Egyptian dictatorship butchering people

Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

The hangman of the Middle East: US-backed regime in Egypt hands down nearly 2,500 death sentences

30 May 2019

Egypt’s US-backed dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sentenced 2,443 people to death since coming to power in a bloody coup in 2013, according to a report issued this week by the UK-based human rights group Reprieve.

Of those sentenced to die by hanging, 2,008, or 82 percent of the total, were convicted of political offenses.

A death penalty index tracking the use of the death penalty in Egypt and identifying those faced with execution recorded cases up until September 23, 2018, when 77 of those on the country’s teeming death row faced imminent execution as a result of convictions in criminal trials. Since then, at least six of them have been put to death.

In total, 144 people have been executed by the Egyptian regime over the past five years. This compares to a single execution carried out between the 2011 revolution that overthrew the 30-year-long US-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and the July 3, 2013, coup led by General Sisi against the elected government of President Mohammed Morsi. During this same interval, a total of 152 death sentences were recommended by the Egyptian courts, compared to the nearly 2,500 issued since.

The death sentences have, in many cases, been handed down in mass trials in which defendants are brought before drumhead military tribunals in which they are denied all of the elementary rights to a fair trial including the right to present an individual defense, representation by legal counsel and the ability to call or examine witnesses.

The assembly line of state murder in Egypt begins with arbitrary arrest followed by a period of “enforced disappearance” in which prisoners are held incommunicado without charges and subjected to hideous torture until submitting to signing a confession. They are then brought into cages in military courts alongside dozens if not hundreds of others.

Under the regime’s “Assembly Law,” unlimited numbers of defendants can be tried together on the theory that they were involved in a “joint enterprise” in the alleged commission of a crime by a single individual. This has allowed the handing down of the death penalty for thousands of people whose sole crime has been to participate in peaceful protests against the regime.

Children have been subjected to this same treatment, tried for their lives alongside adults. The Reprieve report found that at least 12 of those condemned to hang were children at the time of their arrests, rounded up, tried and sentenced in flagrant violation of international law. Thousands of such children have been unlawfully arrested since the 2013 coup.

Among them is Ahmed Saddouma, who was dragged from his bed and taken from his family’s home on the outskirts of Cairo by Egyptian police in March 2015. He was held incommunicado for 80 days as his parents desperately searched for him. During that time, he was subjected to continuous torture, savagely beaten with metal bars and electrocuted all over his body until he signed a false confession.

Ahmed Saddouma, dragged away by police at the age of 17 and sentenced to die

“It is a political trial based on trumped-up charges,” the boy’s father, Khaled Mostafa Saddouma, told Middle East Eye. “I saw marks of torture on his body, which he said happened during interrogations.”

Even though the crime to which he confessed, the attempted assassination of a judge, took place three weeks after he had been seized by the police, he was convicted and sentenced to death in a mass trial of 30 people. It appears that his only real “crime” was participating in a protest together with fellow members of a group of football fans known as the Ultras.

Also sentenced to die for a crime he was alleged to have committed at the age of 17 and while a high school student is Karim Hemeida Youssef, whose June 22 sentencing was not included in the data compiled by Reprieve.

Arrested in January 2016, he also was subjected to “enforced disappearance” for 42 days during which he was tortured into confessing to taking part in an attack on a Cairo hotel.

“When he denied the charges, a security officer electrocuted him repeatedly all over his body until he was forced to confess,” his father told Middle East Eye.

At least 32 women have also been condemned to death under Sisi’s reign, according to Reprieve.

The abysmal conditions in Egypt’s prisons are claiming more victims than the hangman’s noose. Since the coming to power of Sisi, at least 60,000 people have been imprisoned on political charges, jailed under hellish conditions of severe overcrowding, lack of sanitation and denial of medical care.

According to the London-based Arab Organization for Human Rights, nearly 800 detainees have died in Egyptian jails since the 2013 coup, most as the result of medical negligence.

“Egyptian prisons have turned into execution compounds taking the lives of their detainees by denying them the right to the medical care they need and providing a fertile environment for diseases and epidemics to spread inside the detention centers due to the lack of hygiene, pollution and overcrowding,” the group said.

It said that there had been 20 such deaths so far in 2019, including 15 detainees charged based on their political opposition to the regime.

Egyptian security forces, meanwhile, are carrying out violent repression against the civilian population in the northern Sinai Peninsula that amounts to war crimes, according to a report issued on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The 134-page report documents arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, extra-judicial killings, and mass evictions, as well as air and ground assaults against civilian populations.

