups signed petitions in solidarity with 26 civilian workers from Alexandria Shipyard Company who are currently standing trial before a military court.

The case has been ongoing since June 18. The workers, half of whom are being tried in absentia, face charges of instigating strikes and obstructing operations at the company. They deny the charges, claiming they weren’t involved in any strike action but staged a sit-in that did not halt production.

Military prosecutors have charged the workers with violating Article 124 of Egypt’s Penal Code, which stipulates penalties of three months to one year imprisonment and/or fines of up to LE500 for civil servants who deliberately refrain from performing their duties at work.

A verdict in the ongoing case was due to be issued on August 2, but was postponed to August 16.

During the sit-in, staged on May 22 and 23, workers demanded the payment of the national minimum wage (LE1,200 per month), overdue profit-shares, annual Ramadan bonuses, health insurance coverage and the dismissal of the company’s chief administrator, as well as the re-operation of the shipyard’s stalled production lines.

Despite the non-violent nature of their sit-in, military police were deployed to the Shipyard Company, where security forces have prevented nearly 2,500 shipyard workers from entering the premises since May 24, bringing almost all production to a halt.

Military conscripts were deployed to temporarily replace some of the civilian workers at the company, according to lawyer Mohamed Awad, who added that the lockdown is still being enforced despite promises the company would be operational again by August 1.

The company’s nearly 2,500 excluded workers, who are not on trial, have been paid their basic wages, but not the bonuses that usually supplement their incomes, as they didn’t work during the 70-day lockdown, according to Awad. These wages amount to less than the minimum wage.

One online petition, signed by over 330 individuals, calls on Egyptian authorities to end the use of military trials to punish civilian workers for standing up for their rights. The petition adds that Alexandria Military Court should “immediately halt this illegal persecution.”

Another email-based petition, circulated by labor activists, was signed by over 200 people and endorsed by 13 political groups. 

The petition cites Article 204 of Egypt’s 2014 Constitution, which stipulates, “Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that constitute a direct assault on military institutions, the Armed Forces, its camps or any other body under its jurisdiction… including military factories.”

The 13 groups who signed the petition include: The Bread and Freedom Party, the Karama Party, the Strong Egypt Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the National Partnership Current, the Popular Current, the Liberties Committee of the Journalists Syndicate, the Revolutionary Socialists, Youth for Justice and Freedom, the April 6 Youth Movement’s Democratic Front, Toward a Just Labor Law campaign, Workers' Struggle Current, and the Independent General Union for Tourism Workers.

“Neither workers nor other civilians should stand trial before military courts, or any other form of exceptional courts,” the petition stated.

These petitions were preceded by a solidarity conference in Cairo on June 27, titled: Against Military Trials of Workers, which demanded that all charges be dropped and the case be referred to a civilian court.

Some parliamentarians also issued their own statements criticizing the trial, the latest in a number of military trials against civilian workers.

“Egypt is a state, not a military barracks,” Member of Parliament Haitham al-Hariry says, asserting that the trial “aims to intimidate and threaten workers,” and “Civilians should not stand trial before military courts, even if they are working under military administration.”

Officials from the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) have, however, issued statements supporting the military trial.

ETUF Vice President, Magdy al-Badawy told media outlets in late July that the trial of civilian workers before a military court is regular procedure. Badawy added that, since the company is administered by the Defense Ministry, its workers should be subject to the provisions of military laws.

Alexandria Shipyard Company was established as a state-owned enterprise in the 1960s, and has been owned and operated by Egypt’s Defense Ministry since 2007.

At least 18,000 civilians have stood trial before military tribunals since the popular uprising of January 25, 2011, according to rights activists.

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*Alexandria Shipyard workers to remain in jail until 18 September

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*Photo courtesy of ECESR.org

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Egypt - No Comment


No comment!




*Courtesy of Cartoonaday.com

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Post coup attempt, Erdoğan's purges are arbitrary & discriminatory

Turkey: Rights Protections Missing From Emergency Decree
Orders to Purge Civil Servants, Judges; Close Groups Down

July 26, 2016

2016-7-eca-turkey-broken-window

The first emergency decree under Turkey’s state of emergency is arbitrary, discriminatory, and unjustified as a response to the violent coup attempt or other public order concerns.

