Irish teenager’s death penalty in Egypt for attending pro-democracy rally?


This video from Ireland says about itself:

Free Ibrahim Halawa

10 December 2014

Ibrahim Halawa is an Irish citizen who has been imprisoned in Egypt for over a year. He is a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty are calling for his immediate release.

Sign the petition here.

On Saturday the 13/12/14, Ibrahim’s birthday, join us as we protest outside the Egyptian embassy and call for Ibrahim’s release!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ibrahim Halawa: Irish teenager faces execution in Egypt after attending pro-democracy rally

He is one [of] 493 detainees charged collectively

Cahal Milmo

Monday 02 March 2015

An Irish teenager held in Egypt for nearly two years after he attended a pro-democracy protest has been moved to a purpose-built prison where he faces a mass trial and possible execution, campaigners have warned.

Ibrahim Halawa was just 17 when he was arrested with his three older sisters after they sought shelter in a Cairo mosque during the demonstration in August 2013.

Although his siblings were released, Ibrahim was placed in adult custody, suffered alleged beatings and had medical treatment withheld for a bullet wound to a hand which is now permanently disfigured. He is one 493 detainees charged collectively with causing deaths and criminal damage.

Legal charity Reprieve said the Irishman, who had been in Egypt to visit relatives, had recently been moved out of Cairo’s notorious Tora prison, where he shared a cell with Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste until the Australian’s release last month.

Mr Halawa is now being held at Wadi el Natrun between Cairo and Alexandria in a jail complex specially built for mass trials.

Maya Foa, head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “Before this farce of a trial resumes, and Ibrahim’s life is put at risk, the Irish government and the EU must do all they can to ensure his return to his family in Dublin.”

With Saturday’s execution of an Islamist defendant, the first state killing of the hundreds of people sentenced to death in mass show trials following the July 2013 military coup, the US-backed Egyptian junta is stepping up its campaign of police-state terror against the people: here.

Report thy neighbour: policing Sisi’s Egypt. A regime bereft of legitimacy, save for its promise to guarantee national security, turns citizens into active players in a new culture of surveillance and reporting: here.

Egyptian pro-democracy blogger jailed


This 21 April 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Exclusive Egyptian Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on Prison, Regime’s War on a Whole Generation 1/3.

And these videos are the sequels.

When the Egyptian military dictatorship are not busy killing women for laying flowers in commemoration of anti-Mubarak dictatorship people killed in 2011; and are not busy killing civilians in Libya; and are not busy being friends with Tony Blair; then they do other things.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Outspoken activist jailed for five years

Tuesday 24th February 2015

WELL-KNOWN Egyptian activist and outspoken blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison in a retrial yesterday, reducing his earlier 15-year tariff.

Mr Abdel-Fattah, who came to prominence during the 2011 national uprising against the Mubarak dictatorship, had been charged with organising an unauthorised protest and assaulting a police officer.

The verdict was condemned by defence lawyers and supporters who said that he should have been set free.

The retrial began in October and involved 25 defendants, five of whom are fugitives. Besides Mr Abdel-Fattah, only one other defendant, Ahmed Adel-Rahman, received a five-year prison sentence. The rest were sentenced to three years.

Judge Hassan Farid also ruled that all the defendants be placed under surveillance for a period similar to their prison terms after their release, requiring them to report daily to the police.

The courtroom erupted after the verdict, with relatives and friends in the gallery shouting: “Down with oppression!”

Police ultimately ordered everyone to clear the courtroom.

Defence lawyer Mohammed Abdel-Aziz decried the verdict as “harsh and oppressive,” saying that the court “didn’t take into consideration any of the evidence that showed the defendants’ innocence.”

Human-rights lawyer Taher Abou el-Nasr commented: “Regrettably, the verdict was expected. We no longer expect acquittals.”

Defence lawyers said that they will take an appeal to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court.

In a brief address before he delivered the verdict, Judge Farid insisted that the ruling was “free of any interference or caprices.”

Save British seagrass meadows


This video from the Red Sea in Egypt is called Green seahorse in sea grass.

From Wildlife Extra:

Government urged to consider important UK seagrass areas

A newly formed NGO has responded in the consultation process to establish the next tranche of Marina Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Project Seagrass is comprised of internationally recognised experts in seagrass ecology and management.

There is an expanding body of literature illustrating how UK seagrass meadows play a significant role in supporting coastal biodiversity and fisheries productivity.

Seagrass meadows cycle nutrients, provide nursery habitat for young fish, are key foraging grounds for adult fish, prevent beach erosion, support human wellbeing, and harbour culturally significant species, such as seahorses.

Fish growing up in a seagrass meadow will have higher chances of reaching maturity and spawning a new generation than those in an alternative low quality nursery habitat such as bare sand.

However, the group says that UK seagrass meadows are under extreme pressure.

As primary producers living in sheltered coastal waters they are subjected to the problems associated with poor water quality and limited catchment management.

Anything that reduces light availability within the water column will result in stress to these plants.

This is compounded by other physical stressors such as anchor and mooring damage, destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, raking and bait digging, and coastal development eroding the long-term resilience of the seagrass systems.

Project Seagrass maintains that providing appropriate and widespread protection for these habitats has never been more urgent.

In a 2013 Swansea University survey throughout the British Isles only two important seagrass sites were found not to have been impacted by poor water quality.

Additional studies utilising GoogleEarth and site visits have revealed the extent of the threats imposed by the impact of inappropriate mooring damage on seagrass meadows throughout the UK.

Examples of the degradation that current mooring practice causes can be seen at Studland Bay, Poole Harbour, Salcombe and around the Isle of Wight.

In the new round of proposed MCZs, the seagrass meadows at Nettle and Mount Bay are included but, the group says, neither is extensive nor particularly threatened.

