Monday, October 31, 2011

Photos: March against SCAF & its military tribunals

Some 3,000 Egyptians took part in a protest march against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF,) demanding the release of activist-blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, along with thousands of other civilians sentenced to prison by military tribunals.
The protest began at 7pm in Talaat Harb Square, downtown Cairo. Protesters then marched on Tahrir Square.

On the back of this protester - Free Alaa Abdel Fattah. No military tribunals, no more emergency law, down with military rule.

Thousands of protesters marched onwards to the district of Bab el Khalq - outside the police department where Alaa and others are jailed.

Even Suzanne Mubarak, and (ex-Interior Minister) Habib el-Adly were present at this protest march.

Youth activists posted stickers, and posters of Alaa on the entrance of the Military Police barracks, some even spray painted anti-SCAF stencils on the barracks' outer walls.

Portrait of Alaa.

Free Alaa spray painted on the outer wall of the Police Department in Bab el Khalq, a row of riot police looks on.

Protesters demanded the release, or retrial, of thousands of civilians imprisoned by verdicts issued from military tribunals. Over 12,000 civilians have been referred to military courts since SCAF assumed power.

Slogans were chanted against the military junta, and the Ministry of Interior. In mockery, hundreds of activists dedicated a birthday song to SCAF-chief, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi. Mubarak's lap-dog/general turned 76 years old today.

Police/pigs observe the protest from the rooftop of their quarters. With their cameras and cellphones, some pigs even took surveillance videos and photos.

After some three hours, the protest march winded-up and headed back to Tahrir Square.

Egyptians Rally for Blogger Jailed for Defying Military Prosecutor

New York Times
Egyptians Rally for Blogger Jailed for Defying Military Prosecutor

October 31, 2011


Egyptian activists rallied in Cairo on Monday night, demanding the release of an imprisoned blogger and an end to military trials for civilians. Supporters of the blogger, Alaa Abd El Fattah, chanted slogans demanding his freedom outside his cell.

Mr. Fattah was detained on Sunday after he responded to a summons from a military prosecutor but refused to answer any questions about a protest he attended on Oct. 9, which ended in violence and the deaths of 28 people, most of them Coptic Christians.

Although the authorities initially blamed that night’s violence on protesters, eyewitnesses claimed that soldiers had used excessive force, firing live ammunition and driving armored personnel carriers into crowds outside the headquarters of state television, known as Maspiro.

As the Committee to Protect Journalists explained on Monday, days before he was summoned by the military prosecutor, Mr. Fattah published an opinion piece in the independent daily Al-Shorouk in which he criticized the military’s investigation of the clashes, “saying it could not conduct an impartial investigation into its own activities.” Mr. Fattah’s article for the Egyptian newspaper also described what he witnessed at the protest, and at a Coptic hospital where the wounded and dead were taken after it. He referred pointedly to the soldiers now ruling Egypt as “Mubarak’s military.”

After his article was published, a counterrevolutionary blogger who goes by the name Ahmed Spider struck back at Mr. Fattah, charging that he had incited Christian protesters to attack soldiers. Mr. Fattah, who has been a leading figure in protests this year, has consistently maintained that protesters have used violence only in self-defense, when attacked.

On his way to the hearing on Sunday, Mr. Fattah told Reuters, “They committed a massacre, a horrible crime, and now they are working on framing someone else for it.” He added, “Instead of launching a proper investigation, they are sending activists to trial for saying the plain truth, and that is that the army committed a crime in cold blood.”

The Egyptian news site Ahram Online reported on Sunday that Mr. Fattah refused to submit to interrogation, “on the grounds that the military prosecution had no legitimate right to question civilians.”

Since Jan. 28, the third day of Egypt’s revolution, military tribunals have conducted about 12,000 trials of Egyptian civilians, resulting in more than 8,000 convictions. Mr. Fattah’s sister Mona Seif helps lead a group dedicated to ending military trials for Egyptian civilians.

Another activist, Bahaa Saber, who also defied the prosecutor’s authority, was released. A video posted on YouTube on Sunday showed Mr. Saber leading chants against the military as soon as he left the prosecutor’s office.

On Monday night, Mr. Saber again led chants against Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Mr. Fattah’s father, a human rights lawyer, reminded Ahram Online that his son and Mr. Saber “were both detained for supporting the independence of the judiciary in 2006.”

