Tag Archives: “Human Rights Violations

Change for Egypt

Protest in Tahrir Square
Photo by: AlJazeer


Soon after large demonstrations started in Egypt on January 25th, support poured in across Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter for Egyptians seeking freedoms, a better future and asking Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to immediately step down.

Protestors had gathered in Tahrir Square and said they would not leave till Mubarak he had given up his 30 year position as President of Egypt. As time passed, the crowd grew. The numbers following via Facebook and Twitter also grew. (#Egypt #Jan25)

Many of the demonstrators were tweeting and texting directly from their locations and also giving information of what would be going on the following hours and days. In today’s fast-paced Internet world, picture uploading, video uploading, texting, blogging and sharing information is instant and with the world’s changing times, this allows millions of people to know instantly what is going on across the world and to alert others.

Egypt’s government has in its constitution a law, the “Emergency Law” which, among other things, gives the government the right, at its discretion to shut down the Internet and on January 28th, Internet Service Providers were told to cut services.

This “Emergency Law” has been in place nearly all of Mubarak’s time in office. This law is one of many grievances the people have with the Egyptian government and it was recently extended to remain another two years. When the law is enacted, it gives the government the right to arrest people without cause, hold prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly and more. At the time Internet was cut, most mobile phone services also were disabled especially text messaging. This greatly handicapped the ability not only for Egyptians to communicate internationally but also with one another in the country.

Until February 1st, the protestors mostly were peaceful. Tahrir Square remained full of protestors waiting for President Mubarak to step down. News had come that he had sworn in a Vice President which was a first in the country in over 30 years.

However, on the 1st, Mubarak made a speech on State T.V. which played on a large screen for all to see in the square. He stated he would not seek another term as president in the upcoming elections. The people quietly watched his entire speech and closer to the end he stated he would not be willing to step down before the end of his term in September, later this year.

On the ground in Tahrir Square and close by violence grew as the crowd became angry. There became a rise in violence and coverage of this was being shown internationally soon after the world had viewed not only this speech by President Mubarak but also a speech by President Obama on his thoughts concerning the situation in Egypt.

The rise in violence around Tahrir Square grew as pro-Mubarak groups grew larger in the square and clashes between them and the anti-government group became more violent causing a growing number of injuries and fatalities.

The following day as journalists were covering the clashes, they themselves became the targets of violence. They were being harassed, beaten up, having their equipment confiscated, being arrested, vehicles or teams attacked and as this grew increasingly worse, some were forced to leave for their safety and others went into hiding to continue reporting but to protect themselves and their crews.

This same day, Internet service began to slowly return across the country and as this happened, updates from Egyptians started to come in on Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other sources. These updates showed personal accounts of what had been happening around Egypt and confirming an even greater desire for freedom but also confirmed the fact journalists were being targeted on the ground, in hotels and around the country. Egypt’s government, it appeared, did not want the continued coverage of what was going on in the streets of Egypt during this crisis.

The question was, why?

Was the fear this coverage was making Egypt look bad internationally or was the fear the international coverage and the feedback it was getting influencing Egypt’s youth, inciting more displays of protests? Whatever the reasoning, the amount of international journalists in the country was greatly diminishing and those remaining were not being able to cover the revolution on the streets, the people, Tahrir Square up close as they had been doing, they now needed to look out for their safety and cover the crisis from afar.

The fact is though, covering the situation in Egypt is extremely important. It is extremely important to see the crisis and transformation as it unfolds. It’s more truthful and honest to see it from the eyes of the people and the government’s reaction and the angles there in Egypt and to have those views involved.

Egypt’s crisis and this transformation as some view it or revolution as it is turning out to be is not just a small event or something that will soon pass. It is much larger and significant.

Egypt has a population of more than 80 million people, the largest population in the 22 Arabic speaking countries.

Although the overthrow of Tunisia’s president in December ignited many frustrations and long held grievances of the citizens in other countries across the region, eyes are now on Egypt and at the moment, the leaders of Jordan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere are looking at their own government and making tremendous changes and reforms to try to prevent many of the same actions. Protests are currently taking place.

As for the U.S. and its involvement in this crisis, of course there is a great deal of concern and the crisis in Egypt has great significance to the U.S. We have many Egyptian-Americans living in the United States and many have called this their home for generations but still, Egypt is their home as well. Compassion must always be shown not only to our fellow Americans but, all others.

What would you go to a demonstration for? What freedom would you not be willing to give up?

Much of what the Egyptians are protesting for, Americans not only have but take for granted. Fair elections, presidential term limit restrictions, freedom of speech and assembly and the right these freedoms can’t just be taken away at the whim of the government (like what is currently happening in Egypt and has been over the past 3 decades due to “Emergency Law”).

