Monday, February 23, 2009

Ontario Union Votes to Boycott Israeli Universities

The Chronicle of Higher Education
News Blog
Karen Birchard
Feb. 23, 2009

The Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ontario, the largest labor group representing staff members at universities in the province, voted over the weekend to boycott Israeli universities because of Israel’s recent bombing attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The resolution approved by the union differs from one considered in January, when the group proposed a ban on Israeli academics that sparked widespread controversy and criticism. The union’s president was forced to apologize for remarks in which he compared the Gaza bombings to Hitler’s bellicose behavior.

This past weekend, union delegates unanimously passed Resolution 50, which does not mention boycotting professors, only universities. Jewish groups condemned the union’s action, with some saying it went against the grain of Canadian values.

The vote parallels to some degree the rise of a pro-boycott group in the United States, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel .

Terror Attack in Al Hussein - Photos following attack

Photos taken on Feb. 22 - around 11pm .

Police had cordoned-off the area around the Al-Hussein Mosque immediately after the explosion. A handful of journalists & photographers managed to get in shortly after the attack, while many others (including myself) were prevented from doing so.

I managed to get into the scene of the crime nearly four hours after the explosion.

Security personnel were wrapping up their police tape while sniffer dogs were being walked around the area.

It clearly seems like an explosive device was placed underneath this marble/concrete bench by the garden. There were still blood stains on the sidewalk by the demolished bench when I got there.

One French teenage girl has been killed & nearly two dozens wounded. Why?

This is a such a cowardly and incomprehensible act of terror

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AFP - Tourist killed, 25 people wounded in Cairo bombing

CAIRO (AFP) — A bomb at a landmark Cairo bazaar Sunday killed a 17-year-old French girl and wounded 25 people, most of them holidaymakers, in the first deadly violence against Westerners in Egypt since 2006.

The attack struck in the early evening in a street lined with cafes and restaurants in Khan al-Khalili, a 1,500-year-old market that is one of the Egyptian capital's main tourist attractions, witnesses told AFP.

The French girl, who died in hospital from her injuries, was part of a tour group of 54 teenagers from the Paris region who had hoped to buy souvenirs before heading home on Monday.

The bomb wounded 17 of her comrades, including one seriously, French and Egyptian officials said.

"There was a very powerful explosion. Then screams and blood. We all started running," said Romy Janiw, 28, one of the seven adults accompanying the teenagers.

Egyptian deputy health minister Nasir Rasmi told AFP the other wounded included a 37-year-old German, three Saudis and four Egyptians.

"Most of the injuries were small shrapnel wounds," he said.

Mohammed Ismail, who worked in a nearby cafe and was lightly wounded in the attack, said he was watching a football game in a cafe and had stepped out onto the street before the bomb exploded.

"I didn't see the bomb," he told AFP after leaving hospital. "The force of the blast threw me. All I could see was grey smoke. Then I fell unconscious."

A pool of congealing blood was visible on the marble entrance to the Hussein mosque, which is among Egypt's oldest places of worship.

There were no claims of responsibility for the attack and police did not announce any arrests.

Witnesses said the force of the explosion shook surrounding buildings. "The building shook and the books fell of the shelf," said a woman who worked in a store that sold Korans.

The French tourists were taken to hospital for treatment. Fourteen were released after they were treated and after police had taken their statements, but doctors prepared to operate on one who was in critical condition and kept two under observation, Rasmi said.

Medics wheeled the tourists who were released onto a bus parked outside the emergency room, waiting to take them to the Cairo airport. A girl quietly sobbed as a friend tried to comfort her. They were due to board a flight to Paris on Monday morning.

There were conflicting accounts as to how the attack was carried out.

Witnesses and a police official told AFP that two rudimentary bombs were thrown from a rooftop overlooking the street. The second device failed to detonate and was blown up in a controlled explosion, a police source said.

A Western diplomat who accompanied the wounded to hospital said they told police investigators that the bombs had been hurled at them from a roof top.

But Amin Rady, a member of the Egyptian parliament national security committee, told AFP that police suspected that a "primitive" bomb had been placed under a concrete bench, which was shattered by the explosion.

The bombs went off outside the Al-Hussein hotel, just across the square from the Hussein mosque.

The head of Cairo's Al-Azhar University -- Sunni Islam's highest religious authority -- condemned the bombing in a statement carried by the state MENA news agency.

"Those who carried out this criminal act are traitors to their own religion and their nation, and they are distorting the image of Islam which rejects terrorism and bans the killing of innocents," Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed al-Tantawi said.

It was the first deadly attack on tourists in Cairo since a bombing in the same neighbourhood killed two tourists and wounded 18 in 2005.

In April 2006, 20 holidaymakers were killed in the Red Sea resort of Dahab, one of a series of bombings in the Sinai peninsula that were blamed on militants loyal to Al-Qaeda.

Egypt was struck by a spate of deadly attacks on Westerners by Islamic militant groups in the 1990s that dealt a savage blow to the country's vital tourism sector.

Last year, a total of 13 million tourists visited Egypt, earning it 11 billion dollars in revenues, or 11.1 percent of GNP. The industry also employs 12.6 percent of the workforce.

Student protest demands end to security presence on campus

Daily News Egypt
By Sarah Carr

February 22, 2009

CAIRO: Students renewed their demands for free education and an end to the presence of Interior Ministry security forces on university campuses Saturday, during a demonstration at Cairo University.

“Security bodies ban any and all political, cultural and intellectual activity inside universities. They want to create a generation of young people incapable of saying anything except ‘yes’ to Mubarak Senior and Junior,” Mostafa Shawky, a member of the Haqqy (My Right) Socialist student movement said during the protest.

Cairo University student and Haqqy member Ashraf Omar said that the removal of Interior Ministry police from campuses is students’ main priority.

“We want to link student issues with wider issues in Egyptian society.

Students form part of a society and must take part in its political life. So our most pressing demand is the removal of Interior Ministry security forces from campuses so that we can increase student activity,” Omar said.

He linked the Egyptian government’s domestic policy with its position on regional issues.

“The regime which contains us by the ‘remote control’ of its security bodies is the same regime which is placing Palestine under siege,” Omar said.

Around 100 students of diverse political leanings including the Islamic Labor Party, the April 6 Youth movement, Nasserists and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) gathered at noon to take part in the protest.

The majority of protestors however were drawn from the Haqqy movement, which organized the protest.

Students declared Feb. 21 “international student day.”

The date coincides with the anniversary of the Feb. 21, 1946 uprising when thousands of Egyptians — including students who marched across Cairo’s Abbas Bridge — demonstrated against British occupation.

Shawqy placed emphasis on the role played by students in protest action.

“In 1977 students took to the streets because of rising food prices. During the 1989 and 2000 Intifadas students shook Egypt, while the 2003 protests against the war on Iraq were triggered by students,” Shawqy told protestors.

He went on to criticize the executive bylaw which implements the 1979 Universities Law.

Students and rights groups criticize the amendments as imposing even more restrictions on the already narrow scope of student activity on university campuses.

