Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Egyptian Police-State to Deport Swedish Journalist & Blogger

Swedish journalist prevented from entering Egypt
The Associated Press
September 29, 2009
By Paul Schemm

CAIRO — A Swedish journalist and blogger specializing in Egyptian labor issues was stopped by security at Cairo airport early Tuesday and was ordered deported from the country, his girlfriend and the Swedish embassy said.

Per Bjorklund, 30, who spent the last year covering labor strikes in Egypt, was returning to Cairo with his girlfriend from their native Sweden via Prague, when he was detained.

Earlier in September, an American resident of Cairo who participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration with Bjorklund was also prevented from entering the country.

"They held his passport and they said I had to go on," Bjorklund's girlfriend Anna Sicking told The Associated Press. "They said something came up and they held him."

Egyptian blogger and journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy spoke to Bjorklund at about 4:30 a.m. while he was in detention shortly before his mobile phone went silent.

"He was told his name was on a computer and he was to be returned to Prague," he said.

Sicking waited six hours at the airport for Bjorklund until she was told he had been sent back to Prague.

The Swedish Embassy in Cairo told The Associated Press they were working on the case and trying to learn from the Egyptians why Bjorklund was being expelled.

"We haven't been able to get in touch with him," said Joakim Vaverka, embassy press counselor, adding that it was unclear whether he was still in Egypt. "If he hasn't left he will be asked to leave but we don't know if that decision has been executed yet."

A security official at the airport told AP that Bjorklund was detained by order of State Security, the nation's plainclothes security force, but was still in custody awaiting deportation.

The next flight from Cairo Airport to Prague is early Thursday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Sicking said the embassy told her that that Bjorklund had probably written something the government didn't like.

"He's Swedish, he writes in Swedish, there are 9 million people there, I don't think it's his writings that have got him in trouble," she said.

Bjorklund writes for Swedish publications on Egyptian labor issues, including a wave of strikes that has been taking place for the last two years. He also has a blog, "Egypt and beyond," in English.

He has been living in Egypt for the last three years. The last time he entered the country was in September 2008, also when returning from spending the summer in Sweden.

On Sept. 3, U.S. citizen Travis Randall was also stopped at Cairo airport and deported from the country.

Both Randall and Bjorklund participated in a small demonstration showing solidarity with Palestinians trapped in Gaza last February. After marching for a few hours, the demonstrators were briefly detained by police.

A German-Egyptian activist, Philip Rizk, who participated in the same demonstration was held for four days in solitary confinement, apparently due to the government sensitivity over any criticism of its Palestinian policy.

Police have detained hundreds of members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and a number of bloggers following their criticism of Egypt's involvement in the closure of the Gaza Strip, especially during the Israeli attacks there in late December and January.

On the Net:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sepultura - Territory

Brazilian metal masters at their peak in 1993.
Igor Cavalera - what a badass drummer!

Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist released after being tortured

BBC News
Iraq shoe thrower 'was tortured'
Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former US President George W Bush says he was tortured by senior government officials while in jail.

Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology - and said he would name the officials later.

Iraqi officials told the BBC his claims should be investigated.

His protest last December made him a hero for many Arabs. He was convicted of assaulting a foreign leader.

Initially, he was sentenced to three years in jail.

But he had the term reduced to 12 months on appeal and was released three months early for good behaviour.

'Insurgent revolutionary'

After his release on Tuesday he told journalists: "I am free again, but my homeland is still a prison."

Reuters news agency reported he was slurring his speech because of a missing tooth.

He went on to say he had suffered beatings, whippings, electric shocks and simulated drowning at the hands of officials and guards.

"At the time that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said on television that he could not sleep without being reassured on my fate... I was being tortured in the worst ways, beaten with electric cables and iron bars," he said.

He demanded an apology from Mr Maliki and said he would name the officials who tortured him in due course.

He also said he feared US intelligence services regarded him as an "insurgent revolutionary" and would "spare no effort" in a bid to kill him.