The report states that children as young as 12 have been rounded up in mass sweeps of the region and held in secret prisons.

The area is subject to a demilitarization treaty between Egypt and Israel, but the Israeli government has not only allowed a massive Egyptian military deployment, ostensibly in a campaign to eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but has itself participated in airstrikes in the region.

The HRW report called upon the US government to “halt all military and security assistance to Egypt”, while indicating that Washington’s support for the regime implicated it in war crimes.

Washington is the foremost backer of the blood-stained dictatorship in Cairo, with the US Congress approving the Trump administration’s request for $3 billion in aid to the Sisi regime, with another $1.4 billion in the pipeline for 2020.

This aid has gone to the purchase of F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks, Apache attack helicopters and Humvees, all of which have been unleashed upon the population of the Sinai Peninsula. Also included in this package are cluster bomb munitions, banned by most countries because of their lethal effects on civilian populations and, in particular, children.

The US Central Command has also resumed “Operation Bright Star”, a major military exercise begun under the Mubarak dictatorship, which focuses on training Egyptian forces for “irregular warfare.”

The US State Department dismissed the HRW report, insisting that US military aid had “long played a central role in Egypt’s economic and military development, and in furthering regional stability.” It added that the assistance was aimed at “countering the Iranian regime’s dangerous activities” in the region.

Similarly, a Pentagon spokesman insisted that “The US strategic military-to-military relationship with Egypt remains unchanged.”

US President Donald Trump, who praised General Sisi during his visit last month to the White House for doing “a fantastic job in a very difficult situation”, has since announced that he will formally brand the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed the overthrown Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, as a “terrorist organization.”

This classification of an organization that Washington utilized over a long period in the Middle East to counter the influence of socialist and left-nationalist political forces has the sole purpose of legitimizing the mass murder being carried out by the Egyptian regime.

Washington backs Sisi precisely because of his role in ruthlessly suppressing the revolutionary movement of workers and young people that toppled Mubarak in 2011 and threatened to spread throughout the region, undermining the strategic interests of US imperialism.

The police state repression undertaken by the Cairo regime with Washington’s backing is only postponing a revolutionary reckoning with the Egyptian working class. Under conditions in which 40 percent of the population subsists on less than $2 a day, while inflation and the elimination of subsidies to meet the demands of the IMF are slashing the living standards of masses of workers, a new eruption of class battles is inevitable.

Workers who rose up in the textile mill towns of the Nile Delta, the Egyptian ports and in Cairo itself to overthrow Mubarak, will be impelled once again onto the road of struggle. The lessons of the betrayal of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 must be assimilated.

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi dies during show trial: here.


Egyptian actors banned for criticizing dictatorship

This 14 January 2019 video says about itself:

Egyptian Actor Khaled Abol Naga: Arab Spring Ideals Will Prevail Despite Current “Black Wave”

Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga said during a December 31 interview with France 24 Arabic TV that the Arab Spring uprising that swept the Arab world was like a “huge wave of fresh seawater that came and shattered [the old] regimes“. He said that although the Arab world is currently experiencing the “black wave” that usually occurs after revolutions, the ideals of the Arab Spring will ultimately succeed because of their nobility. He also said that freedom of speech is fundamental to Arabs’ ability to change their countries for the better, and that it must be defended despite the disagreements that people have.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Prohibition of acting for famous Egyptian actors after criticism of president

Two well-known Egyptian actors have been expelled from the [government aligned] National Association of Actors after criticizing Egyptian President Sisi. The two spoke out in Washington last Monday against the constitutional change that allowed the 64-year-old president to remain in power until 2034.

Amr Waked and Khaled Abol Naga both played in various Egyptian films and series and some US American films. Naga is also known in Egypt because of the many shows he presented there. Both actors now live abroad.

Shortly after they had criticized, they were told that they had been expelled from the union. That also means that the men are no longer allowed to do their work in Egypt. “It’s ridiculous, it’s like they’re not only throwing us out of the union, but also taking our nationality away“, Naga tells The Washington Post.

Singing ban for singer

A few days ago, Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab was also told that she is no longer allowed to perform. She had said that there is no freedom of expression in Egypt. The singer also presents the Arabic version of The Voice.

Human rights organizations regularly sound the alarm about the North African country. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the human rights situation in Egypt is much worse than in 2010, just before the start of the Arab Spring.