What is the United State’s position on making Mubarak step down being President?

This is a political revolution of the Egyptian people. They desire freedom and change in the way their country and government functions. Therefore it is up to Egypt and its people to unfold their new political system, laws and government, not outside countries. True change will come from within.

Since Mubarak has been an ally of the United States, there has been communication between Mubarak and President Obama as well as the Administration and other key officials in Egypt. It is important for the U.S. to point out certain views pertaining to matters that does affect the U.S. as well as what effects U.S. citizens in Egypt, humanitarian efforts and the safety of international journalists. The U.S. has remained a close ally with Egypt for many years and as long as diplomatically possible, this is important to continue without forgetting about the rights of the Egyptian citizens.

However, for the U.S. Administration or U.S. Citizens to act as though we can tell another country’s leader to step down does nothing to aide that country or the real long term efforts toward transformation they are working on. It also hurts our diplomacy efforts with other countries and in the long run would hurt our relations with the government that ends up being formed in Egypt. The U.S. cannot see itself as the strong hold over the world.

The best seat for the U.S. to strategically plan for what needs to be done after Egypt’s transition and the actions that follow in Yemen, Jordan, Syria and other neighboring governments may be in the observation area allowing the people of Egypt and its current government to build its own future out of its current turmoil.

Allow them to have change.

America is more than a country Pt. 1

In reading over the GOP’s “A Pledge to America” agenda, although it seems so much is spelled out, there is really a lot left out or unsaid.

This is taken directly from the pledge.gop.gov website.

“America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.”

Is that what America is today? Is that what outsiders see when they look at America? More importantly, do people living right here in America feel that is what America is about?

These aren’t new words the GOP just came up with. These words are taken from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Declaration of Independence was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson as a formal explanation of why congress voted on July 2nd to become independent of Great Britain.

The U.S. Constitution was put together by 12 delegates of the 13 states. It is the supreme law of the United States and it lays out the frame work for the organization of the federal government, including its legal authority, its relationship with the states, the citizens and everyone else in the country.

Today, an outsider might see America as the best opportunity to start their own business or realize their dreams for their family. Another person may seek out America for medical treatments to save their loved one’s life or to prolong it with quality care. Someone hoping to become an actor or actress may see Hollywood, California as their dream destination. For whatever reason, over many years, there have been plenty of people to seek out their hopes and dreams here in America just as those who wrote the Declaration of Independence back in 1776.

America is a land of many people from all over the world. It’s such a diverse nation and rich with every culture and civilization. Every language is represented with each religion. These are great attributes and strengths that can only be found here in America.

America is also home to the United States Military who has endured missions all over the world in times of war and in times of peace. Wars have been fought here on our own land and our troops have also been called on during invasions of other countries to defend and protect the freedoms of others because one man’s freedom is another man’s freedom. Our troops have been called on to assist during natural disasters when help was needed from all over the world. During peace time, war times, any time, our troops have always stepped up and done what America has asked of them. They have always made America proud.

Many countries have ongoing human rights violations and their civilians endure endless fear, torture, rapes, killings and being on the run just to survive another day. Fleeing from one day to the next is brutal but necessary in Eastern Congo.

In Vietnam, police brutality is being looked at as people are dying while in police custody according to the Human Rights Watch. The HRW has documented 19 cases. According to Phil Robertson, their deputy Asia director, “Police brutality is being reported at an alarming rate in every region of Vietnam, raising serious concerns that these abuses are both systemic and widespread.”

In Thailand, five months after clashes between a group of anti-government protestors and security forces, the Human Rights Watch states the Thai government still uses the state of emergency that was declared on April 7, 2010.

This is allowing the security forces to hold detainees without charges up to 30 days, using unofficial detention facilities which does not give the detainees protection from abuse while being held but does give the guards immunity from prosecution for most acts they could commit.

Many have heard about Darfur in North Africa but may not realize this tragic situation is still ongoing. Millions of innocent people have been affected by this, over 200,000 have died and the numbers are continuing to add up.

What do these situations abroad have to do with America or individuals in America, our local community?

One of the biggest crimes against humanity is discrimination. By seeing another person as being less than one’s self due to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status, disability or for a variety of reasons is discrimination.

Along with discrimination comes disrespect. If a person truly had respect for another, they could not discriminate against them. Therefore to have respect for humanity, other cultures, religions, to be understanding of different races, showing respect for those that are different in any way, would be the first step to eradicate discrimination. Discrimination is most often an act of fear and/or a lack of knowledge and can grow into hate.

Although, America went through the Civil Rights movement in hopes to end discrimination, it still continues. Discrimination is not something controlled by government or laws, it is controlled by each individual and laws are merely in place to uphold the rights of people.

Please see parts 2 & 3 of this article.