"I want to warn all my relatives and people close to me that these services will use all means to trap and try to kill and liquidate me either physically, socially or professionally," he said.

His allegations of abuse mirror claims made earlier by his family, who said he had been beaten, suffering a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

The Iraqi military earlier denied the allegations, but following Zaidi's news conference Sami Al Askari, an adviser to Mr Maliki, said his torture claims should be investigated.

Zaidi's family has been preparing to throw a party for him.

He has reportedly received offers of money, jobs and even marriage from across the Arab world.

His relatives say he was offered a golden horse by the Emir of Qatar.

UK Fascists Fail to Disrupt "Quds Day" March

The Times
Right-wing protesters fail to disrupt pro-Palestinian march
September 14, 2009

Fiona Hamilton, London Correspondent
Right-wing protesters failed in their attempts to disrupt a pro-Palestinian march in central London on Sunday.

The English Defence League, an anti-Islam fringe group, sought to confront an annual pro-Palestinian march through the city, but only mustered about 30 supporters.

Police kept the group away from hundreds demonstrating against Israel’s control of Jerusalem as part of the annual “al-Quds day” (Jerusalem day) march.

A handful of the right-wing activists marched through Piccadilly Circus in the centre of the city’s shopping district shouting “Muslim scum off our streets” before they were barricaded into a small area by police, while the pro-Palestinian supporters marched past.
Bemused tourists watched as the groups exchanged taunts. They were prevented from physical confrontation by large numbers of police.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said there were no arrests.

The presence of the right-wing activists marked the latest in a series of confrontations in London, Luton and Birmingham.

On Friday there were several arrests as the activists clashed with young Muslims and anti-fascist groups outside a mosque in Harrow, north London.

Another group, called Stop Islamification of Europe, had organised a protest against “violent extremism” outside the Harrow Central Mosque on the anniversary of September 11. However they were vastly outnumbered by up to 2,000 Muslim and anti-fascists, who gathered to “defend the mosque”.

Police used “kettling” tactics — keeping the protesters within a small area — to maintain control and were involved in skirmishes with youths, who threw fireworks and bottles at officers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

UK Right-wing groups plan to confront pro-Palestinian march
Right-wing groups plan to confront pro-Palestinian march in London
Sunday 13 September 2009
Police on alert ahead of Al-Quds Day rally after organisation tells its supporters to 'let them know they aren't welcome'
Jamie Doward

Hundreds of police will be monitoring Trafalgar Square today as extreme right-wing organisations and football-linked groups are expected to confront a coalition of Muslim groups holding a Palestine solidarity march in London.

Officers have been drafted in from forces outside the capital to prevent a repeat of bloody confrontations that led to scores of arrests in Luton and Birmingham at similar protests earlier in the year.

On Friday, 10 people were arrested when scuffles broke out after an organisation calling itself "Stop Islamification of Europe" clashed with members of anti-fascist groups outside a mosque in Harrow, north London. Today's Al-Quds Day march will see thousands of Muslims from scores of religious organisations and mosques take to the capital's streets "in support of the Palestinians and all oppressed peoples of the world".

A group calling itself Casuals United, which says it has more than 50 branches and 700 members grouped around football teams, is encouraging supporters to hold a counter-protest.

"This is the terrorist-supporting 'we are Hezbollah' mob. We need all our lads to turn out to let them know they aren't welcome here," the group says on its website.

Yesterday, senior police officers urged all sides to show restraint.