Egyptian singer Sherine banned for criticizing dictatorship

This 1 February 2019 music video is Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab singing Hobbo Ganna.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Ban on singing for Egyptian singer after criticism of censorship

Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab is no longer allowed to perform in her own country after she said that there is no freedom of expression in Egypt. At a performance in Bahrain, she said she could say what she wanted there,

This may be true for that one performance by Sherine. However, another female singer was harassed sexually by the king of Bahrain himself. A Bahraini young poetess was tortured by the king’s daughter for writing a poem critical of oppression. Bahraini doctors and nurses were tortured for trying to heal patients. Etc.

but that anyone who talks freely would end up in prison in Egypt. The singer, known as Sherine in Egypt, also presents the Egyptian [TV] version of The Voice.

The [government aligned] Egyptian Union of Musicians immediately banned singer Sherine from performing, and called on her for an interrogation. A lawyer who has often prosecuted celebrities on behalf of the government has filed charges of defaming Egypt. …

Last year, Sherine also ran into problems when she said the Nile was polluted. A six-month prison sentence was dropped on appeal. …

Since he [dictator Sisi] is in power, many politicians and artists have been imprisoned or exiled.

French President Macron, buddy of Egyptian dictator

This 28 January 2019 video from France says about itself:

Macron risks new criticism over human rights with lucrative trip to Egypt

France’s Emmanuel Macron began a three-day trip to Egypt on Sunday that will include a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to sign deals worth hundreds of millions of euros, a move likely to spark new criticism of Egypt’s human rights record.

By Will Morrow and Alex Lantier:

French President Macron visits the hangman of Cairo

30 January 2019

President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egypt’s bloodstained military dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was a barely veiled threat, tacitly endorsed by governments around the world, against the working class.

For eleven weeks, hundreds of thousands of “yellow vest” protesters in France have marched every weekend to demand higher living standards, tax increases for the wealthy, and an end to repression and militarism. But the financial aristocracy will make no concessions to workers’ social and political demands. Rather, it is preparing a drastic intensification of repression of social protest amid a universal turn of the capitalist class around the world towards authoritarian forms of rule.

The meaning of Macron’s visit to Sisi is unmistakable. Sisi is infamous for his resort to mass murder to drown in blood revolutionary struggles of the working class that erupted in Egypt in 2011. During the 2013 coup against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, his troops shot thousands in broad daylight on the streets of Egypt’s cities. Since then, more than 60,000 people have been jailed, as the Sisi junta carries out mass show trials of its opponents and resorts to systematic torture, documented by human rights groups, of thousands of political prisoners.

Macron’s claim Sunday night that he is visiting the hangman of Cairo so that he can “speak more openly” about “human rights” is ludicrous. Sisi banned the sale of yellow vests in Egypt last year for fear that mass protests would spread from France to Egypt. Macron’s meeting with Sisi doubtless concentrated on a feverish discussion of repression.

Faced with a parasitic financial oligarchy that cannot and will not make concessions, the working class faces a political struggle that can have one of only two outcomes: revolution or counterrevolution.

In Cairo, Macron made clear France would continue arming Sisi to the teeth against the Egyptian workers. French sales of Rafale fighters and other military hardware to Sisi are to continue despite Macron’s mealymouthed comments on human rights. “I would differentiate between the two subjects,” he said. “They are not linked for us and they never were.”

Asked about Amnesty International’s report that French armored vehicles were used in the 2013 repression in Egypt, Macron said France “foresaw they would be used for military purposes.” He claimed that there is “no possible ambiguity” in French weapons sales, that they are intended for the “defense of Egyptian territory against external enemies,” not against the Egyptian people.

Who does Macron think he is kidding? French armored vehicles serve to repress the workers not only in Egypt, but also in France—since Macron took the hitherto unprecedented step of deploying armored vehicles against the “yellow vests”. As Macron escalates repression in France and showers Cairo with weaponry, Sisi can take Macron’s toothless remarks as a green light to use French arms for further crackdowns in Egypt.

The authoritarian regimes and police-state policies of the capitalist class are now facing a challenge from the working class. After over a quarter century of imperialist war in the Middle East since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a decade of European Union (EU) austerity after the 2008 crash, the mechanisms used to suppress the class struggle are collapsing. A global upsurge of the class struggle, of which the 2011 uprising in Egypt was a forerunner, is underway.

The beginning of 2019 has seen a wildcat rebellion by 70,000 autoworkers in Matamoros, Mexico, the largest strike on the North American continent in 20 years, as well as strikes and anti-austerity protests across Europe, and continued mass “yellow vest” demonstrations in France.

