Geneva – The UN human rights office voiced alarm at reports that the Egyptian military has carried out raids against the offices of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in what would be the first documented incidents of their kind in the country’s recent history.
Egyptians demanding that ruling Military hand over to civilians | Credit: UN
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Egyptian soldiers attacked the offices of several NGOs on Dec. 29, 2011 in Cairo. “The soldiers forced their way in, blocking entrances and exits, and seized computers and files. In some cases, employees had their mobile telephones confiscated.”
Frej Fenniche, chief of OHCHR’s Middle Eastern and North Africa office, said it was the first time his office had heard of a similar raid being carried out against NGOs, noting that “such events had not occurred even under the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.”
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By Paola Valeri*
Rome -“They expected that we were all dead, but we are still alive.” Silvano Sarti talks through a bullhorn to the people gathered in Dalmazia square, in Florence.
National demonstration against racism in Italy © Raluca Tudor | Dreamstime.com
The day before, Dec 13, an Italian man, member of the fascist group Casa Pond, shot dead Samb Modou and Diop Mor, two Senegalese pedlars who were selling their goods in a market. After the shooting, the murderer fled and committed suicide as police cornered him.
Silvano, 86 years old, was a partisan during the Second World War and he is now the president of the Florence section of ANPI (National Association of Italian Partisans).
In his speech, Silvano reminded the protesters that today’s fascists are the same as those he fought 60 years ago–criminals and racists. He also reaffirmed that the partisans are vigilant and ready to defend the Italian institutions born from the antifascist fight in the war.
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Nairobi – South Sudan -the world’s newest country– now faces the danger of a wide-spreading “inter-ethnic” war after increasing armed clashes between two major tribes that took around one thousand lives so far.
UN peacekeepers deployed in Jonglei | Credit: UN
During the last days of December 2011, UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) deployed a battalion of troops in the town of Pibor in Jonglei state, “which is under imminent attack by an estimated 6,000 armed men from one of two feuding communities in the area.”
“The situation in Jonglei is very worrying,” said Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan said. “There are 6,000 armed youth from one of the Jonglei tribes, the Lou Nuer, that is marching on the town of Pibor where another community, the Murle community, are concentrated.”
Jonglei state has been blighted by a series of reprisal attacks between the two communities, which have a history of animosity over grazing land, water sources and cattle raids during which women and children are often abducted.
More than 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed in ethnic clashes in 2011, with Jonglei one of the states worst affected by the violence. Thousands more civilians have been displaced from their homes.
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Russia Today*, 29/12/2011 – Libya is heading into the New Year with new leaders and hopes. But it turns out, as the immediate post-revolutionary excitement fades, the different factions of the former rebels are turning on each other in what may become a competition for power.
**Portrait of Gaddafi in lobby-of Bab al Bahar hotel, Tripoli | Russia Today
Flying high, but still running low – almost two months after the lifting of a no-fly zone over Tripoli, the city’s airport operates far below its capacity. Yet, the passenger traffic keeps increasing every month, as more and more airlines are putting Tripoli back on their flight schedules.
The Tripoli airport is once again buzzing with visitors. Eight airlines have already resumed service; more are expected to follow in the coming months. But while flight controllers and customs officials are back at their desks, it is still the militia who call the shots here. And the rebels themselves admit that the situation is still way too turbulent to cede control to civilian authorities.
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By Michael Meacher*
The final pull-out of US troops from Iraq marks the end or perhaps just one stage of the end, of the biggest military disaster since Vietnam. Every US-UK goal behind the invasion has been lost, in some cases humiliatingly.
Photo source: Geopolitiek-in-Perpectief
Iran, the target for revenge after the sacking of the US embassy in 1979, emerges as a rising regional superpower with its political establishment now in full control of Iraq. The US goal of semi-permanent military bases in Iraq as the custodians of the oil-fields has been abandoned after demands from Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, himself heavily pressurised by Iran.
The US army is being rushed to the exit before Iraq has the security force strength sufficient to protect it against external aggression. Internally, so far from being the ‘sovereign, stable and self-reliant’ state applauded yesterday by Obama, is in fact rent by schism. If this is winning, what would defeat have looked like?.