Recent months have seen a hardening in the stance of Casuals United, which initially allied itself to the English Defence League, said to be responsible for the Luton and Birmingham protests.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"For Just Wages, Independent Unions & Against the Persecution of Union Leaders"

On Thursday night, Sept. 10, the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo hosted a workers' conference dubbed "The Preparatory Committee for Egyptian Workers" with the slogan "For Just Wages, Independent Unions & Against the Persecution of Union Leaders"

Kamal Abu Eita, President of the General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Employees - Egypt's first independent trade union since 1957, spoke of the ongoing struggle with authorities for the recognition of their independent union and its organizational rights. Abu Eita denounced the intervention and harassment of the yellow (state-controlled) Egyptian Trade Union Federation, which he accurately described as being "a den of police informers and thugs." On Tuesday Abu Eita had stood interrogation before prosecutors in Giza based on a flimsy and trumped-up charge leveled by the yellow ETUF.

The RETA Union's Secretary General, Abdel Qader Nada, described the ETUF as "not a federation of trade unions, but rather the graveyard of Egyptian trade unions. Its president is the Chief Undertaker Hussein Megawer." Nada emphasized that the Egyptian State is failing to uphold its obligations under International Labor Convention # 87 (Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) to which it is a state party.

Ali Fattouh, a worker-activist at the Public Transport Authority (in Cairo & Giza) took to the podium and demanded the recalling of the PTA's six local union committees which he argued are unrepresentative, and called for the "establishment of an independent general union for Public Transport Authority workers, following the example of the General Union for Real Estate Tax Authority Employees."

Gamal Othman, a strike leader at the Tanta Flax & Oils Company, then took to the podium and announced the nationalization of this privatized Company. Othman and his fellow workers commemorated the 105th Day of their strike and agreed that "the company no longer belongs to the Saudi Investor Abdelellah Saleh El Kaaki, the company belongs to the workers." Kaaki's administration had sacked another three local union secretaries on Thursday; this brings the number of sacked union secretaries to five (from a total of seven.) These five union secretaries were fired for striking and "for inciting the workers."

Othman added that the workers "refuse to work under his administration" and that "we will operate this company when the time is right." Tens of Tanta Flax workers chanted their intentions to continue striking and protesting outside the Gharibya Governorate HQs, the Ministries of Labor and Investment, the People's Assembly (Parliament), and the Council of Ministers.

Further preparatory committees are to be held with the aim of coordinating workers' struggles and fighting for trade union rights and freedoms across Egypt. Participants in this committee are planning a demonstration outside the State Council Court in Giza on September 29 in demand of adequate pensions and insurance plans for Egypt's workers.

Remember the 11th of September (1973)

The US, and the world at large, are captivated with the terrorist crime that took place on September 11, 2001. Rightfully so for this was an inhuman crime which claimed the lives of some 3,000 souls; God only knows who perpetrated this crime - Al Qaeda, the "Hamburg Cell", the CIA, or all of the above?

Yet the US is so quick to forget the first September 11th terrorist operation, which was beyond a doubt, perpetrated by the CIA in Chile, during the year 1973.

The CIA orchestrated a military coup against Chile's democratically elected (Leftist) President Salvador Allende in light of his nationalizations of US-owned companies and the copper industry.

At least sixty lives were lost, including that of Allende, as a result of this military coup and the CIA had paved the way for the military-fascist dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) which would faithfully serve the regional interests of the US government and the interests of American capitalists.

Remember the victims of September 11, 2001
Remember the victims of September 11, 1973.


HRW - Egypt: Stop Killing Migrants in Sinai


Egypt: Stop Killing Migrants in Sinai

Israel Should Stop Returning Migrants to Egypt Without Allowing Asylum Claims

(New York, September 10, 2009) – Egyptian authorities should bring an immediate end to the unlawful killings of migrants and asylum seekers near Egypt’s Sinai border with Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. According to news reports, Egyptian border guards shot and killed four migrants on September 9, 2009, bringing to at least 12 the number killed since May as they tried to cross into Israel.

General Muhammad Shousha, the governor of North Sinai, was quoted after the recent killings justifying the policy of shooting at the migrants as “necessary.” The latest killings come just days before President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel are scheduled to hold high-level talks in Cairo on September 13.