Earlier this month the Mansoura Administrative Court ruled the executive bylaw unconstitutional. That decision will now be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

During the demonstration students handed out flyers listing their demands. In addition to the annulment of the executive by-law they called for the removal of Interior Ministry security bodies from university campuses, free education, the right of all students to a place in university halls of residence and an end to students being denied this right because of their political activity.

Students held up symbolic “red cards” and chanted “Freedom, where are you? State security is standing between us” while they marched through campus.

They also denounced Egypt’s role in the siege on the Gaza Strip and called for the release of Ahmed El-Kordy, a detained student member of the Islamic Labor party.

At roughly 1 pm the demonstration arrived at the university’s main entrance where protestors scaled the locked gate and attempted to force it open.

Security bodies eventually allowed protestors to leave the university and enter the area immediately outside it — which had been entirely encircled by rows of hundreds of riot police.

Another, smaller, demonstration had congregated in this area made up predominantly of Brotherhood members with some members of the Kefaya movement for change.

The two groups — MB and non-MB — did not initially come together, instead chanting separate slogans in a repetition of scenes witnessed during January protests against the Israeli invasion of Gaza when MB members refused to chant slogans critical of Egypt’s domestic policy.

Omar attributed the division between the two demonstrations to “organizational shortcomings” adding that “we [Socialist groups] try on all occasions to link and work with political movements of all ideological denominations.”

MB members did however eventually join the non-MB group which marched back inside the university campus.

One commentator, a Brotherhood member who preferred to remain anonymous, said that MB participation in the demonstration was significant.

“For the first time the Muslim Brotherhood has taken part in a protest where demonstrators were holding up pictures of Gamal Abdel Nasser — who imprisoned and killed MB members — and called for the removal of [President] Hosni Mubarak and his government,” the commentator said.

“This was previously a red line for the MB — it’s the first time it happens.”

Egypt: Strike against fertiliser export to Israel

Green Left - Australia
February 21, 2009

This Egyptian strike action follows the successful actions of South African dockworkers, whose refusal to move Israeli goods resulted on February 6 in a ship carrying Israeli goods being unable to offload its cargo.

In an unprecedented action, the first following the recent Israeli war on Gaza, workers of the Egyptian Fertilisers Company in Suez protested on February 7 against the export of fertilisers to Israel.

The company signed an agreement to export 1000 tons of phosphate fertilisers to Israel, at a rate of 100 tons per week.

Two days prior to the protest, workers were surprised by a request from the management to process an order of unmarked bags that will be transported by Jordanian trucks to an undisclosed location.

As a result, about 100 workers went on strike and refused to process the order because they believed, rightly, that the cargo would travel to Israel.

When the management learned about the situation, they broke the strike by threatening the workers of dismissal and deducted 15 days of pay from all workers at the company.

Freed Egyptian Dissident Vows to Fight Mubarak Son’s Succession

By Emad Mekay

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Ayman Nour, a prominent Egyptian dissident freed from jail yesterday, spoke out in his first press conference against the possibility that aging president Hosni Mubarak will name his own son, Gamal, as his successor.

Before Nour was jailed in late 2005, he ran a vigorous presidential election campaign against Mubarak, 80, and criticized the creation of what he said was a dynasty. Egyptian politicians have long speculated that Gamal would be named president when his father left the scene.

“I am against bequeathing the presidency,” Nour said at his party’s downtown Cairo headquarters today. “I was against it before and I will remain against it.”

In presidential elections in 2005, Nour won only 7 percent of the vote to Mubarak’s 88 percent with the rest scattered among other candidates. His campaign was a novelty for Egypt and seemed to herald a new era of political competition.

Instead, the success of the banned Muslim Brotherhood Islamic party in parliamentary elections the same year set off a steady rollback of freedoms by Mubarak. Dissident judges were disbarred, newspaper editors prosecuted, bloggers jailed, strikes broken up by police and street demonstrations suppressed. The government also put new rules in place to limit competition in future presidential and parliamentary votes.

Fraud Charges

Today, Nour vowed to resume his political career which was truncated by charges of fraud. Human Rights Watch, the New York- based monitoring group, called the accusations against Nour “trumped up.” In a statement, HRW urged Mubarak today to free “all peaceful dissidents.”

Under Egyptian law, Nour, 44, cannot seek public office unless he receives a pardon. Nour suffers from diabetes and was released on health grounds. A lawyer by profession, Nour said he will challenge his 2005 verdict. Asked if he will compete against Mubarak again in the 2011 presidential race, he replied, “We are still way before that time.”

Nour said he made no deal with the government for his release. He said he was treated “roughly and violently” during his imprisonment. He displayed a finger-nail size piece of paper on which he said he used to spend hours to write newspaper columns he smuggled out of jail. He said guards prevented him from praying at the prison mosque.

Under the former Bush administration, U.S. Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice made numerous appeals to Mubarak to free Nour without success. Her successor, Hillary Clinton, is scheduled to visit Sharm el-Sheikh on March 2. Nour’s wife, Gamila Ismael, who tried to keep Nour’s Ghad Party together in his absence, declined to speculate on why he was freed with still about a year left in his sentence.

Nour said he didn’t know if U.S. pressure had done any good. In any case, he added, “American intervention was very late.”

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Emad Mekay at

Released After 3 Years Imprisonment - Ayman Nour ( REUTERS-FactBox)

FACTBOX - Facts about Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour

Wed Feb 18, 2009
(Reuters) - Egyptian authorities freed opposition politician Ayman Nour on Wednesday after more than three years of imprisonment on forgery charges he said were politically motivated.

Here are some facts about him:

* Nour was the most successful rival to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the presidential elections of September 2005, the first with multiple candidates. He won 8 percent of the vote against Mubarak's 89 percent in an election which observers said was seriously flawed.

* His case has been an irritant in relations between Egypt and the United States for years, arising during most visits by senior U.S. officials. But in the last years of former U.S. President George W. Bush, the level of U.S. pressure declined.

* At the time of the 2005 election he already faced charges that he submitted forged documents when he set up his liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party in 2004. Nour and his supporters said the authorities fabricated the case against him to eliminate Nour as a rival to Mubarak's son Gamal, who is about the same age.

* In his years in prison Nour has suffered from diabetes and heart problems. But the courts rejected all his attempts to secure early release on health grounds.

* Nour, a feisty lawyer who is now 44, began his political life in the liberal Wafd Party, which had dominated Egyptian politics before army officers took power in 1952. But he fell out with his Wafd colleagues and rapidly created what briefly become the largest opposition party in parliament.

* In his absence the Ghad Party has become a shadow of what it once was. An anti-Nour splinter group has harassed the Nour loyalists and two suspicious fires have damaged Ghad property including one that gutted Nour's private central Cairo office.

* Nour had one of the most liberal agendas of any prominent Egyptian politician. He advocated removing all restrictions on forming political parties and publishing newspapers, direct elections for many offices, and a single "civil status" law for marriage, divorce and inheritance in place of the current separate laws for Muslims and Christians.

(Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Charles Dick)

AI - Egypt: Dia' el Din Gad's Incommunicado detention/enforced disappearance/fear of torture/medical concern

Amnesty International
18 February 2009

EGYPT Dia' el Din Gad (m), aged 23

Incommunicado detention/enforced disappearance/fear of torture/medical concern

Student blogger Dia' el Din Gad, who has been denouncing President Mubarak for Egypt’s policy towards the Gaza Strip and the authorities' attitude to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, was arrested on 6 February by State Security Investigations (SSI) officers. His whereabouts have still not been disclosed by the Egyptian authorities, despite his family’s and lawyer’s inquiries to the Ministry of the Interior and the office of the Public prosecutor. He is believed to be held incommunicado in an unknown location, putting him at danger of torture.

Just before his arrest, Dia’ el Din Gad had returned to his home in Qotour city near Tanta city (north of Cairo) following the Friday prayer. When he left the house to take a phone call, he was immediately arrested by SSI officers. They beat him as he was screaming to his mother for help and took him away.

Dia' el Din Gad’s mother described to Amnesty International how he frequently suffers panic attacks which make it difficult for him to breathe. He also has difficulty walking or bending one of his legs, due to injuries suffered in childhood. He takes painkillers and other medication, which he did not have with him when he was arrested.

Dia' el Din Gad wrote on his blog, Sout Ghadeb (Angry Voice) views criticizing the Egyptian policy regarding Gaza – including the restrictions on humanitarian aid delivered through Egypt to Gaza – and later regarding the 4 February arrest of Ahmed Doma, a leading member of the civil disobedience youth movement, the Popular Movement to Free Egypt (usually known as Ghadeboun – "we are angry"). He also referred to President Hosni Mubarak as "Ehud Mubarak" – in a reference to Israeli Minister of Defence Ehud Barak. According to local activists, a few days before he was arrested, Dia' el Din Gad had taken part in demonstrations organized by the liberal Wafd opposition party in Cairo in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Egyptian security forces have in the recent months arrested those critical of the government’s position with regard to Gaza, including hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood staging protests and many bloggers and youth activists for their writings on Egypt’s policy on Gaza. Most recently, Egyptian-German blogger Philip Rizk was arrested by SSI officers on 6 February at a Gaza solidarity march, and held for four days. Another blogger, Mohamed Adel, was arrested on 20 November and detained incommunicado for almost a month. He is now facing charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood opposition group and trying to illegally cross the Egyptian border into Gaza.

Ahmed Doma was sentenced by a military court on 10 February 2009 to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$365), along with Ahmed Kamal Abdel Aal. Both were convicted of illegally crossing the eastern border of Egypt into Gaza. While Ahmed Doma appears to have entered the Gaza Strip during the Israeli military campaign and returned afterwards, Ahmed Kamal Abdel Aal appears to have been arrested in Rafah, on suspicion of his intention to cross into the Gaza Strip. On 11 February 2009, Magdy Hussein, General Secretary of the suspended Labour party, was sentenced by a military court under the same charge to two years imprisonment and a fine of 5’000 Egyptian pounds (US$912).

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Arabic or your own language:
- urging the Egyptian authorities to disclose Dia' el Din Gad’ whereabouts immediately, and give him access to lawyers of his choice, his family and any medical attention he may require.
- urging the authorities to ensure that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated;
- urging the authorities to release Dia' el Din Gad immediately and unconditionally, unless he is promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence, as he appears to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and association.


Minster of Interior
Minister Habib Ibrahim El Adly
Ministry of the Interior
25 Al-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +20 22 796 0682
Salutation: Dear Minister

Public Prosecutor
Counsellor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud
Dar al-Qadha al-'Ali
Ramses Street, Cairo, EGYPT
Fax: +20 22 577 4716
Salutation: Dear Counsellor


Director of Human Rights and International Humanitarian and Social Affairs
Wael Abu al-Magd
Human Rights and International Humanitarian and Social Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche al-Nil
Fax: +20 22 574 9713

and to diplomatic representatives of Egypt accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 April 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Egyptian Pharmacists Put their Strike on Hold

Egypt: Pharmacists put their strike on hold
LA Times Blog
Feb. 18, 2009

In a sudden move on Tuesday evening, Egyptian pharmacists decided to suspend their strike during negotiations with the government aimed at reaching a compromise on a new taxation law.

“We received strong promises from top officials that the problem will be solved,” Mahmoud Abdel Maqsoud, secretary-general of the pharmacists’ syndicates told The Times on his way to the Finance Ministry to start a new round of talks. “We don’t mean to torture patients; we deal with a very sensitive commodity so our moves should be well calculated.”

All private pharmacies have abided by their union’s decision to halt the strike, Abdel Maqsoud added.

Pharmacists went on strike in protest of new tax legislation. Strikes recently have become a fashionable act of protest in Egypt -- and a new challenge to President Hosni Mubarak. Several professional and workers unions, including doctors and textile employees, have gone on strike in recent years protesting inflation and demanding higher salaries.

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Egypt: Pharmacists go on strike

HRW - Israel/Egypt: Choking Gaza Harms Civilians

US, EU, Security Council Should Demand Greater Access for Food and Fuel
February 18, 2009

(Jerusalem, February 18, 2009) – Israel should urgently end its unlawful restrictions on desperately needed humanitarian aid and basic goods entering Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today. Security concerns do not justify overly broad limitations on the delivery of food, fuel, and other essential supplies.

Since the end of major military operations on January 18, 2009, Israel has continued to block the entry of significant amounts of food, fuel, cooking gas, and construction materials into Gaza, as well as access by aid workers. The supplies and personnel are needed to alleviate the suffering of civilians, many of whose homes and workplaces were destroyed during Israel’s recent military operation.

“Israel’s major military operation destroyed many lives and dramatically worsened Gaza’s humanitarian crisis,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch, who just spent two weeks in Gaza. “Security concerns do not justify the collective punishment of 1.5 million people by keeping out the aid and supplies they desperately need.”

Gaza’s current needs are vast. Israel’s 22-day “Operation Cast Lead” damaged or destroyed more than 14,000 homes, 68 government buildings, and 31 offices of nongovernmental organizations, according to the UN Development Program (UNDP). Thousands remain homeless. The World Health Organization says that almost half of the 122 health facilities it surveyed were damaged or destroyed.

As of February 5, 88 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people were registered to receive food aid from the United Nations, with many of them wholly dependent on this assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Israel continues to exercise full control of Gaza’s borders and airspace, with the exception of the Rafah crossing with Egypt. While Israel is entitled to inspect goods going into Gaza, any restrictions on relief should be for specific security reasons and not to block genuine humanitarian aid. Overly broad restrictions on basic goods violate international humanitarian law, which restricts a government with effective control over a territory from blocking goods essential to the survival of the civilian population.

The restrictions also violate Israel’s duty as an occupying power to safeguard the health and welfare of the occupied population, and amount to collective punishment against the civilian population, Human Rights Watch said.

Egypt has directly contributed to the worsening humanitarian crisis by restricting humanitarian aid and personnel from entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Human Rights Watch said. After opening the border partially during the fighting, Egypt closed it again on February 5. Only Gaza residents needing outside medical attention are allowed to cross, on a case-by-case basis.

