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Archive for March, 2007

Mar
31
0

State cracks down on labor activists in Qena

I received alarming news from veteran labor activist Kamal Abbas, the director of the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services. The government has cracked down on the center’s branch in Naga’ Hammadi, Qena, on Thursday. Read the statement below…

Serious Escalation in the Relationship Between the Government and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Decision to Shut Down CTUWS’ Branch in Naji Hamadi

In an unjustifiable and unexplainable governmental escalation, General Al Sherbeeny Hasheesh Chairman of the City of Naj Hamadi (Governorate of Qena in Southern Egypt) issued this morning Thursday 29 March 2007 the Administrative Decision No. 44 of the year 2007 to shut down the branch of the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” in City of Naj Hamadi. This decision completes the series of administrative provocations which the CTUWS had witnessed last week after a discussion the Governorates Local Council hold a discussion about CTUWS according to the Director of the Labour Relations Office of the Ministry of Manpower and the Director of the Social Solidarity Regional Office of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Each of these two directors summoned the CTUWS’ branch staff to investigate CTUWS’ conditions and the nature of its activities. They claimed that enquiries are made in order to complete a report which they are asked to submit to General Magdy Ayoub the Governor of Qena.
On Thursday morning the staff of CTUWS’ branch in Naj Hamadi were surprised by a call from the Chief Police Officer this morning (Thursday) who informed them with the issuance of the Administrative Decision No. 44 of the year 2007 to shut down the branch. The Chief Officer told them that according to his mandate, he is responsible to implement this decision regardless to the validity or the legality of the decision.
During the last two months (January and February 2007) the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” was subject to a fierce aggressive campaign from the Egyptian Trade Union Federation “ETUF” which blamed the CTUWS for the workers’ strikes and protests that took place in some industrial sites before the end of last year and at the beginning of this year. ETUF’s aggressive attack included different kinds of defamation and unfair accusations together with relentless endeavors to turn the state authorities against CTUWS and repeated calls to take every possible measure against it.
Being a member of the National Civil Society Alliance to Monitor the Elections, the CTUWS monitored and followed up the results of the referendum which was made lately on the amendments to the constitution. The monitoring process included constituencies of Qena Governorate. It was natural that some of CTUWS activists  who were formerly trained on elections monitoring and supervision took place in that process. Further, the CTUWS issued a report on the results of the referendum including the infringements and the interventions that took place in all the monitored constituencies.
It is worthy mentioning that the CTUWS branch in Naj Hamadi was opened May 1st 2005 and acted since then regularly and publicly to introduce consultations, training courses and other services for the workers and people of Southern Egypt. However, regardless to the direct reasons for taking the decision to shut down the branch of CTUWS at the present time and to the parties behind taking such a decision, it represents a serious trend and a distressing indication to what may be considered a governmental stand towards the civil society organizations and non governmental organizations, particularly those engaged in human rights and social defence spheres.
The civil society organizations as well as all the alive and democratic powers in our society aspired for salient  democratic reforms to expand the space for civil society, not to be subject to the power of the state bodies or to the accusations plotted for them. We were surprised by this administrative decision which represents a direct violation of the right of expression and the right to peaceful democratic organization. The decision jeopardizes the relationship between the state bodies and the civil society organizations at a time when the move to political reform in our country has become questionable after the amendments to the constitution were approved.
The decision of the Local Council of Naj Hamadi to shut down the CTUWS Branch and the collaboration from the police to enforce the decision which they consider as an enforceable administrative decision even though it was issued by an incompetent body mean that the civil society organizations are besieged by administrative interventions which threaten them from each and every direction. These interventions render the civil society organizations unable to play their role particularly in social defence, monitoring and lobbying against the government bodies.
While the CTUWS announces that it upholds its Naj Hamadi branch and emphasizes that it will continue to extend its services and activities to Southern Egypt where the workers suffer from the wide gap between them and all the social institutions which are centered in the Capital and the Delta region, the CTUWS confirms its right to use all sorts of lobbying and struggle in defending its right to exercise its activities in Egypt as a whole. The CTUWS calls upon all the alive powers, the democratic activities, the civil society organizations and institutions and the political parties to:
• Announce their solidarity with it vis-à-vis this severe attack which continued throughout the last four months,
• Call upon the Governor of Qena and the Minister for Local Government to cancel the decision issued to shut down the branch of the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” in Naj Hamadi City, and
• Call upon all the executive government bodies to respect the fundamental human rights stipulated by international conventions ratified by the Government of Egypt and to give the civil society organizations the opportunity to perform its role which is essential for maintaining social stability.