Adding protection to both of these sites may help in the long-term but is unlikely to have any immediate effect on their management or conservation; effectively these sites are ‘easy wins’ for MCZ creation as neither spots have particular value for alternative uses.

By contrast, seagrass meadows surrounding the North and East of the Isle of Wight and throughout the Solent are under extreme pressure, says the Project, and these have not been included.

The pressure is due to the cumulative impacts of poor water quality, boat use (anchor and mooring damage) and destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, raking, bait digging).

In addition, seagrass meadows in many other areas of the south English coast, for example Studland Bay, are also under pressure from boat use (moorings and anchors) and, again, not included in the current MCZ proposals.

Project Seagrass says there exists sufficient scientific evidence for the long term protection of all seagrass meadows in the UK.

It has requested as part of its submission that DEFRA reconsider its exclusion of Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes from the 2nd tranche of MCZs.

Meadows in need of immediate action such as Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes must be included as MCZs, it says.

For more information visit www.projectseagrass.org.

Washington summit ‘against extremism’, with ‘extremist’ regimes


This 16 November video from the USA says about itself:

Jon Stewart: Turkey Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane

From Mashable in the USA:

Accused human rights abusers attend White House’s extremism summit

By Colin Daileda

10 hours ago

The White House is hosting representatives from more than 60 nations this week for a summit on countering extremism, but some of the attendees have been called extremists in their own right.

The conference focuses on using community outreach to thwart extremist tendencies before they begin, but several nations represented have records of using anti-radicalization laws as a way of shutting off all forms of dissent, including peaceful protesters.

See also: Satirical app helps Muslims ‘condemn’ Islamic extremism

A complete roll call of those in attendance is not publicly available, but we’ve listed some of the known attendees who represent nations with human rights records that show they have not been shy about committing abuses in the name of pursuing extremists.

Egypt

The Egyptian military recently bombed Islamic State targets in Libya after an ISIS affiliate in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian citizens. The show of force displayed Egypt’s willingness to fight extremists. But then, Egypt’s security forces under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have hardly been shy about using force.

After Sisi‘s military deposed President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, they killed more than 1,000 Morsi supporters over the next several months. Sisi’s military has also thrown thousands of other Morsi supporters in jail using broad anti-extremism laws.

Countries such as Egypt are also “using the guise of countering terrorism and the need for security as an umbrella term to throw dissenters in jail and keep them there on bogus charges,” Sarah Margon, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable. She called it a “troubling sign” that governments of nations such as Egypt could participate in a conference meant to counter extremism but then not implement reforms that would ease potentially deadly tensions at home.

Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will attend the White House summit.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE Minister of States for Foreign Affairs, will speak at the conference about effective strategies to counter extremism, according to a senior White House administration official.

The UAE’s Center for Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism is the first international center of its kind. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “an important step,” for countering radicals in 2012. The U.S. has continued to acknowledge the UAE’s role in fighting radicals, but it has done little to acknowledge the nation’s potential human rights abuses.

“In the UAE’s case, they’re certainly deeply repressive and their rights record is very poor,” Nicholas McGeehan, a Human Rights Watch researcher on the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar, told Mashable.

The UAE recently passed legislation it labeled as “counterterrorism” that, McGeehan said allows the death penalty for anyone with material that might be interpreted to oppose fundamental Islamic principles.

“The UAE’s new law could be used to class anyone who criticizes them in public a terrorist,” McGeehan said. “So the U.S. and others should really be taking a look at their ally’s credentials.”

Bahrain

Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will also be at the conference, and McGeehan said the case for caution when dealing with Bahrain might be even stronger than the UAE.

In 2012, Bahrain’s government cracked down on a citizen uprising criticizing its Sunni monarchy. Officials violently suppressed many Shiite citizens who wanted reforms such as a new constitution and a parliament elected by the people. Now, McGeehan said there is evidence that Bahraini authorities have allowed anti-Shia sentiment to fester in its armed forces.

“I think it’s important we keep our eye on the big picture, and not lose sight of the fact that repressive autocrats played a role in the emergence of groups like the [Islamic State],” McGeehan said. “What will be the longterm benefits of fighting symptom with cause?”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, which will be represented at the conference by Vice Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is another example of a nation that uses broad laws to ensnare extremists and peaceful dissidents alike, Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable.

“There’s never really been a concerted effort to make human rights sort of part of that picture,” Coogle said of the Saudi-U.S. relationship.

The Saudi Arabian minister of the interior, he said, essentially has the power to jail whoever he likes.

The nation has used sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws to jail those willing to express an opinion other than the government’s viewpoint.

Recently, a prominent blogger and another well-known lawyer have made headlines from Saudi courts and prisons. They were both convicted of charges that human rights groups say amount to expressing views contrary to the government.

The blogger is serving a sentence of 10 years in prison and is to receive 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam,” while the lawyer is set to be jailed for 15 years for “inciting public opinion against the government.”

United States

The U.S. doesn’t exactly have a squeaky-clean human rights record, either, in the minds of human rights groups.

Abuses detailed in the recently released CIA torture report shed new light on the possible human rights crimes that U.S. agents may have committed. Six years after U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, it remains open. Inside are many prisoners who have not been charged with a crime.

“There are a number of stains on the U.S. that need to be addressed in ways that show a commitment to reverse bad policy and make sure it never happens again,” Margon said.

The U.S. also needs to make a commitment to halt invasive surveillance of Muslim communities that sows distrust, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, told Mashable.

The president gave some assurance on that subject to Muslim families while speaking at the summit Wednesday.

“We have to make sure that abuses stop…that we do not stigmatize entire communities,” Obama said, referring to U.S. law enforcement engaging with Muslim Americans. “Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance.”

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre: here.