“They both stood against Mubarak and were ready to pay a price and now they are doing the same,” the father said.

As a profile of the activist blogger in Ahram Online explained, Mr. Fattah was brought up in a family of leftists with a long history of political activism. His father, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamed, is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who used to run the Cairo-based Hisham Mubarak Law Center. Ahmed Seif El-Islam was arrested in the 1980s and imprisoned for five years for his political activity.

Mr. Fattah’s mother, Laila Soueif, is an activist and a professor at Cairo University. An aunt, Ahdaf Soueif, is a novelist who suggested, in a scathing commentary on the Oct. 9 violence, that the men who rule Egypt wanted to provoke sectarian clashes to justify their continued grip on power.

Mr. Fattah’s wife, Manal Hassan, is also an activist, and the couple collaborate on a blog. As Ahram Online explained, they were living in South Africa until January, “when they took the first flight to Cairo to join Tahrir Square protesters as the revolution erupted.” The news site added:

Following Mubarak’s ouster and concomitant promises of democratic transition, the couple decided to return to Egypt on a permanent basis. Through their Twitter accounts, @alaa and @manal, the couple announced their intention to have a baby. The baby, they noted, would be named Khaled after Khaled Said, the young man from Alexandria beaten to death by police last year who became a posthumous icon of Egypt’s revolution.

Although she is due to give birth soon, Ms. Hassan marched for her husband on Monday night. That led another activist blogger, Lilian Wagdy, to write: “Today an unborn child marched with us to demand the freedom of his daddy. Khaled is perhaps the youngest revolutionary ever.”

Last week, when Mr. Fattah was in San Francisco to speak at the Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference, the White House said President Obama had pressed the head of Egypt’s armed forces to end military trials for civilians. Now, following Mr. Fattah’s arrest, American Internet activists have begun an online petition campaign asking Mr. Obama to call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces “to immediately and unconditionally end emergency law and stop the military trial and detention of civilians.”

*Photo courtesy of Access

Egypt: Military junta jail blogger who criticized them

Committee to Protect Journalists
Egyptian military officials jail blogger who criticized them

New York, October 31, 2011--Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah, jailed Sunday after he objected to interrogation by military prosecutors, should be released immediately and without condition, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The military prosecutor's office summoned Abd el-Fattah for questioning concerning his coverage of the October 9 clashes between troops and Coptic Christian protestors, local and international news reports said. At least 25 people, including a journalist, were killed in the clashes.

Abd el-Fattah, a critic of Egypt's practice of subjecting civilians to military proceedings, objected to questioning by military prosecutors and demanded any case be handled by civilian authorities. The military prosecutor responded by ordering his detention for 15 days pending investigation, according to several news reports. On Sunday, the military prosecutor filed several charges against Abd el-Fattah, including "inciting violence against the military," "assaulting military personnel," "destroying public property," and "stealing military weapons," news reports said.

Abd el-Fattah and his wife and fellow blogger, Manal, have been outspoken detractors of the military regime on their blog, Manalaa. On October 20, Abd el-Fattah wrote an opinion piece in the independent daily Al-Shorouk in which he criticized the military's investigation of the clashes, saying it could not conduct an impartial investigation into its own activities. The piece detailed Abd el-Fattah's view of the October 9 clashes and the two ensuing days he spent at the morgue, encouraging victims' families to demand autopsy reports. Abd el-Fattah's article was sharply critical of the military, referring to it as "Mubarak's military."

Cameraman Wael Mikhael was killed by a gunshot to the head and two television studios were raided by security forces during the October 9 violence. CPJ reviewed Egyptian state television's coverage of the clashes and concluded that it was inflammatory.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for the ruling military council, the self-proclaimed guardian of the revolution, to try to intimidate critical voices through military trials and contrived criminal charges, instead of addressing some of the fundamental questions they are raising," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "The military must release Abd el-Fattah immediately and drop all charges against him. Failure to do so belies claims that authorities have broken from the intimidation tactics of the past 30 years."

In 2006, Abd el-Fattah was detained for 45 days without charge after writing in support of reformist judges and better election monitoring, CPJ research shows.

