State control

Some 2,000 demonstrators again challenged the ban on protests in Algiers on Saturday. "On a marre de ce pouvoir" (we have had enough of this government!), they cried. An older man in the crowd told me, "What we want is a change of the system not a change in the system." I wish I could share the pictures I took of the protest, but my camera was stolen while I was surrounded by a debating circle of those for and against the march. Later, I am told that cameras are reportedly turning up at a nearby police station. A friend at the march, displaying typical Algerian hospitality, ran to the Rue Hassiba ben Bouali to buy me a replacement disposable camera. I filled it with more pictures – a woman in her sixties trying to inspire the marchers by singing at the top of her lungs; rows and rows of riot police banging their batons against their shields, injuries to the leg of a young protester – but that camera was then confiscated by hostile undercover policemen. So I will try to offer a few pictures in words. Those cannot be taken away.

The 14 February marked the 10th anniversary of the National Action Charter, which is considered to be the blueprint of the Bahraini reform project. In 2001, the charter was accepted almost unanimously by eligible voters, with the aim of leading to a constitutional monarchy. This chapter in Bahrain's history was supposed to end decades of authoritarian rule, emergency law and repression of political activists. The results are mixed – but the main outcome is superficial democracy. The state wanted to use this year's anniversary to create a pompous spectacle to legitimise the ruling family. Organised public rallies and parties, as well as glossy newspaper ads and posters, were pervasive.

Lawyer Amie Bensouda on Thursday accused Madam Begonaballes Teros Sanchez, director of Yolocamba Solidaridad, a Spanish-based NGO, of fundamental rights violation for instigating the prosecution of the two top officials of Gamcotrap, local women's rights NGO. Gamcotrap executive director Dr Isatou Touray and programme coordinator Amie Bojang Sissoho are standing trial at the Banjul Magistrates' Court for allegedly stealing 31, 000 Euros from the Spanish NGO. Update to Gambia: Trial of Dr. Isatou Touray & Amie Bojang-Sissoho adjourned to 22 December

The Iranian regime has been accused of hijacking the death of a young pro-democracy protester killed during rallies in Tehran on Monday. A family member of Saane Zhaleh, a 26-year-old theatre student at Tehran University of Arts, told the Guardian that the Iranian authorities had launched a campaign to depict the pro-opposition protester as a member of the government-sponsored basiji militia who had been killed by what they described as terrorists.

Military police arrested at least 37 human rights defenders and activists since January 31 and held them from periods ranging from 12 to 48 hours. On the afternoon of February 3, military police, accompanied by a uniformed policeman and plainclothes security officers, raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), a human rights organization, and arrested 28 Egyptian and international human rights researchers, lawyers, and journalists. The HMLC also houses the FDP, which provides legal support to arrested protesters and document the violations against them. The coalition set up emergency telephone numbers ahead of the planned January 25 demonstration so that they could dispatch lawyers when people called in to report that they had been arrested. The HMLC premises were also used for meetings by the April 6 Youth Movement. Update to Egypt: Amnesty staff released but Egyptian activists still detained

Les résultats du référendum sur l'indépendance historique du Sud-Soudan montrent que 98,83 pour cent des habitants sont en faveur de la sécession. Si la région accédera officiellement à la souveraineté le 9 juillet 2011, il reste malgré tout de nombreux défis à relever. 
Les observateurs estiment que ces questions doivent être abordées dès maintenant par les deux partis au pouvoir : le Parti national du Congrès (PNC), au Nord, et le Mouvement de libération du peuple soudanais (MLPS), au Sud. 

Two members of an Amnesty International fact-finding team were among five human rights workers and journalists freed by Egyptian military police late on Friday night after a day and half in detention. The five were among some 35 Egyptian and international human rights activists, lawyers and journalists arrested Thursday when military police raided the offices of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo. Update to Egypt: List of detained lawyers & activists from Hisham Mubarak Law Centre in Cairo

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, reported yesterday that several international and Egyptian human rights activists, journalists and lawyers were picked up in a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo. The activists are currently detained at an unknown location in Egypt, and no news has been heard from them since their arrest. According to Bouckaert, the arrests are part of a clear campaign against independent eyewitnesses of the violence in Egypt, including journalists and civil society activists.” If you know more names tell @bouckap!#jan25http://is.gd/FS8kG2

If the military is ever to be a legitimate national force, it must side with the protesters against Mubarak’s thugs and the police. These thugs have been ridiculously and mistakenly labeled by right-wing media as “pro-Mubarak demonstrators. This critical junction in the Egyptian Uprising when is the Egyptian Army’s moment of truth. As thousands of unarmed demonstrators are tortured, trampled, firebombed and molested by Mubarak’s thugs, will the military move to protect, or to crush the non-violent democratic movements that have occupied Tahrir Square in Cairo for the last ten days? Following on Paul Amar’s useful analysis (Jadaliyya, 1 Feb 2011) we need to know which faction of which of the Army's branches is ascendant, and where exactly, within these forces, we can energize possible allies.

My birth at the end of July 1967 makes me a child of the naksa, or setback, as the Arab defeat during the June 1967 war with Israel is euphemistically known in Arabic. My parents' generation grew up high on the Arab nationalism that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser brandished in the 1950s. But we "Children of the Naksa", hemmed in by humiliation, have spent so much of our lives uncomfortably stepping into pride's large, empty shoes.

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