Many goods are entering Gaza from Egypt clandestinely through the network of cross-border tunnels that continue to operate, despite ongoing Israeli military attempts to destroy them. Media reports indicate that Egypt may be slowly clamping down on the illegal trade.

Human Rights Watch called on the United States and other influential governments, as well as the European Union and UN Security Council, to press Israel and Egypt to stop unlawfully restricting access for essential supplies.

“The US is the key foreign donor to Israel and Egypt, so the Obama administration should push for civilians in Gaza to get urgently needed relief,” Abrahams said.

Human Rights Watch also called on Hamas to stop interfering with relief deliveries inside Gaza. In early February, Hamas seized food and supplies intended for civilians from the UN and at least one international humanitarian organization, but subsequently called the seizures “a mistake” and returned the goods.

Despite Gaza’s urgent needs and Hamas’s attempts to control aid, Israel’s broad restrictions on the delivery of food, fuel, and other goods appear without justification by any legitimate security concern. Since January 18, for example, Israel has blocked shipments of chickpeas, dates, tea bags, children’s puzzles, and macaroni.

Israel also rejected a water purification system donated by the government of France. According to Gaza’s water utility, as of February 16, 50,000 residents had no access to piped water, and an additional 100,000 receive water every seven to 10 days. Shipments of spare parts are needed before major repairs can be made, the utility said.

De-mining teams have been unable to destroy or isolate some unexploded Israeli weapons because Israel has denied entry for needed materials and equipment, OCHA reported on February 16.

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 60 percent of the 200,000 schoolchildren attending its Gaza schools are without a full complement of textbooks because Israel has blocked shipments of paper needed to print the books. The UN agency said that Israel also blocked the material needed to make plastic bags for food distribution.

Humanitarian aid workers trying to enter Gaza have also faced unnecessary restrictions imposed by Israel. According to OCHA, of the 178 requests it monitored in January from nongovernmental organizations to enter Gaza at Erez, the main crossing for people entering Gaza, Israel approved the entry of only 18 international staff from medical NGOs, followed by a small number of unexploded ordinance clearance technicians.

The UN reported that the average number of truckloads per day entering Gaza reached 117 during the week of February 4-10. This was far below the daily average of 475 truckloads in May 2007, just prior to Israel’s intensification of the border closure after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza from Fatah.

Israel also continues to restrict supplies of industrial diesel fuel used to generate electricity, keeping Gaza’s only power plant operating at two-thirds capacity and exacerbating Gaza’s already severe electricity shortage. Israel blocked all petrol, diesel, and cooking gas into Gaza between February 8 and 14, OCHA said. Electricity cuts contribute to widespread water access problems.

Israel claims to facilitate aid shipments, but Israeli officials have repeatedly said they will not allow any aid that they determine bolsters or legitimizes Hamas. Citing security concerns, Israel continues to prevent delivery of many construction materials, including cement, steel, and glass, which prevents aid agencies from starting desperately needed reconstruction. Israel has also blocked money transfers into Gaza, although it recently allowed the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority to transfer US$43 million to pay the salaries of officials on its payroll.

Israel’s refusal to allow exports from Gaza for more than one year has contributed heavily to the territory’s economic collapse, Human Rights Watch said. In a one-time exception on February 11, Israel announced it would allow the shipment of 25,000 cut flowers from Gaza headed for the Netherlands in time for Valentine’s Day.

“Israel’s choke-hold on Gaza has destroyed the territory’s economy and is having long-lasting and devastating effects on the lives of Palestinians,” Abrahams said. “Hamas’s actions cannot be used to justify policies that harm the civilian population.”

Egypt’s restrictions on the movement of goods and people into Gaza through the Rafah crossing have worsened the situation, Human Rights Watch said. According to Egyptian medical officials, Egypt allowed 1,003 wounded Gazans to enter Egypt for medical care during the three weeks of fighting, as well as the delivery of some aid to Gaza and the entry of humanitarian workers. But Egypt closed the border on February 5 without specifying a date or conditions for opening it again.

The Egyptian government has also detained without charge Egyptian activists who campaigned for the government to open the Rafah crossing. On February 3, the country’s High Administrative Court supported the government’s position that Egyptian activists could not transport medical and other aid to Gaza, and that these could only be transferred “through official channels.”

Hamas has also hindered the delivery of aid and supplies. According to the UN relief agency, on February 3 Hamas police seized over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels after the agency’s personnel refused to give those supplies to the Hamas-run Ministry of Social Affairs. Two days later, Hamas seized 200 tons of rice and flour from the agency’s aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom crossing, causing the agency to suspend all aid deliveries. On February 6, a Hamas official said its forces had seized the aid “by mistake.” The agency renewed aid deliveries on February 9, after Hamas returned the aid and gave assurances that seizures would not happen again.

An official with an international humanitarian organization working in Gaza told Human Rights Watch that in early February Hamas had confiscated one of its aid shipments, though it was subsequently returned. Hamas retracted an initial demand that the organization provide information about the Palestinian groups that would distribute the aid.

“Hamas should not confiscate or otherwise interfere in the delivery of aid,” Abrahams said. “Such actions only raise concerns that aid to Gaza won’t reach the civilian population in need.”

International humanitarian law requires parties to a conflict to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Parties are required to allow the free passage of food relief to civilians at risk; starvation of the civilian population may not be used as a method of warfare. A party may take steps to control the content and delivery of humanitarian aid, such as to ensure that consignments do not include weapons. But it may not refuse consent on arbitrary grounds.

Israel remains an occupying power in the Gaza Strip because it continues to exercise effective control over Gaza’s airspace, sea space, and land borders, as well as the territory’s electricity, water and sewage systems. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power is obligated to ensure the health and well-being of the civilian population to the fullest extent possible.

A deliberate refusal to permit access for relief supplies can constitute collective punishment or an illegal reprisal against the civilian population. The prohibition on collective punishment does not just refer to criminal penalties, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, “but penalties of any kind inflicted on persons or entire groups of persons, in defiance of the most elementary principles of humanity, for acts that these persons have not committed.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

AFP - Egypt police arrest 25 striking truckers

CAIRO (AFP) — Egyptian police arrested 25 truckers on Sunday as a strike by truck owners entered its third day, a police official said.

The truck owners had clashed with police who tried to disperse them in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya, the official said.

Owners of articulated lorries, which the transport ministry says account for almost a third of commercial transport in Egypt, went on strike on Friday to protest against a law that would ban the vehicles by 2011.

Businessmen say the strike has pushed up the prices of cement and cooking gas.

The truck owners say the new law will put them out of a livelihood. "We will continue the strike until our demands our met," said Mohammed Abdel Moneim, a spokesman for one of the truckers' unions.

Medhat Stephanous, a manager with the Titan company which owns two cement factories in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and in Beni Sueif, said the strike has raised the price of cement.

"About half of the merchandise did not arrive to the market by last night, causing prices to rise from between 700 and 750 Egyptian pounds a tonne to 850 pounds (144 dollars) a tonne," he said.

Truck owners are expected to meet transport ministry officials on Monday to present their demands.

The ministry says there are 40,000 articulated vehicles in use in the Arab world's most populous country and they account for a disproportionate number of accidents.