“Egypt has every right to manage its borders, but using routine lethal force against unarmed migrants – and potential asylum seekers – would be a serious violation of the right to life,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These individuals appeared to post no threat to the lives of the border guards or anyone else. Attempted border crossings are not a capital offense.”

Human Rights Watch said that Israel’s policy of forcibly returning to Egypt some of those who do make it across, without considering any possible asylum claims, also violates international law.

Al Masry Al Youm, an independent Egyptian daily, on September 9 quoted Shousha as saying: “Of course it’s not a mistake that we shoot them – it’s necessary to shoot them. To deal with an infiltrator, he has to be fired at. If we say, ‘Stop where are you going?’ he’s not going to stop so we have to shoot him. The distance to the border is only a few meters so if the infiltrator does not realize that if he goes near the border he will be shot at, the situation will be chaotic.”

Human Rights Watch previously documented that, between July 2007 and October 2008, Egyptian border guards killed at least 33 migrants and wounded scores of others at or near the Sinai border with Israel.

Some wounded migrants manage to cross into Israel. Visitors who regularly visit Ketziot prison in Israel, where the migrants are taken, told Human Rights Watch that they typically see five or more migrants who have recently been treated at the Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva for gunshot wounds after crossing the border with Egypt. The consistency of injuries, as well as the reported deaths, indicate that Egyptian border guards frequently resort to lethal force in their efforts to prevent people from crossing the border.

Under international law, security officials acting in a law enforcement capacity may use lethal force only as a proportional and necessary response to a threat to life. There is no evidence that the Egyptian border guards used lethal force in order to protect their lives or the lives of anyone else. The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms provide that law enforcement officials “shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force” and may use force “only if other means remain ineffective.” When the use of force is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must “exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence.”

Human Rights Watch recognizes that the security situation in Sinai is complicated and that the government has legitimate security concerns. On August 3, smugglers shot an Egyptian border guard dead in an exchange of fire. However, these security concerns do not justify shooting unarmed migrants and refugees at all points along the 200-kilometer Sinai border.

Human Rights Watch also criticized Israel’s policy of forcibly returning to Egypt, in violation of international refugee law, some migrants who do make it across the border and are captured near the border by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), without granting them an opportunity to present asylum claims.

An Israeli reserve soldier, testifying before an Israeli court, said that on June 13, his unit apprehended near the border with Egypt a group of 10 migrants and asylum seekers who identified themselves as Eritrean. His deputy commander ordered them to be returned to Egypt “if there is no one from Darfur among them.”

“When the people understood we were about to return them to the Egyptian policemen who arrived at the place,” the soldier continued, “they started to cry and beg. We did not understand the language they spoke, but it was obvious they were afraid and it was terrible. We ignored their pleas and transferred them to the Egyptian policemen who gathered on the other side of the fence.”

Migrants and refugees who are forcibly returned to Egypt face arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials before military courts, and forcible deportation without the chance to make asylum claims.

Egyptian authorities are arresting an increasing number of refugees and migrants as they try to cross the border or when they are returned by Israel, and charging them with illegal entry. Egyptian security officers arrested 85 refugees and migrants between January and May, but the number jumped to 144 in June and 169 in July. The Egyptian authorities hold the refugees and migrants in detention centers in Aswan, New Valley, Red Sea, and North Sinai governorates and deny the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to them. They are subsequently tried before military courts, which do not meet international fair trial standards.

Under international human rights and refugee law, Israel and Egypt are obliged to assess the protection needs of the migrants and asylum seekers on their territory, including those apprehended by their security forces. Neither country should return anyone to a country where the person would face the risk of torture, persecution or other ill-treatment.

Egypt should also allow UNHCR access to all asylum seekers in custody, including those not yet registered with the agency, who claim a need for international protection. Under the terms of a 1954 memorandum of understanding, Egypt has devolved all responsibility for refugee status determination to the refugee agency. Under these circumstances, Egyptian officials need to ensure that UNHCR has access to all detained migrants to give them the opportunity to present asylum claims. Only after concluding that process could Egypt consider deporting those who fall outside the protection of international refugee and human rights law.