On January 14, after nationwide demonstrations in December, a general strike of 700,000 public sector workers in Tunisia brought the country to a standstill, as tens of thousands in Tunis chanted, “The people want the fall of the regime.” Last week, Sisi met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whose government has arrested hundreds and killed dozens since protests began last month over the rising cost of bread and other basic commodities.

As masses of workers and youth internationally enter into struggle, it is critical to draw the lessons of Macron’s trip to Cairo. Macron’s hailing last year of French fascist dictator Philippe Pétain, or German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s endorsement of neo-Nazi riots in German cities, are not isolated accidents. Faced with a challenge from below, the ruling class will seek to use the most ruthless methods.

The French ruling elite’s response to the “yellow vest” protests has been to launch mass arrests and repression on a scale unseen in metropolitan France since the Nazi Occupation. Over 5,000 protesters have been arrested, including more than 1,700 on a single day on December 8. At least four protesters have had their hands blown off by police stun grenades, another 20 have lost eyes from police bean-bag bullets, and one person has been permanently deafened.

Photos have emerged showing riot police in Paris carrying Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifles loaded with live ammunition, and a furious debate is ongoing in the French ruling class about attempting to implement the repressive policies pioneered by Sisi in Egypt against the “yellow vests.”

On January 7, Luc Ferry, a former education minister and self-proclaimed “philosopher”, lashed out on radio against the “yellow vests”, demanding that the military fire live ammunition at them: “We have the fourth largest army in the world, and it is able to put an end to these c—ts,” he said. “These kinds of thugs … from the extreme right, the extreme left and from the housing estates that come to hit the police—enough!”

This statement sums up the sentiments prevailing not just in the ruling classes of France, but of the whole world, who see the turn to dictatorship and repression as the only means to prop up the increasingly hated capitalist system.

The most basic needs of the working class today, including the defense of the most fundamental democratic rights, cannot be met outside of a frontal assault on the fortunes and prerogatives of the capitalist class—a struggle of the international working class for the expropriation of the ruling class and the building of socialism.

Egyptian dictatorship bans yellow vest sales

This 10 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

The Reason France Has Erupted Into Riots

France has had many recent protests directed towards President Emmanuel Macron. Ana Kasparian, Jayar Jackson, and Mark Thompson, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

And now, like the Bahrain dictatorship banned Guy Fawkes masks

By Alex Lantier in France:

Egypt bans yellow vest sales as French protesters reject Macron’s concessions

11 December 2018

The bloody Egyptian dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al Sisi is banning the sale of yellow vests, as protests spread internationally in sympathy with the movement against French President Emmanuel Macron. This came as “yellow vest” protesters in France rejected Macron’s offer of concessions in an attempt to placate the growing movement.

The Sisi dictatorship is terrified that growing working class anger in Egypt and across North Africa could erupt around “yellow vest” protests like those in France. Cairo retailers contacted by AP said police ordered them not to sell the vests until after the protests on January 25 of next year—the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled the hated dictator Hosni Mubarak. Since it took power in 2013 in a bloody military coup, the Sisi regime has banned such protests and sent riot police to beat or kill anyone who defied the ban.

“The police came here a few days back and told us to stop selling them. We asked why, they said they were acting on instructions”, one retailer told AP. Another said, “They seem not to want anyone to do what they are doing in France.”

Industrial safety equipment distributors are reportedly under orders not to sell yellow vests to walk-in customers, but only to verified construction companies who have police permission. Many press outlets reported that the Egyptian Interior Ministry did not answer requests for comments on the yellow vest ban.

Sisi is reportedly a close friend of former French President François Hollande, and French Internet spying firms are deeply implicated in surveillance of the Egyptian population and the identification of individuals via Internet and social media to be arrested and tortured. Despite their best efforts, however, bread riots, textile workers strikes and protests against Sisi’s privatizations and food subsidy cuts have repeatedly shaken Egypt in the last two years.

Sisi’s attempted preemptive strike against “yellow vest” protests in Egypt points to the panic of governments worldwide at the radicalization of the international working class. Demands for social equality, wage increases, an end to militarism and repression and the ouster of unpopular governments, that drive the yellow vest protests in France, are shared by workers and toiling people in every country. As Sisi desperately tries to keep such protests from spreading to Egypt, various forces are calling such protests from one country to the next.