Egypt's roads are among the most chaotic and dangerous in the world, with traffic laws widely flouted.

Road accidents kill about 6,000 people and cause 30,000 injuries each year, according to transport ministry figures.

A new highway code came into force in August with the aim of improving road safety.

US Anarchists Call for Action - Mar. 19 & 21

Press Action
Saturday, February 14, 2009

Self-Described Anarchists

Six years of war and occupation of Iraq have come and gone. Lives left tattered amongst the ruins. The US armed forces and their co-conspirators in the military-industrial complex, along with their friends on Wall Street and K Street, continue to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan with impunity. Meanwhile, Obama mania has rendered much of the left fixated on electoral politics.

Clearly, we are at a crossroads in the US anti-war movement: we can put our faith in the newly selected President and hope for change, or take direct action to stop the war machine and send the message that we will not tolerate mass murder and occupation.

The Self Described Anarchist Collective (SDAC), a newly formed collective of anarchists and anti-authoritarians from across the eastern seaboard, is calling for two days of action against the war on March 19th and March 21st. On March 19th, the DC SDS will hold a Funk the War protest in the streets of Washington, DC. On March 21st the ANSWER Coalition, the authoritarian front group for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, is holding its semi-annual national march to end the war in Iraq. But ANSWERS’s dog and pony show will do little, save a 30 second sound bite on the evening news, to send a message to the men and women who continue to bring us death and deception in the name of US imperialism.

War and occupation and capitalism and imperialism are inextricably linked in the global race for the accumulation of wealth and power. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and their sister institutions have played a vital role in ensuring the preservation of that relationship. Shortly after the war in Iraq began, the IMF inserted itself into the war-torn land by imposing a series of Stand By Agreements to restructure the Iraqi economy. In predictable IMF neoliberal style, these agreements removed public subsidies on fuel and oil, causing the price of food and basic necessities to skyrocket. They also cut pensions for retirees, capped public sector worker wages while simultaneously firing hundreds of thousands of government employees, and privatized most state-owned enterprises. It wasn’t enough for the US to physically destroy and occupy Iraq; they had to bring in the banks and financiers to ensure that even after the physical violence has ended, economic violence and occupation will reign supreme.

Please join us in anti-capitalist blocs on March 19th and March 21st in Washington, DC. Together we will throw a wrench in the cogs of the war machine.

The SDAC hopes to strengthen the link between the anti-war and global justice movements. We strive to be not only a presence but a place for dialog between the two overlapping movements, as well as to foster a more militant force against the institutions of capitalism and for the creation of a more just world.

March 19th - please meet at 3:00 PM at McPherson Square. Look for the black flags.

March 21st - please meet at 10:00 AM at Farragut Square. Look for the black flags.

Spokes councils to be announced.

The SDAC is a regional organization with members from across the eastern sea board. SDAC embraces a diversity of tactics and have signed on to the Peoples Global Action hallmarks.

To contact the SDAC or endorse this call please e-mail

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Fucking St. Valentine's Day

AP - Freed blogger describes interrogation in Egypt

The Associated Press
February 12, 2009

CAIRO (AP) — The rules were simple: Don't touch the blindfold. The handcuffs stay on. Speak only when spoken to — and then only in a low voice.

Newly released German-Egyptian activist Philip Rizk said Thursday that he was interrogated by Egypt's State Security for four days, accused of being everything from an Israeli spy to a gunrunner for the militant group Hamas.

Rizk was arrested by security officers last Friday after participating in a small march outside Cairo calling for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip — a closure imposed by Egypt and Israel after Hamas gunmen seized control of the Palestinian territory in June 2007.

Rizk was held in solitary confinement for four days while friends, family and German diplomats inquired about his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention. Then he was abruptly dropped off at his apartment before dawn Wednesday.

His detention reflects Egypt's increasing sensitivity over any criticism of its policies on Gaza and Hamas. Hundreds of members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed, along with a half dozen young vocal bloggers like Rizk who put their criticism online.

Egypt has made no official comment on Rizk's detention, and he was never charged.

Rizk called himself lucky because he was held only a few days and wasn't hurt, ascribing that to his dual nationality and a spirited campaign for his release conducted by friends. Human rights groups allege that torture, including sexual abuse, is commonplace for Egypt's approximately 18,000 political prisoners.

"What happened for a period of four days is that I did nothing much more than answer questions while being interrogated, or sleeping, or trying to sleep," the 27-year-old Rizk told reporters gathered on his balcony in a leafy suburb Thursday, his birthday.

"I was blindfolded the entire time, was wearing handcuffs the entire time except for a few occasions," usually during questioning, he said. He added that he was allowed only one shower.

Rizk said two men questioned him repeatedly about his life, his friends and acquaintances, and his activities. When his answers displeased them, they would replace the handcuffs and make him stand, he said.

"Everything in your head, we want to take it out," he quoted one interrogator as telling him.

Rather than physical abuse, "it was more the threats of what could happen to me if I were not to say the truth," Rizk said.

"I heard sounds of things going on around me," including screams, he said. "I don't know if they were recordings or they were actually taking place — people being tortured."

Rizk said his questioners accused him of spying for Israel and then of dealing weapons to Israel's staunch enemy, Hamas.

Until his detention, Rizk operated a blog highlighting the plight of Palestinians called Tabula Gaza and was a graduate student in Middle East studies at the American University in Cairo.

He said that while he was in custody security officers went to his apartment and took his computers, cameras, portable hard drives and the research notes for his master's thesis. They also broke into e-mail accounts and read all his mail, he said.

"They've taken my blog down which I've worked on since 2006. They have more control over parts of my life than I do. This is a horrible feeling. It took some time to sink in," Rizk said.

Blogger Dia' Eddin Gad still in jail; Philip Rizk released from detention

EGYPT: Bloggers Philip Rizk released from detention; Dia' Eddin Gad still in jail

Posted February 12th, 2009

VIENNA, February 12, 2009 (RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of pro-Palestinian blogger Dia' Eddin Gad, who has been held since February 6, and hails the release, on 10 February, of Philip Rizk, another blogger who was arrested the same day for expressing support for the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel.

Reporters Without Borders said, "Gad must also be freed. By carrying out such arrests, the Egyptian authorities are trying to make it a crime to take sides.

It is an intimidating measure of a kind that is being used with increasing frequency. As well as being illegal, these two arrests are yet another warning shot to free expression in Egypt."

Police arrested Gad, 22, at his home in Kattour (in the Nile delta province of Gharbiyah) and took him away in a car to an unknown location.

In January, Gad started a blog called "Voice in Anger" - in which he criticised the Egyptian government's position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and described himself as "an Egyptian citizen who loves his county and wishes it and its people a long life."

Meanwhile Rizk, a philosophy and psychology student at the American University in Cairo who has German and Egyptian dual citizenship, was arrested along with 14 other activists as they were returning home from a demonstration in Cairo calling on the Egyptian government to support the Palestinian cause.

The prosecutor's office confirmed on 8 February that he was being held but did not say where. His family finally reported his release on 10 February. Since being reunited with his family, Rizk has called for the demonstrations to continue. An investigation into his case is still underway.