Eritreans, who form a large proportion of African migrants and refugees crossing the Sinai, are at particularly high risk if returned to Eritrea by Israel or Egypt. The UNHCR has recommended that host governments refrain from forcibly returning rejected asylum seekers to Eritrea because it is likely that all returned Eritreans will be subjected to detention and torture. Eritrea routinely imprisons individuals caught trying to flee the country and issues “shoot-to-kill” orders for anyone found crossing the border without permission.


To read the November 2008 Human Rights Watch report, “Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Asylum Seekers, and Refugees in Egypt and Israel,” please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Egypt, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

In Washington, DC, Heba Morayef (English, Arabic, French): +1-347-259-4194 (mobile)

In Washington, DC, Joe Stork (English): +1-202-612-4327; or +1-202-299-4925 (mobile)

In Jerusalem, Bill Van Esveld (English): +972-52-604-1120 (mobile)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Egypt Continues to Kill African Migrants Heading for Israel

Press Release

9 September 2009

Egypt: Four migrants killed - Authorities must reign in border guards

The Egyptian authorities must control their forces at the border with Israel and prevent them from killing migrants attempting to cross it, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The call follows the deadliest border incident this year, in which four men were shot dead by Egyptian security forces as they attempted to cross the border into Israel. Two others were also injured in the incident.

“Enough is enough. This incident is further proof, if any should be needed, that the Egyptian authorities have yet to direct their forces on how to avoid killing migrants trying to cross the border,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. “They must assert greater control over their forces at the border and take away their license to kill.”

So far this year, Egyptian security forces have killed at least 11 people trying to cross the border into Israel. At least 11 others have been wounded – some critically. Those include the victims of Tuesday’s incident.

Thousands of individuals, including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea as well as other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, try to cross from Egypt to Israel each year.

They run the risk of being shot dead by Egyptian border guards who still appear to lack adequate training for handling such situations and frequently resort to lethal force rather than other means of intervention, despite the spiraling number of victims. No investigation is known to have been held into any of the shootings and the names and nationalities of those killed are rarely disclosed. Some of the victims may not have been carrying identification papers.

Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to open an investigation into the killings of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers at the border, to clarify the specific circumstances in which security officers at the border are instructed that they may use firearms and to ensure that these comply with relevant international human rights standards.

At least 28 people, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans, were shot dead and scores injured and then arrested while trying to cross into Israel without official permission in 2008.

The use of lethal force, which began in mid 2007, may be as a result of Israel’s pressure on Egypt to reduce the flow of people crossing the border into its territory without authorization.

According to the UNHCR, some two to three million Sudanese nationals live in Egypt; most of them are migrants. However, they also include thousands of refugees who have fled persecution in Sudan.

While states have the right to exercise authority over their border and to regulate entry into their territory, any measures taken in this regard must not come in conflict with or violate internationally recognized human rights law and standards.

Public Document


For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

PSI Protests Against Interrogation of Free Union Leader


Proceedings against Mr Kamal Abu Eita, President of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union

07 September 2009

Dear Prime Minister,

Public Services International (PSI) wrote to you on 18 August 2009 concerning serious interference in the affairs of its affiliate the Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA). In particular we drew to your attention the pressure being exerted by Mr Hussein Megawer, President of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), on various officials in order to discredit and threaten the leadership of RETA.

We pointed to the fact that ETUF had filed a report with the Public Prosecutor against the President of RETA, Mr Kamal Abu Eita, falsely alleging that Mr Abu Eita’s election as President was irregular and that RETA is therefore an illegal entity.

PSI has learned with grave concern that proceedings against Mr Abu Eita will begin tomorrow, 08 September 2009. PSI condemns in the strongest terms this persecution and harassment of the leadership of RETA. PSI again urges your government to take the necessary steps to ensure that RETA is able to function as a free and independent trade union, including the dropping of all charges against Mr Abu Eita.

