Posts Tagged ‘Dictatorship’
“The only man to protest on Saudi Arabia’s day of rage has suffered in prison, his family say.
Khaled al-Johani was arrested minutes after going to the courthouse in Riyadh and giving a BBC interview in which he called for democracy and described the country as a big jail.
His family have now told the BBC that they were not allowed to see him for the first 58 days of his incarceration. And when they did see him, says his brother, Abdullah al-Johani, their concerns increased.
“He has lost a lot of weight. The situation is sad and he is depressed. He doesn’t have any of his own clothes and we can’t give him food or money.”
Khaled al-Johani is one of more than 160 dissidents who have been arrested by the Saudi authorities since February, according to Human Rights Watch.
On Tuesday a judge in Jeddah sent 40 people, charged with instigation and calling for protests against the ruler, to face a court that specialises in security and terrorism cases.
The interior ministry spokesman, General Mansour Sultan al-Turki is unapologetic.
“Saudis…do not have anything to demonstrate for. The Grand Mufti has talked about this and [protesting] is un-Islamic behaviour.” “
In an oppressive dictatorship, like Saudi Arabia, only the boldest dare to speak out, Khaled al-Johani was one of them.
Now he’s been arrested and has vanished, Dana Kennedy reports:
“Khaled al-Johani, who teaches religion to elementary school students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is neither a revolutionary nor an activist, according to his brother. But even though no one in the country knew it at the time, the 40-year-old father of a 5-year-old autistic boy was imprisoned and cut off from his family after speaking out at last month’s planned “day of rage.”
His frustration over repressive Saudi laws and a lack of help from the government for his autistic son led him to show up at the “day of rage” one month ago today and let loose his anger in front of a BBC television crew, according to his brother. Because of the heavy police presence that squelched the March 11 protest, Khaled al-Johani was almost the only person there, Ali al-Johani told AOL News via Skype from Riyadh today.
“I’m here to say we need democracy, we need freedom,” Khaled al-Johani said to the surprised BBC crew, which wasn’t expecting him and didn’t find his name on the list of activists from Riyadh.
“We need to speak freely. We will reach out, the government doesn’t own us. I was afraid to speak, but no more. We don’t have dignity, we don’t have justice! I have an autistic child, and they didn’t provide me with any support,” he said.
Khaled al-Johani said on camera that he knew he’d be arrested — and he was correct. After he returned to the home he shares with his wife and four young children, Saudi police arrived and arrested him in front of his family, Ali al-Johani said. He hasn’t been heard from or seen since. “
Listen to more at the Where is Khaled channel on YouTube.
Over in Egypt events are moving on a pace, with the removal of the symbols of the Mubarak period, the New York Times reports:
““Egyptians have adopted this habit for centuries — since the time of the pharaohs, when the image of pharaoh was everywhere,” said Mr. Sabry, doing a little walk-like-an-Egyptian maneuver with his hands and head. “Corrupt people should not be honored. I do not want to delete 30 years of Egyptian history, but I want to remove that name.”
The name and face have been scraped away piecemeal since Mr. Mubarak was overthrown Feb. 11 after three decades as president. Mr. Sabry’s lawsuit, filed in Cairo Expediency Court on March 1, seeks a court order to mandate “deMubarakization” in one fell swoop.
The idea draws widespread, but not universal, approval. A brief legal hearing on the issue on Thursday ignited a heated skirmish outside the downtown Cairo courthouse between those seeking to preserve the Mubarak name and those wanting it expunged.
Given that the once universal billboards bearing Mr. Mubarak’s portrait have largely come down, the sudden profusion of his picture held aloft by more than 100 supporters seemed alien. “
Just as a popular revolt in Egypt succeeded in removing Mubarak events are moving on apace in Iran.
Like Mubarak, the dictators in Tehran resorted to brutality and teargas to stay in power, as the BBC reports:
“Thousands of opposition supporters have clashed with security forces in the centre of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Police used tear gas and detained dozens rallying in solidarity with uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. There was one report of a death in Tehran.
The BBC also received reports of similar protests being held in the cities of Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz.
Earlier, the police placed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi under house arrest, according to his website.
It said the move was intended to prevent the former prime minister attending the march in Tehran, which the authorities had prohibited. The road leading to Mr Mousavi’s house was also blocked by police vans.
Fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament and a senior cleric, is also reportedly under de facto house arrest. “
Meanwhile in Syria, the dictatorship there are clamping down on everybody, including bloggers:
“Lawyers allowed into the closed session of the court in Damascus said Ms Mallohi was motionless after hearing her sentence. Her mother, who was waiting outside the court building, burst out crying after being told.
The judge did not give evidence or details as to why she was convicted, they added. However, when she was charged, one official claimed that “her spying led to an attack against a Syrian army officer”.
“Trumping up charges that imply treason as a lesson for others is quite old fashioned,” one human rights activist told the Reuters news agency. “Sadly, the regime has not learnt any lessons from Tunisia or Egypt.”
