Archiv für Juni 2011

Blogger in Syria kidnapped

The Syrian blogger Amina Arraf, blogging as Amina Abdullah was kidnapped today, supposedly by Syrian authorities.

Amina and her blog A gay girl in Damascus had become famous during the last weeks of the uprising for her analysis and strong words about the situation in Syria, the hopes and fears of the people. Though she could have left the country (US-citizen) she decided to stay with her father to fight for a better future for Syria. Read her last blog entry she wrote yesterday, probably the reason for arresting her.

UPDATE: One day later a discussion about the identity of Amina started after an article in New York Times who couldn‘t find anybody who has actually met her personally. The picture below, that before was said to show, Amina, seems to belong to another women living in London.

Adding some points:
- The blog, at least this is my impression, is written from somebody who is in Syria, otherwise it could not contain so much „on-the-ground“ information (or somebody would do a great work collecting it!).
- Looking at the current situation in Syria and on what is written on the blog, it is pretty obvious that the blog neither contains all the information about the person writing it nor all the information in it CAN be true. Writing such a blog in these days without changing personal information, dates, places, whatever, would just be really stupid (and life-threatening). Also I would definitely not meet any foreign reporter or talk through the phone when I‘m currently hiding. The same with the photo: I must admit I really wondered when I saw it, but of course if they say it’s here… Now actually I think: I would definitely not put my real pictures on my facebook-page being a blogger in Syria these day.
- The discussion about fiction or non-fiction sounds pretty old-fashioned. All kind of writing, of telling stories is fiction in a way, there is no single reality you can just „print“, instead you are telling are story about it, about part of it, and in telling you change what you are telling about so that both, the story and what the story is about can not be separated, dinstinguished in the end. It’s more about art, about creating a character that is at the same time „artificial“ and based in a web of information, „facts“, thoughts, emotions. Every more or less personal blog works like this – which blog, which portraits would really claim to represent the „whole“ person or the person „as she is“? It is also the creation of a picture of somebody, something? One person can write different blogs, different books, articles, personal or not, none of them would represent „her“ entirely, many people can write one blog like they could write a theatre play or book. And in the same way Aminas Blog can be written by a man, a women, many people together – if Amina is fictional or not, does this really change the information, the thoughts it contains?
- from all that is written on the blog I don‘t guess that the author of the blog would spread false information – except for security. And this I would not only forgive but see as a necesary measure to be able to go on working.

Die syrische Bloggerin Amina Arraf, im Netz Amina Abdullah ist heute in Damaskus entführt worden, vermutlich von syrischen Sicherheitskräfte. Amina und ihr Blog A gay girl in Damascus wurde während der vergangenen Wochen des Aufstandes bekannt für Analysen und treffende Worte über die Situtation in Syrien, die Hoffnungen und Ängste der Menschen. Obwohl sie das Land hätte verlassen können (sie ist US-Staatsbürgerin) entschied sie sich, mit ihrem Vater zu bleiben und für eine bessere Zukunft für Syrien zu kämpfen. Lesenswert ihr letzter Blogeintrag , um die Stimmung in Syrien zu verstehen – der Eintrag, für den sie vermutlich verhaftet wurde.

UPDATE: Es gab Diskussionen über die Identität Aminas nach einem Artikel in der New York Times. Einige Anmerkungen dazu auf englisch oben, und einen ausnahmweise gar nicht schlechten Artikel auf Spiegel Online.