PSI is monitoring developments closely and will not hesitate to bring this matter to the attention of international partners, including the International Labour Organisation.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Waldorff
General Secretary

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Egyptian State Interrogates Free Trade Union Leader

Al-Masry Al-Youm
State harassment of union leader

Sept. 8, 2009

Head of Egypt’s only independent labor union questioned and released
Jano Charbel

Labor activist Kamal Abu Eita, head of Egypt’s only independent labor union, faces charges of disseminating false information and defaming the reputation of the country’s state-controlled union leaders.

Abu Eita who helped found the independent General Union of Real Estate Tax Authority Employees (RETA) earlier this year, was summoned for questioning Tuesday morning at the Omraneya Prosecutor’s Office in Giza. With an estimated 50 union members protesting outside, he was released after about three hours.

The charges against Abu Eita stem from accusations leveled by Farouq Shehata, head of the state-controlled General Union for Banking and Insurance Employees. Abu Eita’s union was essentially formed to compete with Shehata’s union after the latter refused to support a national strike by the tax collectors in 2007, and Abu Eita claims that 37,000 of the 42,000 tax collectors under the state-run union have already switched sides.

Defense Lawyer Khaled Ali stated that his client has not been charged with violation of any law, but, "may be recalled for further questioning following the hearing of Farouq Shehata's testimony before the prosecution."

Shehata has argued that Abu Eita, in his criticisms of the state-controlled trade union structures violate Article 73 of Trade Union Law 35/1976.

This article stipulates a punishment of "imprisonment for a period of no more than six months and/or a fine not exceeding LE 100 for each member of the union secretariat who willfully provides incorrect information relating to the statutes, financial regulations, registers, books, funds or accounts of their union organization."

Abu Eita told Al-Masry Al-Youm, "I am willing to spend six months in prison for the sake of our union's freedom; this is a small price to pay for our independence and democracy." He added jokingly, "What I really fear is the steep LE100 fine (less than $US 20.)"

Regarding the claims leveled against him, Abu Eita stated, "I have resigned from the official trade union organization, and we have since established our own independent unions. I have not disseminated any false information about the official union or about our independent union."

He went on to say, "I do not wish to tarnish Egypt’s image abroad, in fact we are attempting to improve its image abroad. Through our efforts we are proving to the whole world that Egypt is capable of genuine trade unionism. In this sense I am proud of improving Egypt’s image."

*Photo by Hossam El-Hamalawy

Female Sudanese journalist convicted of wearing trousers freed

Sudanese woman convicted of wearing trousers freed
The Associated Press
Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009


CAIRO — A woman journalist convicted of public indecency for wearing trousers outdoors was freed Tuesday, despite her own desire to serve a month in prison as protest against Sudan's draconian morality laws.

The judge who convicted Lubna Hussein had imposed a $200 fine as her sentence, avoiding the maximum sentence of 40 lashes in an apparent attempt to put an end to a case that had raised international criticism of Sudan.

But Hussein refused to pay the fine, which would have meant a month's imprisonment. She told The Associated Press that she was freed Tuesday after the fine was paid without her knowledge by the Journalist Union, which is headed by a member of the ruling party.

"I had no choice. All my friends knew I didn't want to pay the fine," Hussein said, speaking by phone from Khartoum. "I had chosen prison, and not to pay the fine in solidarity with hundreds of other women jailed" under this law.

Hussein said she suspects that the authorities don't want her to spend any time in the prison in Omdurman, on the outskirts of Khartoum, where she said at least 800 women are serving time, many of them convicted under the indecency law.

"I wanted to make reports from inside the prison. Maybe they were unnerved by my presence in prison," she said.

Fayez Selik, the editor in chief of the pro-south newspaper Ajras al-Hurriya, or Freedom Bells, said the government freed Hussein to end their "predicament."