Aged 26, Rizk started a blog called Tabula Gaza, while living in the Gaza Strip from 2005 to 2007, working for the British NGO Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME).

He made a return trip to Gaza in the summer of 2008 to start making a documentary about the living conditions of the population. During the two visits, he also freelanced for various media outlets such as sfTV, ARD, Al Jazeera and "Daily News".

Both Gad and Rizk have voiced strong support for the Palestinian cause in their blogs but there are important differences.

Rizk's blog is mainly about the life of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while Gad's blog is more political and is openly critical of the position taken by President Hosni Mubarak's government in the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas government.

Egypt is on the Reporters Without Borders list of "Enemies of the Internet." At least six bloggers were arrested in 2008 because of what they posted on online forums and chat sites.

Some were blamed for the April 2008 unrest, in which thousands took to the streets in Cairo in protest against living conditions.

The protests were organised in part on the Internet through social networking sites. The authorities were taken by surprise and since then have stepped up surveillance of Internet users. For example, to get a WiFi connection, you have to provide personal information that enables the authorities to locate you.


For further information contact Clothilde Le Coz, Internet Freedom desk,
RSF, 47, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 71, fax:
+33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:,

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of RSF.
In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit RSF.
555 Richmond St. West, # 1101, PO Box 407
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 3B1
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3 Activists Sentenced to Prison by Military Courts; German-Egyptian blogger released;

AP - German-Egyptian blogger freed in Cairo

Associated Press

Egyptian authorities released a 26-year-old German-Egyptian blogger on Wednesday, five days after he was arrested after a march supporting Gaza, but three other pro-Palestinian activists were sentenced to prison by military courts.

Egypt is increasingly sensitive to criticism about its response to Israel's Gaza offensive and appears to be cracking down on a new generation of activists.

The arrests over Gaza are the latest chapter in what has been a wider government crackdown on bloggers and independent activists over the past year.

With most traditional avenues of political dissent closed, bloggers have gained prominence in recent years, exposing government corruption and police brutality. Security agencies have struck back, and more than half a dozen are either in jail or out on bail with cases pending.

The government has also targeted the country's main opposition movement, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which has born the brunt of the government's sensitivity over the Gaza situation. Police have jailed 800 of its members over the last two months, usually for attempting to bring aid to the embattled Palestinians.

Philip Rizk, a graduate student at the American University in Cairo, and a passionate blogger about the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, was held for five days by Egypt's plainclothes security men after marching with 15 others through the countryside outside Cairo carrying pro-Palestinian banners.

State Security never said why he was detained, but Rizk's blog about the situation in Gaza was critical of the Egyptian government's refusal to open its border crossing with Gaza during Israel's the three-week offensive to stop Hamas rocket fire.

Rizk, a graduate of Wheaton College near Chicago, also spent two years in Gaza and produced a documentary there about daily life in the impoverished strip.

Popular anger in Egypt over the Gaza war has been running high due to pervasive media images of Palestinian suffering during the Israeli assault in which 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died. Many feel that Egypt could have done more to support the Palestinians.

Egyptian military tribunals convicted two young activists, Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Kamal, of illegally crossing into Gaza and blogging about the war there and sentenced them to a year in prison. Grizzled opposition politician Magdi Hussein, 58, received two years imprisonment on Wednesday for a similar offense.

On Friday, 22-year-old blogger Diaeddin Gad was also arrested by police at his home north of Cairo and remains in custody after criticizing Egyptian policy on Gaza in his blog, "Voice of Anger," according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. A number of others are also believed to be in custody for similar activism.

According to Ahmed Droubi, a 26-year-old environmental consultant who was present when Rizk was arrested, the regime overreacted to the small, peaceful march on Friday because they did not expect it.

"I think they were shocked, there was something they didn't hear about, suddenly they just found these 15 people walking in the middle of nowhere," he said, describing the six-mile (10-kilometer) march through the countryside north of Cairo.

Every member of the march was questioned and had their information taken down by officers, and many later received visits at their homes or workplaces from plainclothes security men.

"I haven't slept at home in three days," said Travis Randall, 26, of Boulder, Colorado, who took part in the march. He said lawyers recommended he wait until the furor over the whole affair had calmed down before returning home. "They believe it's an intimidation thing."

Unlike many people in State Security custody, Rizk was not physically tortured, according to Droubi who spoke to him after his release. "There was no physical mistreatment, he was interrogated for hours upon hours though."

Egyptian security use such techniques to intimidate young activists and squelch opposition at an early age, explained Aida Seif el-Dawla, a psychologist and veteran political activist working at the Al-Nadim Center for victims of torture.

"The mere fact that you are being held incommunicado is itself a form of psychological torture," she said, explaining that despite the small size of many of the protests, the youth of the activists is considered dangerous by the regime.

"The whole regime is aging and the potential of young people appearing here and there and taking the initiative is threatening, like for example the 6 April group," she said. She was referring to a group that began on the social networking site Facebook calling for an anti-government strike in 2008. The Facebook site attracted tens of thousands of members.

The 27-year-old woman who co-founded the group was arrested and held by security for 18 days. She was released after promising never to engage in political activity again.

Online media has also played a major role in the campaign to release Rizk. Within hours of his detention a Facebook group with thousands of members had been founded, as well as a Web page dedicated to the campaign. Small but spirited rallies were held for his release around Cairo and in Europe and the U.S.

"I think direct action was the key to getting him released. I think also the media coverage was central in organizing that - and Facebook of course," said Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at the American University in Cairo who organized rallies for his release.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

REUTERS - Egypt military court sentences Islamist to 2 years

ISMAILIA, Egypt, Feb 11 (Reuters) - An Islamist opposition activist was sentenced to two years in jail on Wednesday by an Egyptian military court for crossing illegally into the Gaza Strip, judicial sources said.

The sources, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the court also fined Magdy Ahmed Hussein 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($900).

International and local human rights groups criticise the government for trying civilians before military courts under an emergency law enforced since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

The tribunals have been used mostly against members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's strongest opposition group.

Egyptian security services detained Hussein last month when he crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip, saying they believed he had entered Gaza illegally via a cross-border tunnel, security officials said at the time.

The officials said Hussein, the head of the Islamist-oriented Labour party, was carrying no papers other than a driving licence when he tried to return to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing.

The government suspended the activities of Hussein's party in 2000, partly due to its links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hafez Abu Seada, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, said the verdict was harsh.

"I was amazed that he was tried before a military court in the first place," he told Reuters. He said his group was ready to appeal the verdict if Hussein requested its legal help.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak decided in 2007 to set up an appeals court for suspects tried before military tribunals which are known for their tough and swift verdicts.

The Egyptian government has been cracking down on pro-Gaza protests, fearing they may increase the popularity of the Brotherhood, which has historical and ideological ties with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since routing its rival Fatah's forces in 2007. (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed and Alaa Shahine, writing by Alaa Shahine)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free at Last - Philip Rizk Just Released!

The 26 year old German-Egyptian blogger, journalist, film-maker and human rights activist Philip Rizk has just been released by the State Security apparatus - whose officers/thugs had abducted him on the night of February 6th and detained him in an undisclosed location ever since.