The July 23, 2016 decree orders the closure of thousands of private educational institutions, hospitals, and clinics, and associations allegedly linked to a movement inspired by Fethullah Gülen, a cleric the government blames for a violent coup attempt on July 15-16.

The decree allows the permanent discharge of judges, prosecutors, and civil servants without any investigation or possibility of legal challenge. The decree also extends police powers to detain some suspects for up to 30 days without being taken before a judge and seriously curtails detainees’ right to private communications with lawyers.

“The first state of emergency decree goes well beyond the legitimate aim of promoting accountability for the bloody July 15 coup attempt,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director at Human Rights Watch. “It is an unvarnished move for an arbitrary, mass, and permanent purge of the civil service, prosecutors, and judges, and to close down private institutions and associations without evidence, justification, or due process.”

The decree was published and became law – no. 667, published in the Official Gazette – on July 23. It is the first such decree by the Council of Ministers headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan under Turkey’s three-month state of emergency, which entered into force on July 21.

On July 22, the Turkish government notified the Council of Europe that it was also “derogating” from – that is, temporarily imposing extraordinary limitations on – the guarantees under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which it is a party, which the convention says a government can only do “in times of public emergency threatening the life of a nation.”

The decree identifies 35 private health clinics and hospitals; 1,043 private schools and student hostels; 1,229 foundations and associations; 15 private universities; and 19 trade unions, federations, and confederations for closure.

The decree states they are closed on the grounds that they “belong to, are connected or are in communication with the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ/Parallel State Structure), which has been identified as a threat to national security.”

As many as 60,000 civil servants – including judges, prosecutors, police, teachers, and bureaucrats – have already been suspended from their jobs, and this decree terminates their careers in public service without a disciplinary investigation.

The decree stipulates that the government can seize property owned by foundations, hospitals, and clinics. Even if institutions or groups are not named in the published lists, under article 2/3, they can still be closed down if they are “identified as being a threat to national security or are established as being members of terrorist organizations or linked to them or in contact with them.”

“The wording of the decree is vague and open-ended, permitting the firing of any public official conveniently alleged to be ‘in contact’ with members of ‘terrorist organizations’ but with no need for an investigation to offer any evidence in support of it,” Sinclair-Webb said. “The decree can be used to target any opponent – perceived or real – beyond those in the Gülen movement.”

Any judge or civil servant, including prosecutors, can also be removed from their jobs on the grounds of being deemed a threat to national security, with no possibility of challenging the decision, reinstatement, or future employment as public officials. In each case the measure to strip people of their position rests on an administrative decision without an investigation.

The decree increases the maximum period of police detention from four days for terrorism and organized crime to 30 days, which violates the European convention, not least as it increases the risk of torture and ill-treatment on top of the reports already documented by Amnesty International of abuses in detention since the failed coup.

The European Court of Human Rights had ruled in a 1996 case against Turkey that detention without being taken before a judge for 14 days, even in a state of emergency, violates its human rights obligations under the convention.

The court, acknowledging that Turkey then had a legitimate state of emergency and derogation, held that “it cannot accept that it is necessary to hold a suspect for 14 days without judicial intervention.” It noted that the period was “exceptionally long, and leaves detainees vulnerable to arbitrary detention and torture.” (Aksoy v. Turkey, Application No. 21987/93, judgment December 18, 1996 paras. 78, 86.)

The decree also stipulates that in cases relating to terrorism and organized crime, communications between a detainee in pretrial detention and their lawyer can be recorded, monitored, limited, or stopped at the request of a prosecutor if the authorities deem that there is a risk to security, or if such communications may be a means of passing on messages or instructions to “terrorist or other criminal organizations.”

Doing so violates the right to an effective defense, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities reserve the right to appoint another lawyer to represent the detainee. The decree also significantly curtails detainees’ rights to family visits and phone calls.

Another troubling provision says that “individuals who make decisions and perform their duty in the context of this decree bear no legal, administrative, financial or criminal responsibility for those duties performed.” That sends a clear signal to police officers and other officials that anything goes, Human Rights Watch said.

“The government should know that the introduction of 30-day police detention cannot be justified even under a state of emergency and that it increases the possibility of torture and ill-treatment of suspects,” Sinclair-Webb said. “That risk is compounded by the removal of private communications between a prisoner and their lawyer, which is also incompatible with the right to an effective defense.”


*Photo courtesy of Reuters