Mohieddin Titawi, the head of the Journalist Union, said he paid the fine out of duty toward a member of the union.

"I didn't get permission from the government or from Lubna," he said from Khartoum. "I know my duty very well and I intervened to get a journalist out of prison."

Ever since her arrest in July, the 43-year-old Hussein has used her case to draw attention to Sudan's indecency law, which allows flogging as a punishment for any acts or clothing that is seen as offending morals. Human rights campaigners say the law is vague, that its enforcement is arbitrary and that southern Sudanese in the capital — who are mostly Christians — are often targeted.

Sudan's government implements a conservative version of Islamic law in the north, and "public order" police enforce the laws, banning alcohol, breaking up parties and scolding men and women who mingle in public. In mostly Muslim northern Sudan, many women wear traditional flowing robes that also cover their hair, but it is also not uncommon for women to wear trousers, even though conservatives consider it immodest.

Under the 2005 peace deal that ended a more than 20-year civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south, laws — including the indecency law — are supposed to be reviewed to respect human rights and freedom of expression.

Hussein was arrested in July with 12 other women in a public cafe in Khartoum and were charged with violating the indecency law for wearing trousers in public. Ten of them were flogged shortly afterward after they accepted summary trials — as many women do to avoid the social stigma of a public trial on morality charges.

Hussein, however, decided to take the case to court to show the injustice of the law and its effect on women. Her case drew heavy condemnations from international human rights groups.

A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office in Geneva denounced the Sudanese treatment of women for wearing trousers. Rupert Colville said the $200 fine imposed on Hussein violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"This is not my case alone. This is a case of all the Sudanese women and the society," Hussein said Tuesday when asked if she would appeal the court decision. She said she would consult with supporters before deciding if it is worth filing an appeal.

Hussein said in her one day in prison she met with many women jailed under the indecency law, including ones imprisoned for brewing alcohol — common among southern Sudanese. She said she met a university student from south Sudan who received 20 lashes for wearing trousers and is now serving a three-month jail sentence.

"Outside the prison walls, we (women) have no choice. Imagine how it is inside the prison," she said.

4 Hunger Striking Workers Forced to Resign, Call off Strike

Four hunger striking workers who had been sacked from the Indorama Shebin Textile Co. called off their week-long strike on Sunday, September 6th. Weeks earlier, the company's administration had sacked six workers, including the four who eventually went on hunger strike: Mohamed El Aasar, Abdel Aziz Behkatro, Ayman El Seesi, and Samir El Qazazz.

Five of the six sacked workers were forced into accepting dictated pension plans, while the remaining worker, Samir El Qazazz, has refused to do so.

Bekhatro said "we ended our strike on Sunday when a delegation from the (Ministry of) Manpower told us to accept the pensions that the company's administration was offering us - or nothing at all. This pension or severance pay, whatever you want to call it, is totally inadequate. But what could I do? I had to pay an overdue bank loan worth LE 20,000 or else I would end up in prison."

Bekhatro had been employed at the Shebin El Kom Textile Company for 24 years; he was forced to accept a lump-sum pension of only LE 29,000 (around $US 3,600.) His fellow sacked workers were given even less.

Shame on the Ministry of Manpower & shame on the Administration of the Indorama Co.


فض الإضراب - E-Socialists

LA TIMES - EGYPT: Textile workers go on hunger strike

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tanta Flax Workers' Strike Enters its 98th Day

An ongoing hunger strike launched by four sacked workers from the Indorama Shebin Textile Company has entered its seventh day; while the ongoing strike by the 1,000 Tanta Flax Workers has entered its 98th Day.

On Friday evening, Sept. 04, hundreds of striking Tanta Flax workers hosted a Ramadan iftar within their company in the Town of Mit Hebeish, where other workers, unionists, an MP, journalists, labor lawyers and activists broke their fasts in solidarity with these workers and their demands. Friday marked the 96th day of their ongoing strike.