In Europe, Belgian police violently cracked down on Friday’s “yellow vest” protest in Brussels, as protesters also donned yellow vests in the Netherlands and Bulgaria, and also Iraq. After a “yellow vest” protest in Basra against contaminated water and poor city services under the NATO-backed neo-colonial regime, protesters in Baghdad also wore yellow vests to marches on December 7 to show their solidarity with the Basra protests.

Particularly after the brutal police crackdowns in Brussels and on Saturday in Paris, protests are spreading across Africa. In Burkina Faso, a Facebook group has been set up calling for such protests on December 13. It states: “So on December 13, 2018, across Burkina Faso, let us occupy without violence and pacifically every street corner and intersection in our neighborhoods in the cities and villages across the entire country to say: –No to the rise in fuel prices // –No to injustice in all its forms.”

In Tunisia, a recently-founded Facebook group of “Red Vests” issued its first statement on December 7. It denounced the “failure and corruption” of the Tunisian political system and the government’s “policy of systematic impoverishment” of the population. This came after a strikes last week by Tunisian teachers against wage cuts.

As in Egypt, anger in Tunisia is expected to erupt on January 14, on the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that ousted European-backed dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali. … Calls are circulating for a general strike in Tunisia next month.

In Algeria, protesters donned yellow vests and joined in a march in Béjaïa yesterday, prompting worry in bourgeois media. Noting the “gloomy social climate due to the drastic fall in Algerians’ purchasing power,” Mondafrique wrote that protests “have caused an all-out political crisis in France. Is Algeria safe from a possible, indeed probable infection?”

The upsurge of the class struggle and growing solidarity with the “yellow vest” protests in Africa underscore again that the greatest ally of workers in France mobilizing against Macron is the international working class. It has been nearly eight years since the first great revolutionary mobilization of the working class in the 21st century toppled two dictators in North Africa. Now, as calls for general strikes grow in France, Tunisia and across the region, the class struggle is moving objectively towards an eruption of an international general strike.

This came to the fore as “yellow vest” protesters dismissed Macron’s ineffectual 13-minute speech last night, in which he tried to convince them to give up the fight.

Macron insisted he would not repeal the tax cut on the rich, abandon plans for deep cuts to unemployment insurance and pensions, or let up on his standing order for a crackdown on protests. Having threatened the protesters, he offered them a 100 euro monthly (6.7 percent) increase in the minimum wage, a partial repeal of tax hikes on retirees, and tax cuts on overtime pay. Finally he appealed to anti-immigrant racism, calling for an “unprecedented” public debate on national identity and “secularism”, now used as a code word for attacks on Muslim headscarves.

This proposal of an official policy of inciting anti-Muslim racism is dictated primarily by police and military considerations. The French ruling class does not want the emergence of a joint struggle of European and African workers that would cut across its wars, nor a unification of “yellow vest” and immigrant workers that would hamper its police crackdown at home. The way forward for workers is to reject Macron’s neo-fascistic debate with contempt, and seek unity with their class brothers and sisters of all ethnic and religious origins.

Commenters on “yellow vest” Facebook pages largely rejected Macron’s offer, pointing out that it aimed to divide the protesters based on whether or not they are on minimum jobs, retired, etc. “Don’t fall into the trap! All he wants to do is set us against each other to end the movement! So let’s stay united and continue so that each one of us gains a victory,” read one post on the France en colère page, which was overwhelmingly opposed to Macron’s speech.

A new “yellow vest” protest next Saturday in downtown Paris has been called.

Egyptian actress five years in jail for dress?

Egyptian actress Rania Youssef in 'illegal' dress, AFP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

An Egyptian actress has to appear in court because of immorality. During the closing ceremony of a film festival in Cairo, Rania Youssef wore a dress whose skirt was translucent. As a result, her legs were completely visible.

That is considered obscene in Egypt …

One might think that the Egyptian military dictatorship is so indebted to the money of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that they not only give Egyptian islands away to Saudi Arabia and help the Saudi absolute monarchy in its bloody war on the people of Yemen, but that they also copy the Saudi government’s oppression of women by denying them the freedom to dress the way they want as well.

On the other hand, there is a similarity to other friends of the Egyptian dictatorship: NATO countries like France. In France, mainly Muslim women are persecuted for wearing, eg, ‘burkinis’ or maxiskirts. Which seems different at first: but is based on the same denial of women’s rights to wear what they want as in Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

Youssef may get up to five years in prison. Her trial starts on 12 January.

See also here.

TV PRESENTER JAILED FOR INTERVIEWING GAY MAN An Egyptian court has sentenced a TV presenter to a year in prison for interviewing a gay sex worker on his show. [AP]