One year Khaled Said II

Es gab einige Machtdemonstrationen in den vergangenen Wochen in Ägypten, aber selten hatten sie die Form, die die heutige Demonstration hatte. Ein Jahr, nachdem Khaled Said von der Polizei zu Tode geprügelt wurde und eine Bewegung auslöste, die als einer der Auslöser der Revolution gelten kann, stehen rund tausend Demonstrant_innen vor dem Innenministerium, das auch die ehemalige Staatssicherheit Amn el-Dawa beherbergte, rufen über Stunden Slogans, tanzen, singen, fotografieren die Polizisten und Angestellten, die aus den Fenstern des Gebäude starren – und besprühen schließlich nicht nur die umliegenden Straßen, sondern das Ministerium selbst mit dem Konterfei des ermordeten Khaled Said. „Unglaublich!“ jubelt eine Aktivistin, „wer hätte je gedacht dass wir das je tun würden?“ Das Gefühl von Triumph ist mit jeder Stunde mehr zu spüren, gegen Abend treffen, nach Arbeitsende, mehr Menschen ein, zudem stoßen noch zwei kleinere Gruppen hinzu, die auf der Qasr el-Nil Brücke eine Mahnwache für Khaled Said gehalten haben.
Eine Gruppe junger Männer fassen sich an den Schultern, beginnen im Kreis zu tanzen und in voller Lautstärke zu singen: „Habt ihr schon vergessen, was wir im Januar mit Euch gemacht haben, ihr Hurensöhne? Wir haben euch zerstört! Wir haben auch eine ins Gesicht gehauen, wie ihr’s noch nie erlebt habt… o-ho, oho-ho, o-ho, oho-ho…Scaf, wir werden nie zulassen, dass ihr das alte Regime wieder installiert! o-ho…“
„Friedlich, friedlich!“ rufen andere, ein paar springen vor und versuchen ihnen den Mund zuzuhalten, sie möchten keine Beschimpfungen. Zeitweise skandieren zwei Gruppen gegeneinander an, die Gruppe mit dem Lied rückt schließlich zur Seite und auf einmal gibt es Streit: ein paar Leute, die offensichtlich nicht zur Demo gehören, schreien die Jugendlichen an, dann sinkt einer zusammen, er hat eine aufs Auge bekommen. Andere springen herbei, helfen ihm auf, versuchen die Ruhe wieder herzustellen. Die Polizei, die an den Zufahrtsstraßen steht, rückt alarmiert näher, bleibt dann aber doch in einiger Entfernung stehen.
Und die Kundgebung geht weiter, bis sie am frühen Abend beschließt, durch die Stadt zum Tahrir zu ziehen. Kaum ist auf dem Platz, gehen alle Lichter aus, in den umliegenden Straßen brennen sie wie zuvor. Fünf Minuten, dann weiter, am Museum vorbei in Richtung Maspiro. Nach und nach wird die Gruppe kleiner. Die verliebenen Demonstrant_innen möchten vor TV-Gebäude ziehen, dort findet seit gestern wieder eine Besetzung statt. Hunderte Mitglieder aufgrund eines Korruptionsskandals wohnungsloser Familie haben dort ihre Zelte aufgeschlagen, um auf ihre Lage aufmerksam zu machen, ihnen angeschlossen haben sich Angehörige der Martyrer der Revolution, die enttäuscht sind vom Gerichtstermin am 3. Juni und fürchten, die Mörder ihrer Verwandten würden nie zur Rechenschaft gezogen.

Fotos und Videos kommen…

One year Khaled Said I

One year ago, june 6th 2010, Khaled Said was murdered by the police on the street, in front of his home in Alexandria. He became the first martyr of the Egyptian Revolution: His death – and the video about it spreading in the internet – was the starting point of the campaign „We are all Khaled Said“, supported by many young people who would not longer accept police violence and torture and the constant oppression of free thought, like blogger Zeinobia who wrote their first blog post a few days after Khaled died, to be seen also in this video that shows the form of protest: young peoples dressed all in black in places all over egypt.

Today vigils will take place in front of the burned NDP building in Cairo and in Alexandria.

At the same time protests have been planned for today. Cause Khaled, even after the revolution was not the last one who died by the hands of security forces: Last week the police tortured a detainee to death in Cairo, protests broke out at Azbakiya Police Station near Downtown, Cairo, when this became known June 3rd.

The week before a police officer shot an unarmed young man in the leg after telling him „your life is not worth a penny“ – the guy as well as his brother and friends were accused of being thugs and the officer was rewarded for his brave behaviour. There was no investigation started.

Khaleds murderers are still free – the court decided recently to postpone the sentencing of the two police officers accused. Like in the case of all the police man who killed protesters during the revolution: Only one was sentenced so far, and this without being him present in court, he had fled before.

The fist groups are calling for a huge march against the policy of the ministry of interiour for next friday.