Egypt: Latest torture death prompts rage against military junta

Al-Ahram Online
Latest alleged torture death in Egypt prompts public outcry against SCAF

Friday 28 Oct 2011

The alleged torturing to death of Essam Atta on Thursday triggers public outrage over recurring human rights violations by Egypt's military rulers

Hatem Maher

The death of Essam Atta, who was reportedly tortured to death in Cairo’s Torah Prison on Thursday, is sure to further encourage popular discontent with Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

According to the Cairo-based El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, police officers punished Atta for smuggling a mobile-phone SIM card into his cell by inserting hoses into his mouth and anus, which reportedly led to bleeding and caused his subsequent death.

The 24-year-old was arrested on 25 February in relation to the illegal occupation of an apartment and, after being tried by a military court, sentenced to two years in Tora Prison, in which a number of former Mubarak regime figures are currently being held.

Members of Atta’s family, who had been preparing to appeal the court verdict, said that Atta had contacted them on Wednesday to say he had been mistreated by prison guards.

The latest incident comes only one day after two policemen were each given seven-year jail terms for a similar crime – the murder last year of 28-year-old Khaled Said in Alexandria – a charge seen by many activists as far too lenient.

“Who will hold the army accountable for the death of Essam Atta?” asked Heba Raouf, a political science professor at Cairo University. “Who will protect the rights of civilians like Essam – even if they are petty criminals?”

The SCAF is already struggling to appease protesters and activists following numerous human rights violations committed by authorities since the council assumed power in February after the ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak.

Many had hoped the departure of Mubarak, under whom police torture had become routine, would see an end to such practices. Almost nine months later, however, such optimism appears to have been misplaced, with many activists and political observers going so far as to question the SCAF’s intentions.

The military council, for its part, has vowed to hand over executive power to an elected, civilian authority, although it has so far failed to set a definite timetable for highly-anticipated presidential elections.

The SCAF has already come under fire for referring some 12,000 civilians to military courts and imposing restrictions on media coverage. The military council has also been censured for repeated abuses against protesters, including conducting “virginity tests” on female detainees in March and clashing with Coptic Christian demonstrators in Cairo’s Maspero district earlier this month, leaving 26 dead.

Analysts note that, while the council has repeatedly stressed its readiness to accept criticism of its management of the current transitional period, its actions appear to contradict this.

Atta’s emotional message

Atta died shortly after being transferred to Cairo’s Qasr El-Eini Hospital, prompting a chorus of anger and condemnation on social networking websites.

On 7 October, a Facebook page calling for an end to the practice of trying civilians in military courts released an emotional message from Atta, whose family says he was simply watching a scuffle between two other men at the time of his arrest.

“I’m imprisoned because my family is poor. But I’m sure God will stand by me, as God is greater than all people,” he was quoted as saying 20 days before his death.

Influential Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said,” which played a major role organising the popular uprising that culminated in Mubarak’s ouster, swiftly denounced Atta’s murder and called on Egyptians to “rally against injustice.”

“Nothing whatsoever can justify what happened. Even if he’s a criminal, he can’t simply be killed without any due process. Justice is the only way to guarantee order in society,” the page reads.

It goes on: “A businessman was recently involved in clashes that featured the use of live ammunition, but was quickly released nevertheless. Meanwhile, poor people like Atta – who aren’t backed by high-profile figures – are arrested and humiliated. We must reconsider the ideas we’ve inherited.”

Observers have also contrasted the treatment meted out to Atta to that received by Ilan Grapel, a US-Israeli dual citizen detained in Cairo in June on espionage charges. Grapel, who was released on Thursday as part of a prisoner swap deal with Israel, has been quoted by Israeli media as saying: “I was isolated, but the guards were okay. They gave me what I wanted to eat, including fresh fish. They paid for my meals – more than the average Egyptian would get.”

Activists say they plan to hold a rally in front of the Zenhom Morgue in Cairo on Friday morning as they await official results from the forensic examination on Atta’s body.

Egypt’s interior ministry, meanwhile, has thus far refrained from commenting on his death – a silence that could end up tarnishing its already-battered image.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Photos: 'Occupy London' - St. Paul's & Finsbury Sq.


Hundreds of 'Occupy London' protesters outside Saint Paul's Cathedral. "Capitalism is Crisis" indeed! Photos taken October 22.

