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Last Hours Harvest Only in Egypt
The rule of prison, arrests, ever present aggravation, the refusal to allow the establishment of activities and observation, the cutting off of means of subsistence and the aggressive use of farce, courts that make a mockery of justice.  These are the daily issues that human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, writers and civil society activists are exposing to in all of the A
Sunday, March 18,2007 00:00
by THE ARAB PROGRAM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

The rule of prison, arrests, ever present aggravation, the refusal to allow the establishment of activities and observation, the cutting off of means of subsistence and the aggressive use of farce, courts that make a mockery of justice.
 
These are the daily issues that human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, writers and civil society activists are exposing to in all of the Arab countries from the ocean to the Gulf in flagrant violation not only for the international human rights conventions but also for national laws and constitutions
 
In successive two weeks APHRA has become increasingly concerned and has followed up the escalating wave of violence against human rights defenders and reformers these violations have approved by Arab governments which have cooperated effectively in implementing them. It is a sad fact that Arab governments can work together on this but are unable to find agreement on the much more important issues they face.
 
In Egypt a four year prison sentence was given to the blogger Karim Amr. It is in this context that APHRA expresses its astonishment at the continuous implementation of these laws and the repression of freedom of expression. Karim Amr has only used his right to freedom of expression and his imprisonment is an unwarranted act of violence.   
 
And as part of the same issue  there has been support for the sentencing of the journalist Ibrahim Aissa, editor in chief of the independent "Al-Distor" newspaper, in the light of the his criticism of the 26 year presidential reign in Egypt. These sentences are considered violations of local and international guarantees of freedom of expression.
 
Egyptian government policy apparatus works to narrow the operations of civil society in Egypt generally and human rights organisations in particular. Organising any activity requires the agreement of the security apparatus. Activities and their venues, such as hotel rooms and other public places where events are usually held, must be approved in advance. In addition the list of participants must be submitted to the security forces as well as all of the documentation and information to the security.
 
This is all takes place alongside the disappointing constitutional amendments which have not brought about any real change in the structure of Egyptian society in regard to citizen and civil participation in public policy. Also, the lack of real democratic mechanisms makes it difficult for different social groups to express their needs and problems. 
 
This is because the recent constitutional amendments are superficial and do not act effectively either on the citizens’ quality of life or on the equality or political parties or the participation of civil society institutions in building a real democracy.
 
This extends especially to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in spite of the reservations of APHRA to some of their programs and political vision. APHRA believes completely in the right of any group of individual to form organisations to practice their rights in absolutely free expression because this is the only solution to the repression of all political groups in the framework of the political mechanism. This includes the right of groups that have not passed one day opposing these arrests of activists and the maltreatment and throwing in prison of opposition members and public witnesses by the powers.  
 
Unprecedented events are taking place in Egypt now. Funds have been provided to the administrative side of the Ministry of Social Affairs by the governorate of Giza. This has acted to narrow the practice and create pressures on groups within the Giza governorate. Many visits by this Ministry have taken place to the headquarters of Afro- Egyptian human rights organisation as a result of the commentary of posters detailing torture and other human rights abuses 
 
In a different development, government voices have been raise to close down 22 web sites of civil institutions and bloggers that have been documenting violations and other groups that aim to establish human rights. They depict Egypt through the spread of news and documentary films of torture in Police departments. The program for the awareness of the torture of Egyptian citizens is considered damaging for the image of the country.
 
APHRA indicates that in relation to the extended struggle that has gone on for many years in Egypt and that the pillars for the obstruction of political parties, unions and groups still exist. In this way the emergency law is used to seize unions supposedly for the guarding of the country’s security through the courts’ exclusion of social groups, parties and by issuing accusations against the depiction of political and legal life in Egypt. In this way torture has taken place against citizens in police departments without reason or because of false reasons. The program also affects the forming of groups of student elections and membership clubs for student activism in the context of the 1979 law that forbids any political activism in Egyptian Universities.
And from another angle, the security forces ban a number of journalists and have withheld the issuing of licenses to political establishments. Their work has been falsely depicted by the national party, the government party.
 
Recently APHRA has been downsized as a result of alarm bells caused by the continuation of this difficult situation. The whole establishment programme and parties and unions and groups are now working on informing these committees to reveal spontaneous reforming action. There is universal work on the implementation of reform and the gathering of people to carry out what it is possible to implement.

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