Virginity tests (and the expat community)

Some days ago CNN published an interview with an unnamed general who admitted virginity tests were conducted on female protesters when they were arrested march 9th, other media followed and published new interviews like the . The following outcry in western media also reached also CairoScholars list, a mailing list for more than 3000 foreigners living in Cairo, mainly from Europe and the US. A discussion started on the (usually completely apolitical) list that not only revealed (one more time) that it is possible or even common to live as a foreigner in Cairo enjoying the beautiful „culture“ or „language“ without being interested at all in politics, the problems or struggles of peoples around: „I‘m living in Cairo for ten years now but I never heard something like this before.“ Or saw, in contrary, this torture cases as a part of Egyptian culture: „We all know this type of discrimination and violence is built into the system in Egypt“.
The discussion also contained nice statement like that in Egyptian law in culture, as we all know, it is not allowed for unmarried men and women to stay overnight together in the same place and that, who will do so, will be arrested and prosecuted. „So the men and women staying in the tents together, if they were Egyptian locals, would have known they were breeching legal boundaries.“ (And it was, then, the army’s right or even duty to „control“ the girls???)
Some complained „as being a woman who has been constantly harassed on the street for the last three years, it bothers me somehow when a news agency like CNN makes a huge deal over Lara Logan or this incident“. Others wondered if this could happen to foreigners too: „my advise is to be aware and alert to all Egyptian laws currently in force, and don‘t assume as a foreigner that you will have a free pass. Not in these days and times.“ Or feared that this „news“ could lead to new protests: „This might shape up to be an interesting Friday. […] the friday protest will more than likely address these new issues.“

Some points on the this and the general discussion on the „news“ about virginity tests:

1. It was not about testing virginity, moral or anything about legal or not. The girls not only suffered this form of rape, but like all the 200 protesters arrested that day brought to the Egyptian Museum were tortured in all ways, beaten, eletrocuted, hair cutted, arms broken and so on. Many of the arrested were brought to military trials afterwards and got between one and three years. (107 were released last week after a very succesful campaign, but some are still in prison). The virginity tests were part of a planned action by the army to arrest and threaten protesters as can be seen well in the latest interview of activist Salwa el-Hosseini in the LA-Times.

2. It is not „new“. The statements of the girls who suffered the virginity tests were published a few days after this happened, march 9th, like the one of Salwa e-Hosseini above. Everybody just a bit interested could know about this. There are lots of more videos and documents about what happened that day: the most famous one from Ramy Essam, who got famous as „singer of the revolution, a video and text statement of journalist Rasha Azab, an very interesting report of theater actor Aly Sobhy, and, for example the statement of Human Rights Watch, released two days after the happenings.

3. The same for all the years before: Who does not know what was going on in Egypt concerning human rights the last ten years, just look in the report of Human Rights Watch about the last years under Mubarak and you get a good impression of the last years before the revolution where one fourth of people who were arrested didn‘t survive this according to egyptian human rights sources and whrere the US-government liked to send supposed Al-Kaida-fighters to send to egypt to let them been tortured.

4. Of course the recent publications (and the unbelievable explanation of this general why army was doing the tests!) brought up a new discussion about that issue also within the movement. But: For the protesters who came and come to Tahrir on fridays this „news“ about the virginity test is nothing new. In contrary, this is the reason people go on prostesting: because they are horribly afraid that the army will now play the role the State Security played before and there will be no freedom of speech, of assembly, of press (the last one is actually lost since a decree from mid-april, that forbids the egyptian media to publish about the army without their approval).

5. What is really disgusting about this discussion is that Salwa, the girl who made this public was called a liar for months by many people – actually there was quite a campaign against her, two weeks ago three psychological doctors „analysed“ her video in TV and concluded that for sure she was lying. And the international media ignored this topic. But now, that an army general admits this form of torture this is considered the prove that it happened and from one day to another it is worth reporting it. Seems that people and especially the media trust more in what a f* general is saying than what female protesters were trying to say for months. You really need the confirmation of the torturers before you believe the raped girls???

CairoScholars, the nice Expat-list, did not publish my email replying to the discussion mentioned below and contained these points and links. Two mails asking for explanation were only answered automatically: Your mail has been forwarded to the editors. Editor of the list is Prof. Samer Ali, University of Texas. Dear Mr. Ali, I‘m still waiting for an answer why this mail could not be published…

Meeting or March: SCAF and the youth

Deutsch unten / German below

In his Statement 61 SCAF invited the „youth of the revolution“ to a meeting for today, june 1th, 8 pm, in Heliopolis. There was a lot of confusion and discussion about going there or not. While some in the internet wondered who could go there (representives of groups, parties etc.) if most of young activists were not part of a group and didn‘t want to be – I‘m an independent, can I represent myself? (Pierre Sioufi) – others stressed it would be important to show up so that not others could speak in their name. Are they crazy, said one activist reading the statement. They want us to put all our names and date and the organizations we are active in! Who will garantue that don‘t arrest all of us then oder later?