Please send your solidarity messages to:
H.E. President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The Minister for Local Government    Fax No. 002 (0) 96 349 6795
The Governor of Qena             Fax No. 002 (0) 96 533 2640
The People’s Assembly            Fax No. 002 (0) 2 794 2435
The Council of Ministers            Fax No. 002 (0) 2 795 8048

Click on Kamal Abbas photo below to dowload the statement in Arabic…

Solidarity with Kamal Abbas

[Above: Photo I took of Kamal Abbas, in the Press Syndicate on 7 Feb 2007]

Mar
31
0

9000 grain mills workers stage sit-in

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Categories: Blog

The strike sit-in that started in the North & South Cairo, Giza Grain Mills Company in Talbeya (Faisal St, Giza) spread to the company’s branch in Sharabeyya district in Cairo, bringing a total number of 9000 workers on strike into the sit-in. Click on the workers’ photo below to read more details in Arabic by Al-Masry Al-Youm…

Strike

Mar
31
0

عدد جديد: الإشتـــراكي

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Categories: Blog

The new issue of L’Ishtiraki, The Socialist, is now available online. Click on the pic below to download it in PDF format…

Click to download

Mar
31
0

Cairo Anti-War Conference: Abu Omar makes an appearance; Sharqawi identifies his torturers

The second day at Cairo’s 5th Anti-War Conference and 3rd Cairo Social Forum brought earthshaking surprises at it’s Anti-Torture Forum, held on Friday afternoon.

Abu Omar (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

[Above: Abu Omar in the Press Syndicate, Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy]

Abu Omar–the Alexandrian cleric kidnapped 2003 by the CIA in Milan and rendered to Egypt where he was brutally tortured–showed up today at the Press Syndicate, defying the travel ban imposed on him by State Security as a condition for his release. Abu Omar took part in the Anti-Torture Forum, chaired by leftist activist Dr. Aida Seif el-Dawla, where he presented his testimony about his torture odyssey from Milan to Cairo, via Germany. “I was severely tortured by the Mukhabarrat and State Security,” Abu Omar said. “I was electrocuted for months, till my whole body turned black.”

Abu Omar (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

[Above:Abu Omar speaking about his ordeal, at the Anti-Torture Forum, organized by Cairo’s 3rd Social Forum at the Press Syndicate. Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy]

Abu Omar expressed fears of re-arrest by the Egyptian police for speaking to the media, but insisted he will keep on talking. “If I stay silent, these practices (by the Egyptian security services) will continue.” The cleric also pleaded to be allowed to leave Egypt, back to Italy.

Another political bomb was thrown by blogger Mohamed el-Sharqawi, who gave his testimony about the torture and sexual abuse he faced in Qasr el-Nil Police Station on 25 May 2006. For the first time, Sharqawi named his torturers.

Anti-Torture Forum

[Above L-R: MB blogger Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, leftist blogger Mohamed el-Sharqawi, and rights activist Dr. Aida Seif el-Dawla, during the anti-torture forum. Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy]

“Police Major Samaw’al Mohamed Abu Sehla was the first to kidnap me from the car I was in on that day,” Sharqawi told the audience.

Police Major Abu Sehla

And, “the State Security officer who supervised my torture inside Qasr el-Nil Police Station is named Sherif.”

SS Officer Sherif

Sharqawi also expressed his frustration with the refusal of the authorities to open an investigation into his abuse, despite the repeated requests by his lawyers, accusing State Security of breaking into his house and stealing his laptop…

Mar
30
0

Children for Freedom

The children of MB detainees will also voice their hopes and fears, during the Cairo Anti-War Conference on Saturday….

Mar
30
0

1000 Giza Grain mill workers stage sit-in

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Categories: Blog

More than 1,000 workers at the state-owned Grain Grinding Mills in Talbeya, Giza, have started a sit-in Thursday morning, protesting the government’s decision to reduce the supply of wheat to the company, in favor of privately owned firms, in what the workers fear as the first step towards privatizing or closing down the mills.

More details in Arabic here…

Mar
30
0

5th Cairo Anti-War Conference opens

It was a great evening ya shabab, with hundreds of activists filling the syndicate’s entrance and main hall, listening to representatives of Egyptian leftist and Islamist parties, leaders of Arab resistance groups, and international anti-war activists…

Openning Rally (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

The Press Syndicate’s was buzzing with movement, as young students and activists from the Muslim Brothers, Karama, Revolutionary Socialists, and independents set up booths, with political pamphlets, publications, leaflets. The MB youth also held banners denouncing Mubarak’s military tribunals…

MB youth denounce military tribunals (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

It was my first time to see Socialist activist and friend Khaled Abdel Hamid following his release… Again, Mabrouk ya ostazi…

Khaled Abdel Hamid (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

I missed half of the speakers, as I was busy standing with journalist Ibrahim el-Sahary and others at the Center for Socialist Studies‘ booth outside the hall.