The 'Occupy London' protests began on October 16, and are ongoing.

Dozens of tents have been pitched outside the cathedral. Protesters continue their occupation and sleep-in despite the cold weather and rain.

"Bankers are the real looters!"

People not profits.

Protesters call on passing vehicles to beep, or honk their horns, in solidarity.

Very valid question on the placard.

Speeches are delivered (even I had the honor of addressing the protesters,) poems are recited, and songs are performed throughout the day and night.


On October 22, 'Occupy London' protesters expanded their protest action, and moved in to occupy the nearby Finsbury Square. Photos of this occupation taken on October 24.

"Capitalism (sure as hell) isn't working!" Encampment in Finsbury Sq.

End corporate greed, stop the bankers' global plundering. Smash Capitalism!

Direct democracy meeting point in Finsbury Square - The People's Assembly.

English protests continue, despite the (clearly) awful English autumn weather.

Communal kitchen, communal dish-washing.

Young activist hums and whistles through his megaphone.

Activists play their instruments in Finsbury Square, for the sake of making music and for radical sing-alongs.

The encampment in Finsbury Square, Moorgate - financial centers, office buildings and banks all around.

Like the sign says.

Pigs in their wagon, parked outside the square. The pigs patrolled around the encampment in their vehicles or on foot, but they have no pretext to enter this peacefully-occupied park.

People of the world, reclaim your public spaces!

Libya: Liberation & questions over Gaddafi’s killing

Associated Press
Libya’s new leaders to declare liberation Sunday amid questions over Gadhafi’s killing

October 22, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya’s new leaders will declare liberation on Sunday, officials said, a move that will start the clock for elections after months of bloodshed that culminated in the death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

But the victory has been clouded by questions over how Gadhafi was killed after images emerged showing he was found alive and taunted and beaten by his captors.

The long-awaited declaration of liberation will come more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich North African nation. It was stalled by fierce resistance by Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and pockets in the South.

Sirte was the last to fall, but Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent and many of his fighters have apparently escaped, raising fears they could continue to make trouble.

With Gadhafi gone, however, the governing National Transitional Council was moving forward with efforts to transform the country that was ruled by one man for more than four decades into a democracy.

NTC officials had said the announcement would be made Saturday in the eastern city of Benghazi, the revolution’s birthplace. But spokesman Abdel-Rahman Busin said preparations were under way for a Sunday ceremony instead. He didn’t give an explanation for the delay.

The transitional leadership has said it would declare a new interim government within a month of liberation and hold elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months, then to organize parliamentary and presidential vote within a year after that.

On Saturday, acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who has said he plans to resign after liberation, said the interim government “should last until the first presidential elections.”

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea, he also said the NTC must move quickly to disarm rebels who helped to overthrow Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year-old regime. He said it was a priority to ensure huge caches of weapons are turned in over the “next few days.”

Jibril also said the Libyan people must remember the agony of the past and choose a different path for the future. He said he was “relieved” after Gadhafi’s ouster, describing it as a “great moment in my life.”

Gadhafi’s blood-streaked body has been put on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping center in Misrata as Libyan authorities argued about where to bury the remains. Fighters from Misrata — a city brutally besieged by Gadhafi’s forces during the civil war — seemed to claim ownership of it, forcing the delay of a planned burial Friday.

Fathi Bashagha, a spokesman for the Misrata military council, said a decision will be made Saturday but he ruled out a full autopsy unless demanded by an international committee or the transitional government “and so far there have been no requests.”

At least four groups of doctors have examined the body and determined the cause of death was a bullet to the head and stomach, Bashagha said. “As far as we are concerned in Misrata, doctors have checked him and determined how he died, so there is no need to cut his body up,” he said.

The bloody siege of Misrata over the summer instilled a particularly virulent hatred of Gadhafi there — a hatred now mixed with pride because he was captured and killed by fighters from Libya’s third-largest city, 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli.

Residents crowded into long lines to get a chance to view the body of Gadhafi, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out vegetable and onions freezer. The body had apparently been stowed in the freezer in an attempt to keep it out of the public eye, but once the location was known, that intention was swept away in the overwhelming desire of residents to see the man they so deeply despised.

Men, women and children filed in to take their picture with the body, with some chanting “We want to see the dog.”