Finally many people went. But not to the meeting. About 600 people went to Heliopolis to protest against SCAF-politics right infront of Galaa theatre where the meeting took place. There was not a lot of information from inside: Those who entered had to give their phones (later there were problems about getting them back because they didn‘t know anymore which phone belonged to whom). First note of one guy coming out: Meeting over, people attacking the food. Together with a picture of a long table all in blue loaden with lots of nice food…
Outside a lot of noise and shouting between the two side of the road: People want the leader of the army to go! We said bread, freedom, social justice – and you gave us virginity test! Enough, enough of military rule!
From inside the military area, soldiers are filming and taking photos of the protesters. Beside this, nothing happens. Around eleven the light is turned of in the theatre, some cars leave the place, and the protesters one after the other take their way home…

So far no information what was going on inside. Waiting for news tomorrow – and statement N° 63 about this nice talk with the amazing youth of egypt…

while 3arabawy posted a great video that shows everything you have to know: a talk with the leader of the military uses to look like this

In ihrem Statement Nr. 61 lud der Militärrat (SCAF) die „Jugend der Revolution“ zu einem Treffen am 1. Juni, 20 Uhr ein, in Kairoer Stadtteil Heliopolis. Es gab in der Bewegung eine Menge Verwirrung und Diskussion darüber ob es sinnvoll sei dahin zu gehen oder nicht. Während manche im Netz sich wunderten wer überhaupt dorthin gehen konnte (im Statement ist von Vertretern von Gruppen oder Parteien die Rede) wo die meisten der Aktivist_innen doch unorganisiert sind – Ich bin unabhängig, kann ich mich selbst repräsentieren (Pierre Sioufi) – betonten andere, es sei wichtig dort zu sein damit nicht anderen in ihrem Namen sprechen könnten. Sind die verrückt, sagte ein Aktivist, als er das Statement las. Die wollen dass wir ihnen per Fax all unsere Namen und Daten senden und in welcher Organisation wir aktiv sind! Und wer garantiert uns dass sie uns nicht dann oder später verhaften?

Am Ende sind doch viele gegangen. Aber nicht zum Treffen. Etwa 600 demonstrierten vor dem Galaa-Theater, wo das Treffen stattfand, gegen die Politik des SCAF. Es gab nicht viel Infos, was drinnen vonstatten ging: Die die teilnahmen, mussten ihr Handy abgeben (später gab es Probleme, dieses zurückzubekommen weil nicht mehr klar war welches Telefon wem gehörte). Erste Nachricht von einem der herauskam: Das Treffen ist vorbei, die Leute stürzen sich aufs Essen. Zusammen mit einem Bild einer langen, blau eingedeckten Tafel voll leckerem Essen… Draußen viel Lärm und Sprechchöre zwischen den beiden Seiten der Straße: Die Menschen wollen, dass der Chef der Armee geht! Wir sagten Brot, Freiheit, Gerechtigkeit, ihr gabt uns Jungfräulichkeitstest! Schluß, Schluß mit der Militärherrschaft!
Von dem Militärgelände aus werden die Protestierenden gefilmt und fotografiert. Sonst geschieht nicht viel. Um 23 Uhr geht das Licht im Theater aus, einige Autos fahren ab, die meisten Protestierenden machen sich auf den weiten Weg nach Hause.

Bis jetzt keine Infos über das Treffen außer dass das Militär 30 Minuten redete und niemand sonst sprechen durfte. Warten auf morgen – auf Statement 63 über diese nette Unterhaltung mit der wundervollen Jugend Ägptens…

Während 3arabawy ein großartiges Video verlinkt das alles sagt darüber wie eine Unterhaltung mit dem Obersten der Armee aussieht…

UPDATE (June 2, 6pm):
When one activist got in a police control on the way back (before curfew!) police found according to known blogger Gigi Ibrahim this sign with her, saying „The army ist not the red line, the people are the red line“. Police searched the car, told her „you are going dawn a dark way“ – and burned the sign in front of her.
Auf dem Heimweg wurde eine Aktivistin von der Polizei kontrolliert, diese fand bei ihr der Bloggerin Gigi Ibrahim zufolge dieses Plakat, das sagt: „Nicht die Armee ist die rote Linie, sondern die Menschen“. Die Polizei durchsuchte das Auto, sagte: „Du bist auf einem sehr dunklen Weg“ – und verbrannte das Plakat vor ihren Augen.