He was released sometime around 2am - Wednesday morning (Feb. 11) - and is now with his parents at home.

More updates soon.

Kafarra ya Philip! El Segn lel ged3an ya she2i2

Demonstrators Demand the Release of Gaza Solidarity Activists

Around 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Tuesday night Feb. 10 where they demanded the immediate release of four Gaza solidarity activists being held in Egyptian prisons and State-Security facilities.

These detainees and prisoners include the abducted German-Egyptian blogger, ( journalist and human rights activist Philip Rizk, the abducted and imprisoned pro-Hamas Blogger Mohammad Adel(, the Chief of the populist-Islamic Labor Party, Magdy Hussein - who is arrested and now facing a trial before a military tribunal for having entered into Rafah through unofficial means. The fourth detainee is the pro-Gaza resistance and anti-Mubarak Blogger Diaa El Dein Gad ( ) who was also recently abducted - from his home in the Gharbiya Governorate.

A wide spectrum of political activists showed up to demand the release of these four vocal men and to express their solidarity with them. Demonstrators included members of the (legally frozen) Labor Party, independent Egyptian and foreign nationals - amongst whom where "To Gaza" activists ( ) - along with the Revolutionary Socialists, the Nasserist Karama Party, as well as friends and family of Philip Rizk (

Free Rizk, Hussein, Adel, and Gad
Free Gaza

Monday, February 9, 2009

Free Philip Rizk

Stop the Egyptian Government's Oppression of Pro-Gaza Activists
Free Philip Rizk - الحرية لفيليب رزق

Philip Rizk - Incommunicado detention and fear of torture

Monday 9 February 2009

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately disclose the location of Philip Rizk, who was abducted by State Security Officials last Friday, and if no criminal allegation can be proved against him- to facilitate his immediate release.

FIDH is concerned by the blatant disregard for special legal and judicial procedures displayed by the Egyptian authorities in detaining Philip Rizk, who was part of a group of activists organizing a peaceful march in Qalyubia, north of Cairo, to raise awareness about the effects of the Israeli occupation in Gaza.

Eye-witnesses and fellow activists who were with Rizk at the time claim that the whole group was detained for interrogation on their way back to Cairo, but that only Rizk was abducted, with no formal charges, and taken away to an undisclosed location by state security officials in a vehicle with obscured license plates.

Rizk’s family have also been subject to subsequent harassment by fully armed as well as plain-clothed police officials who appeared at the family home at 1:30 am Monday, with no warrant, to search the premises for incriminating evidence against Philip.

State Security and other police officials seem to pay no attention to the legal standards required for any criminal procedure, which gives rise to serious concern for Rizk’s safety and well-being as well as the rights and protection for his family.

FIDH calls for the full disclosure of the reasons for Rizk’s arrest, his current location and the secured access of Rizk to legal assistance. The Egyptian authorities should also take the necessary measure to ensure that his psychological and physical integrity are safeguarded throughout these procedures.

German Held at Secret Location After Mafia-Style Abduction by Egyptian Police

Middle East Times
By Joseph Mayton

February 09, 2009

CAIRO -- A German-Egyptian arrested by security forces near Cairo following a non-violent march in support of Gaza has sparked an international conundrum and left protesters and rights groups frustrated over the state's maltreatment of peace activists.

Philip Rizk, a filmmaker and postgraduate student at the American University in Cairo (AUC), had joined 14 others in a 10 kilometer (six mile) march on the outskirts of Cairo on Friday, but his whereabouts are a mystery after he was arrested and transferred to an unknown location.

The activists, part of the "To Gaza" campaign, had been marching in solidarity with Palestinians and to raise awareness about the effects of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Rizk had spent two years working in Gaza before returning to Cairo to study one and a half years ago.
He was one of the group's organizers.

Travis Randall, an American participating in the march, told the Middle East Times that the march was simply "a show of solidarity" with Gaza and peace. The demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and signs from Shobra al-Khima to just north of the capital, Qalyubiya.

According to Randall, the march was completed without incident and the group was getting into a minivan to drive back to Cairo when police stopped them.

"We were getting into a minivan when the police came and stopped us from leaving. This was around five in the evening," Randall said.

Mohsen Bashir, a lawyer from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center arrived on the scene a few hours later in order to deal with the police, who were demanding copies of their identification papers.

"The police told us that they were going to release us, but we had to make copies of our passports and ID's first," Randall said.

So the activists agreed to comply with police action. Assuming they were going to a photocopy center, the activists piled back into the minivan and followed the police, who took them to a local police station where Rizk was singled out for questioning.

At first, the activists refused, but the lawyer said he would accompany the German national into the police station.

"Police told us they would question him for 30 minutes and then he would be released," Randall recalled. But after, at around 11:15 pm, they received word that police intended to transfer Rizk away from the station. So the activists formed a line in front of the gate where a vehicle would be required to pass through.

"We ran to the gate to physically block the way of an unmarked vehicle with Philip in the back. Police attempted to pull us out of the way and the van continued to drive and forced us to move to avoid being run down," Randall said of the situation.

One journalist and a representative from the Nadim Center – a Cairo-based human rights organization – who were covering the event, immediately tried to pursue the vehicle taking Rizk.

But police attempted to force the driver out of the vehicle, punching him through the window repeatedly, Randall said. The driver slammed on the gas and drove on to try and catch up with Rizk. However, police roadblocks set up stopped their car and the journalists were unable to follow.

The incident has brought in the German Embassy into the fray, who have said they are doing all they can to secure the release of their national, but as of Sunday evening did not know the location of Rizk.

The Nadim Center said in a statement that Rizk was taken away in an unmarked vehicle and his location remains a mystery.

The rights group "condemns this barbaric, Mafia-style treatment of citizens," the statement said.

On Saturday, the remaining 14 activists from Friday's march held a sit-in in front of the highest appellate court in central Cairo in order to give their statements. Some 40 other lawyers and activists joined them to show their solidarity. Nothing substantial had resulted from it Saturday.

On Sunday evening state security forces arrived at Rizk's family's home in an upscale Cairo neighborhood. According to Ahmed el-Droubi, a leading activist and organizer of march, said that "state security left the Rizk home, but remain on stairs of their home, leaving his parents and sisters in fear over their [security forces] intentions for Phillip."

Rizk, a popular blogger at Tabula Gaza ( had recently completed work on a short documentary on non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation and had been helping to get medicine into the coastal enclave after a 23-day war left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

Egypt's Ministry of Interior has refused to comment on the case, other than telling the Middle East Times on Sunday "we don't know anything."

Some activists have argued that it is part of plan to make Rizk a scapegoat for allegedly smuggling items into Gaza.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

State Security Officers Search & Raid the Rizk Family Residence

Egyptian State Security officers have raided and searched the home of Philip Rizk - a 26 year old German-Egyptian journalist & human rights activist - who had been abducted by elements from this same security apparatus on Friday (Feb. 6) night, after having participated in a solidarity march in the Qalyubiya Governorate with "To Gaza" activists.