The site’s guards had even organized separate visiting hours for families and single men.

Gadhafi’s 69-year-old body was stripped to the waist, his torso and arms streaked with dried blood. Bullet wounds in the chest, abdomen and left side of the head were visible.

Gadhafi’s family, most of whom are in Algeria or other nearby African nations, issued a statement Friday calling for an investigation into how Gadhafi and another of his sons, Muatassim, were killed. In the statement on the pro-Gadhafi, Syria-based TV station Al-Rai, they asked for international pressure on the NTC to hand over the bodies of the two men to their tribe.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the images of his last moments were very disturbing.

“More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture,” Colville said.

*Associated Press writers Hadeel al-Shalchi in Cairo and Dale Gavlak in Southern Shuneh, Jordan, contributed to this report.

Greek austerity vote leads to more strikes

Greece faces key austerity vote, more strikes

ATHENS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Angry protesters vowed to bring Greece to a standstill on the second day of a general strike on Thursday while disgruntled lawmakers vote on the details of a deeply unpopular austerity package needed to stave off bankruptcy.

Parliament is expected to give a final green light late in the day to the belt-tightening plan required by the EU and the IMF, after backing it in principle in a first reading on Wednesday despite the country's biggest labour action in years.

But some ruling party MPs have warned they may vote against one of the bill's most controversial provisions, threatening to weaken the beleaguered government's narrow majority as it battles a debt crisis that is shaking global markets.

Thousands of police will be deployed through central Athens after black-clad youth clashed with riot police on Wednesday, pelting them with petrol bombs and chunks of marble during an anti-austerity march that drew more than 100,000 protesters.

Ships will be docked, ministries and schools shut and hospitals will work on skeleton staff in the second day of a 48-hour strike against plans to pile more taxes on austerity-hit Greeks and put tens of thousands of state workers on the road to redundancy.

"The protests will shake the government again, they will feel like an earthquake," said Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary general of public union ADEDY.

Protesters are set to rally in front of parliament from 0800 GMT and will try to stay on the square till late at night, while lawmakers vote on the bill.

Analysts expect the protests to continue unabated as Greeks of all walks of life have become increasingly angry at measures they feel only hurt the poorest while tax evaders and corrupt politicians remain unaffected.

But commentators see no other option for the ruling Socialists, who hold 154 seats in the 300-strong assembly, than to pass the measures, a key condition to convince the EU and IMF ahead of a crunch summit on Sunday that Greece deserves to keep getting the loans it needs to avoid bankruptcy.

"People sent a message on Wednesday that they have reached their limits and can't take any more austerity," said Theodore Couloumbis of the ELIAMEP think-tank.

"But these kind of protests cannot topple the government ... I don't see this happening now," he said.

The bill foresees an average income cut of about 20 percent for public sector workers, according to estimates by public sector labour unions, and reduces the tax-free income threshold.

It will make it easier for firms to cut payroll costs by reaching company-level wage agreements, which has particularly angered some ruling party lawmakers.`

Prime Minister George Papandreou will hold a cabinet meeting at around 0900 GMT, ahead of the parliamentary vote and of Sunday's EU summit.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Photos: Murals & Graffiti on Berlin Wall - East Side Gallery

German & Swiss comrades against the wall.

Mural depicting East German jumping the Berlin Wall during the Cold War era.

The Emperor standing amidst his industrial pollution.

Best buddies. Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker, mouth-to-mouth kissing.

Bring down geographic, cultural and ethnic barriers.

The iconic Trabant, East Germany's (only) car during the Soviet-era.

Not sure what this Turco-Arabic looking piece is supposed to depict or mean? I like the smoke and the dog.

Artwork inspired by Pink Floyd's 'The Wall.'

Multicultural and multi-ethnic art - people of color.

An anti-militarist message of tolerance, freedom and respect.

Contemporary abstract art - Japanese sector of Berlin.

Ray Charles and other celebrities featured in this colorful and intricate mural.

I interpret this mural as meaning - run & hide from the shackles of the church.

Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov; In memory of his bravery and human rights activism.

Doves of peace flying away with the Brandenburg Gate.

Get Human... Save Our Earth!

A gate within the Berlin Wall. Color and contrast.

Comic depiction of conditions at 'Checkpoint Charlie'