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By Shahira Amin*
Cairo – A Cairo civilian court has ordered an end to the practice of forced virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons.
**Photo: Mariam Soliman | Wikimedia Commons
Judge Ali Fekry, head of the Egyptian Administrative Court, read out the ruling at noon on Tuesday [Dec. 27] in a courtroom packed with pro-democracy activists and journalists. The crowd immediately erupted in cheers of jubilation and anti-military chants.
Samira Ibrahim, the 25-year-old woman who had filed a lawsuit against the army for ordering the virginity checks, is one of several female protesters who were subjected to the humiliating tests after being arrested by the military during a protest in Tahrir Square on 9 March.
In that demonstration, staged less than a month after President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down, the Egyptian military had appeared to deliberately target the protesters. Soldiers dragged dozens of pro-democracy activists from Tahrir Square and through the gates of the Egyptian Museum.
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By Raúl de Sagastizabal* – Politica Press
Montevideo – The World Trade Organization (WTO) has failed. In December, the Doha Round is turning ten years old, with nothing to celebrate[i]. Formal negotiations of the Round expired in 2005, without any agreement, and informal negotiations stalled in 2008. Indications in December too were that an agreement to liberalize trade among its 153 member countries was eluding.
Source: Politica Press
The policies and practices governing the global world until now have also failed. The first world crisis rustles the fundamentals of market liberalization and mobility of unchecked and non-regulated capital flows, although some people do not seem to hear the sound of the collapse, mainly in Europe, which remains dogged in patching the cracks.
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As a recent uptick in violence vividly illustrates, the fate of militias that ousted Qadhafi’s regime must be carefully addressed lest they jeopardise Libya’s transition, says a new report.
*Photo: Bernd.Brincken | Wikimedia Commons
Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi, the latest report from the International Crisis Group (ICG), examines the challenges stemming from the large number of local forces and militias which were decisive in ousting Qadhafi’s regime but are now becoming a significant threat to the country’s security.
Having swiftly achieved broad international recognition, the National Transitional Council (NTC) quickly became the face of the rebellion. On the ground however, the picture was different, it adds.
“The uprising was highly decentralised with essentially autonomous, self-armed and self-trained military brigades in both east and west and an array of forces in Tripoli. Today, over 125,000 Libyans reportedly are armed and members of well over a hundred militias,” the report adds.
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By Johan Galtung* –TRANSCEND
The church was not as overfilled as it used to be for midnight mass on Christmas eve. But the ritual unfolded as it has done for centuries, around John 3:16 “little bible”, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. And the priest spoke about two parallel Christmases, one spiritual, of the bible, and one material with gifts, food, and licores.
Could there also be two parallel Jesuses, one the Christ, and the other a revolutionary, fighting the Roman Empire and its client elite in the province conquered in 63bC? Matthias Schulz (Der Spiegel 17 2011) has theologians and historians elaborate that thesis, leaning toward the revolutionary Jesus, disturbingly similar to his look-alike and act-alike Che Guevara two millennia later, also fighting an empire, also killed by imperial clients.
One famous problematic quote from the bible sets the tone for this perspective on Jesus: “Do not imagine I have come to bring peace to the earth. No, rather, a sword” (Matthew 10,34).
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New York – The UN General Assembly approved a budget of $5.15 billion for all its activities, including mostly humanitarian aid and peace missions, over the period of 2012-2013. Meanwhile, nuclear powers spend more than 90 billion dollars a year on atomic weapons. The U.S. alone spends over 50 billion dollars annually on this weapon of mass destruction.
*Photo: Benjamin Gimmel - FreePiP (Free Pictures Project) | Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. spending on nuclear arms per year would be enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals on poverty alleviation. Moreover, the number of nuclear powers now exceeds 100.
In fact, in addition to the five ‘only’ declared nuclear states (US, Russia, France, UK and China) there are five European countries hosting atomic arms, 23 nations claiming to rely on U.S. nuclear weapons for their security, more than 40 countries with nuclear power or research reactors capable of producing nuclear weapons, and 24 states who are part of nuclear alliances.
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