Socialist journalist Ibrahim el-Sahary (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Mahdi Akef, the Chairman of the Muslim Brothers, was one of the speakers in the opening rally. Among things he said was “American soldiers are dying today as victims of American Capitalism” and condemned the “military-industrial complex” that “took over” the US. I thought it was interesting, as I never heard this lingo before from Akef.

I was thrilled also to listen to two British revolutionary socialists, who are no strangers to Cairo…

Alex Callinicos (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Alex Callinicos (photo above) and John Rees (photo below), whose books and contribution to revolutionary socialist thought have had a strong impact on Egypt’s new radical left…

John Rees (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Journalist and friend Sameh Naguib spoke in the name of Egypt’s Socialists, saluting Arab resistance fighters in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, and denounced the blackmail and pressuring the Arab regimes are exerting on these movements. Sameh also greeted the international anti-war protesters, “who exposed that the current battle is neither religious nor cultural, but a battle between the majority of the world’s poor and those who instigate wars, breed racism and enforce capitalist globalization.”

Socialist activist Sameh Naguib (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

In the name of Egypt’s Socialists, Sameh also expressed solidarity with Khairat el-Shatter and the MB detainees facing unjust military tribunals, affirming that “the struggle against Mubarak’s regime is just in its beginning and not end as the regime hopes. Despite the constitutional coup, passed by force and forgery, the Egyptian state terrorism will not intimidate us. Their laws and dictatorial constitution will not deter us from fighting for freedom and justice.” The way forward has been shown by the tens of thousands of striking workers over the past four months, Sameh said, affirming that the movement for political change had no other option but linking their struggle against the corrupt dictatorship with the labor struggles in Mahalla, Kafr el-Dawwar, Helwan and Alexandria…

The 70-strong South Korean delegation attracted lots of interest and applause, when anti-capitalist campaigner Choi Il-bung took the stage, to denounce the war in Iraq, the South Korean government’s clientalism to the US, and Mubarak’s Abu Ghraib-style torture of dissidents…

Activist Choi Il-bung (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Choi and his comrades demonstrated May last year in front of the Egyptian embassy in Seoul in solidarity with the Kefaya detainees…

Click to view more pix

One of the stars tonight was Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas’ second-in-command, who was one of the speakers in the opening rally too…

Moussa Abu Marzouk (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

And the head of the Women Secretariat at the Lebanese resistance Hizbollah group…

Lebanese resistance spokeswoman (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

And Rose Genle, the mother of a 19-year-old UK soldier who was killed in Iraq, denounced Blair for sending British youth to die for a war based on lies in Iraq…

Mother of killed UK soldier denounce the war (Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Click on the cartoon below to download a paper, the Center for Socialist Studies distributed tonight, on the future of political democracy in Egypt…

Down with Mubarak

Mar
30
0

Video: NYC Anti-Mubarak protest

Here’s another video of the NYC anti-Mubarak’s constitutional amendments protest, recorded by Sherif Sadek… (Thanks Shehab)

Mar
29
0

Police torture family in Giza

Two weeks ago, a Giza police force from Warraq Police Station broke into the house of 43-year-old Fekri Mohamed Abbas at 2:30am, and tortured him, his wife and children, searching for hash. The torture not included the usual beatings with fists, kicks and whipping with sticks, etc… but the police forced the citizen’s wife and daughter to urinate on one another…!

Click on the cartoon below to read the full report in Arabic…

Mubarak's police

Mar
29
0

Rumsfeld torture suit dismissed

From the BBC…

A US court has dismissed a lawsuit against former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld over claims prisoners were tortured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The court accepted that the nine men who sued had been tortured – and detailed the torture in its ruling.
But Judge Thomas Hogan ruled the five Iraqis and four Afghans did not have US constitutional rights, and also that Mr Rumsfeld was immune from such suits. …
The nine men suffered abuse including being:
* hung upside-down and slapped until they lost consciousness
* stabbed with knives
* subjected to electric shocks
* deprived of sleep by loud noises and bright lights
* grabbed by aggressive dogs
They also were subjected to sexual humiliation.
None was ever charged with a crime.

Click on Latuff’s cartoon below to read the full report…

US War Criminal