Arriving after midnight (the earliest hours of Monday, Feb. 9)these plain-clothed State Security officers searched the Rizk family residence and specifically Philip's room (through which they rampaged); the officers are said to have searched the residence for around two hours and then left. Reportedly nothing was confiscated.

Further details soon.

El Nadim Center Demands Philip Rizk's Release

Where is Philip Rizk?

Egyptian security authorities kidnap activist Philip Rizk to an unknown destination

On February the 6th 2009, Egyptian security forces stopped a number of activists from the Egyptian Popular Campaign in solidarity with the Palestinian people who had organized a "To Gaza" campaign". The police stopped them for hours in front of the Abu Zaabal police station and eventually arrested activist, journalist and AUC postgraduate student Philip Rizk inside the police station before taking him away in a car with a concealed license plate to an unknown destination.

When a number of activists tried to follow the car to identify its destination, they were stopped at a police check point. A police general seized identification papers of Dr. Mostafa Hussein from Nadim Center and physically assaulted him.

On February the 7th, tens of activists, journalists, lawyers and a number of Philip's colleagues and teachers gathered in front of the office of the public prosecutor to file a complaint regarding the kidnap. They were surrounded by tens of riot police, who prevented them from access to the building claiming to be acting upon orders of the public prosecutor himself. Later only the lawyers, Philip's parents and a few activists were allowed in and submitted their complaint.

The public prosecutor confirmed that Philp Rizk is being kept in one of the state security intelligence headquarters, but did not specify which. He referred the complaint to the public attorney in North Banha to follow up the investigations. 14 witnesses of yesterday's kidnap together with the lawyers and Philip's parents went to Banha and met with the public attorney. At 6 p.m. the public attorney the investigation was concluded pending the testimonies of officers who were present at the time of the kidnap, namely officers Mohamed el Shafei, Mahmoud (full name unknown) and general assistant to the security directorate of Qalubeya.

The public attorney met only with Philip's father and lawyer Mohsen Beshir who was present at the time of the kidnap and refused to hear the testimonies of the 14 witnesses who were present at the time of the incident. (For more details visit

El Nadim Center:

- Condemns this barbaric, mafia style treatment of citizens and holds the Egyptian Ministry of Interior responsible for the safety and life of Philip Rizk.

- Calls for the immediate release of Philip and enabling him to contact his family and lawyers.

- Warns from any form of maltreatment or torture of Philip Rizk considering the systematic use of torture in Egyptian police stations in general and state security headquarters in particular.

أين فيليب رزق؟

الأمن المصري يقوم باختطاف الناشط فيليب رزق من أمام قسم شرطة أبو زعبل واصطحابه إلى جهة غير معلومة

بالأمس، السبت الموافق 6 فبراير 2009، تعرضت قوات الأمن المصرية لمجموعة من نشطاء الحملة الشعبية للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني المنظمين لحملة "إلى غزة"، فقامت بإيقافهم واحتجازهم لساعات أمام قسم شرطة أبي زعبل قبل أن تقوم باحتجاز الناشط والصحفي وطالب الدراسات العليا بالجامعة الأمريكية فيليب رزق (انظر الصورة المرفقة)، داخل القسم ثم اختطافه في سيارة مجهولة الارقام حيث تم تغطية لوحة أرقامها بقطعة من القماش (انظر الصورة المرفقة).

وحين حاول عدد من النشطاء متابعة السيارة التي اختطفت فيليب تم إيقافهم في كمين شرطة لتعطيلهم حيث تم سحب أوراق الناشط مصطفي حسين الطبيب بمركز النديم والاعتداء الجسدي عليه من قبل لواء شرطة.

وقد تجمع اليوم العشرات من الناشطين والصحفيين والمحامين وعدد من أساتذة فيليب أمام مقر النائب العام حيث قامت قوات الأمن بمنعهم من الدخول تحت دعوى أن تلك هي تعليمات النائب العام قبل أن تسمح فقط للمحامين وأهل فيليب وعدد محدود من المشاركين بالدخول إلى مبنى القضاء العالي حيث تم تقديم بلاغ باختطاف فيليب.

وقد أكد النائب العام على أن فيليب رزق محتجز بأحد مقرات أمن الدولة لكنه لم يحدد المقر، وقام بتحويل البلاغ إلى المحامي العام بشمال بنها باعتباره الجهة المختصة بالتحقيق. وقد توجه الأربعة عشر شاهد من مجموعة "إلى غزة" إلى المحامي العام ومعهم المحامين. وفي حوالي الساعة 6 مساء، انتهى التحقيق إلى طلب محامي عام بنها الاستماع لأقوال الضباط الذين كانوا في قسم أبو زعبل أثناء وقعة اختطاف فيليب رزق، وهم الضابط محمد الشافعي، الضابط محمود (لا أحد يعرف اسمه بالكامل)، واللواء مساعد مدير أمن محافظة القليوبية.

وقد اكتفى المحامي العام بالاستماع لأقوال والد فيليب رزق والمحامي محسن بشير باعتباره شاهد على وقعة الاختطاف، بالرغم من حضور الأربعة عشر ناشط المشاركين بمجموعة "إلى غزة". (مزيد من التفاصيل على مدونة (

إن مركز النديم:

إذ يدين هذا الأسلوب الهمجي في التعامل مع المواطنين، الذي هو أقرب إلى أساليب المافيا،

يحذر من تعرض فيليب رزق لأي شكل من أشكال سوء المعاملة والتعذيب التي تمارس بشكل منهجي في أقسام الشرطة المصرية عموما وفي مقار أمن الدولة على وجه الخصوص

ويطالب بالإفراج الفوري عن فيليب وتمكينه من الاتصال بذويه ومحاميه

ويحمل وزارة الداخلية والنائب العام المسئولية الكاملة عن حياته وسلامته.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

REUTERS - Egypt police detain Egyptian-German activist

Sat. Feb 7, 2009

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian police have detained an Egyptian-German political activist and blogger on Gaza Strip issues, his sister and an eyewitness said Saturday.

Philip Rizk, 26, a graduate student at the American University in Cairo, was detained by police Friday night while returning to Cairo from Qalyoubia, north of Cairo, his sister Jeanette told Reuters.

Rizk and a group of activists had been holding a march in the rural areas north of Cairo in solidarity with Palestinians and to raise awareness about the effects of Israeli occupation of

Palestinian territories, according to Salma Said, an activist who was with Rizk when he was detained.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said he had received no word of the detention.

Said said police had detained their vehicle for several hours and then said they wanted to talk with Rizk. They put him in a vehicle with no licence plates and sped off. Other policemen then blocked the activists' vehicle to prevent them from following.

"We don't know where he is, and there is no formal charge," Rizk's sister said. She added that the German embassy had been notified and were attempting to locate him.

Rizk, who blogs at Tabula Gaza ( is "passionate" about Gaza and had recently completed most of the work on a short documentary about non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation, according to his sister.

She said that Rizk, who lived in Gaza for two years, had been helping get medicine into the coastal enclave that was recently the target of a 22-day Israeli offensive that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

The Egyptian government contributes to the blockade of Gaza by refusing to open the Rafah crossing point without Israeli approval.

(Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni; Editing by Matthew Jones)