Several Central Security Forces trucks loaded with riot police troops were stationed outside the company along with a number of State Security officers.

Gamal Othman, a strike leader and one of several sacked workers at the company, shouted "this is the 96th day of our strike and tomorrow will be as if it was our first day on strike! And how long are we willing to persist?!" Hundreds of the striking workers replied in unison "several more years!"

Tens of Tanta Flax workers, strike leaders and solidarity activists then took off to a hospital in Shebin El Kom City to visit four out of the six punitively sacked workers from the Indorama Shebin Textile Company who have been on an ongoing hunger strike since August 30 - now one week.

The visiting workers and activists expressed their solidarity with the four hunger strikers: Mohamed El Aasar, Abdel Aziz Mohamed, Ayman El Seesi, and Samir El Qazazz.

Power to the 1,000 Tanta Flax strikers & power to the four Shebin El Kom hunger strikers.

In Solidarity,

US Citizen Involved in Pro-Gaza March Barred from Entering Egypt

American citizen barred from entering Egypt
Al-Masry Al-Youm
Thursday 03 September 2009
By Joseph Mayton

It had already been a whirlwind few days for Travis Randall as his plane landed at Cairo International Airport on Tuesday evening around 9 pm. He was looking forward to the return to Egypt, his home for the better part of the past three years working at Enigma magazine and then as a consultant for USAID.

By Wednesday the 27-year-old American found himself deported on a flight back to London. The time spent between his arrival and departure was shocking for Randal who was back in Cairo to follow-up on potential interest in a television series idea he was working on.

Randall sent a text message to this reporter, a friend, at 9:36 pm saying that he believed he was about to be interrogated at the airport and asked what he should do.

He then spent the next few hours being taken from one room to another, he said, until he was informed that he was not to be allowed into the country and must book himself immediately back to London -- Randall had arrived in Cairo on the return leg of his round-trip ticket bought before leaving Egypt earlier this summer.

The Egyptian Twittersphere was closely monitoring the situation, tweeting news on Randall’s situation, as it became known. Mohamed Maree, a blogger based in Mahalla, questioned if the American was not being held due to his taking part in the February Free Gaza march earlier this year.

This was the solidarity with Gaza march that resulted in German-Egyptian blogger Philip Rizk being arrested and jailed for four days. It sparked widespread outrage here in Egypt and abroad. Although Randall was not arrested at the time, his participation seems to have prompted Egyptian officials to put his name on “the list" at the airport.

Randall himself said later in the evening Tuesday that the customs officer had told him he is on a “list" and had to move to a security zone where he would be questioned.

“The officers are not telling me why I am sitting here and one guy even said he doesn’t know what is happening," Randall said shortly before getting the order to return to London.

The American Embassy in Cairo has also received a massive amount of criticism from the Twittersphere over the handling of the situation. One American tweeted that “the embassy refuses to intervene in these situations and it is crap."

Upon receiving orders from security, Randall says he contacted the Embassy, where an official told him “there is nothing I can do. You have to follow the rules."

No American official was sent to the airport and no intervention was made on behalf of the American citizen, who had his computer and laptop confiscated at around 2:00 am. The Embassy, in conversations early Wednesday morning and again in the afternoon, said they were “following what was happening" but could not comment to “non-family members."

Following the dissemination of Randall’s deportation, the Embassy and American President Barack Obama became the topic of discussion for activists and observers in the country. One tweet from the US read “will my president do anything or will this be a nothing situation like always."

A number of other twitterers, including likened Randall’s situation to James Buck – the American photographer detained briefly in 2008, during the massive Mahalla workers strikes in the Delta. In Buck’s case the American Embassy only sent him cell phone credit.

“I'm sad about what happened and concerned for Travis. It's distressing to have your life's plans changed for you for no logical reason," a friend added in frustration.

Randall’s family and girlfriend have confirmed that he arrived safely in London.