There has so far been no comment from the Syrian authorities.
Ms Mallohi, the granddaughter of a former minister, has already served one year of her sentence, as she has been in custody since late December 2009. She was held without charge for the first nine months.
Last month, the state security court sentenced Abbas Abbas, a 69-year-old left-wing activist, to seven years in jail.
The BBC’s Lina Sinjab in Damascus says Ms Mallohi’s conviction comes at a time of political upheaval in the region, with popular protests in Tunisia and Egypt which were largely organised through social networking websites and blogs.”
She was jailed for five years, without any evidence.
Update 1: Over in Bahrain there were protests too:
Update 2: Also Hamas are none too keen on election, as Haaretz relates:
” But Hamas, which holds power in the Gaza Strip, immediately said it would move to prevent such a vote from taking place in the coastal territory.”
Update 3: Not forgetting Algeria:
“Hundreds of youths have clashed with security forces during protests in the northern Algerian town of Akbou.
Police reportedly used tear gas and batons to drive back crowds protesting over unemployment. About 30 people, most of them protesters, were hurt.
In January Algeria was the first in a string of countries to see street protests, as people rallied against high food prices and unemployment.
Several people were killed as unrest spread across the country.
The sporadic protests have been continuing since early January.
On Saturday, thousands of people took part in protests in the capital, Algiers, demanding the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, but were dispersed by riot police.”
The problems of Egypt go beyond a single President or his VP.
And the rot goes much deeper, just considering two aspects should make that clear, State violence and economic power.
Violence against ordinary Egyptians has been a fact of life from before the time of Sadat’s repression in the 1970s/80s. There have been decades of violence, censorship and State interference. Most economic changes since the 1970s have benefited a very small minority of rich Egyptian families, the military, security services and their allies.
Fixing Egypt, and offering ordinary Egyptians a taste of freedom and more importantly a degree of financial security, is going to be very difficult.
I do not see it succeeding without a real and concious process of wealth distribution, from the corrupt elites to the people of Egypt.
That necessary change seems unlikely to occur.
For the moment the army is in charge, they have a conflicted role. On the one hand as instruments of change and on the other, how they propped up Mubarak’s repressive regime.
We should not forget they were the major backers of Mubarak and without them he could not rule.
So the question is, what now and will the Army manage to bring in any real change?
I am not so sure, as the vested interests in the ruling clique are against real reform, against real change.
They might usher in a new constitution with all of the trappings of bourgeois democracy, even initiate the first proper elections for over 60 years, but will that be sufficient?
The deep seated problems of Egypt go further than elections: endemic corruption, a lack of development, an almost non-existent welfare state and infrastructure, and generational poverty are just a few of those tangible issues that have to be dealt with.
Mubarak is history, and not before time, but let us wish Egyptians good luck with their struggles, the real problems facing Egyptians are ahead.
Hosni Mubarak like so many with power, can’t give it up and certainly can’t take a hint, from the Egyptian people.
He is hoping the longer he holds on, that the greater the chance of the protests dissipating and him being able to fiddle the elections in September, as he and the ruling regime have done for decades.
I imagine that his stubbornness will only invigorate those that have sensed the taste of freedom, without the 30 years of his dictatorship and the emergency powers.
Hosni Mubarak is clearly worried that once he leaves the Presidency he’ll be fair game and liable for assassination, as often happens with dictators and despots, but there’s a broader picture here because in many ways he is a figurehead for a wider regime with corruption and repression embedded in it.
Those factors and the dire economic circumstances faced by so many Egyptians fuel the protests.
The sooner that the Egyptians are rid of Mubarak and his henchmen the better, the sooner ordinary Egyptians can live without the threat of jail, a beating or lifelong poverty the better.
Go Mubarak, go now.
Update 1: Kellie has more.
Eight days into the revolt in Egypt and we are seeing Mubarak marshal his forces against the peaceful protesters.
Mubarak and his clique were caught off guard by the speed and vigour of the uprising against their corrupt rule, initially they were unsure what to do and just employed the Interior Ministry troops.
They were insufficient and thankfully overwhelmed, so then the military came into view, but again they were unsure precisely which side to commit to.
Mubarak has been pressurised both internally and externally, yet he’s not buckling, he’s clinging to power as best he can. He doesn’t want to go.
Mubarak assumes he can’t fully rely on the army, so he has brought in members of his party, the NDP and bolstered by those who benefited from his misrule they are now mounting the reaction that we see on TV.
Mubarak’s probable calculation is that they will be sufficient to cower the people’s revolt in Egypt, allow him to employe the Interior Ministry troops again and maybe the Army (despite their promises), and hold on.
The violence, instigated by Mubarak’s supporters, could give him a pretext for a clampdown, a violent and bloody one. He’s not held on to power for 30 years to give it up overnight and it would be naive to think that he would, he will cling on to the end.
But whatever happens Mubarak must go.