Archiv der Kategorie 'Cross the border...'

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.

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…

Square in Barcelona attacked!

Deutsch unten / German below

The squares that seemed so far away from each other and each others problems are getting closer.
While peaceful atmosphere in Tahrir Square in Cairo, extreme heat and still fear of attacks of thugs, one hour ago the news spread that the Square in Barcelona has been attacked and cleared violently by riot police, as also shown in this video. At least 15 injured by sticks and rubber bullets, all media turned of, tents, computers and all stuff confiscated.

A lot of solidarity from Cairo, an messages back from Catalunia: Thanks a lot, we are following what’s going on in your square today…

Die Plätze die so weit voneineinander entfernt schienen, was ihre Probleme und Sorgen angeht, kommen sich näher.
Friedliche Atmosphäre zum Mittagsgebet in Kairo, extreme Hitze und noch immer die Furcht vor Angriffen von baltagiyyas – und dann, vor einer Stunde, die Nachrichte, dass der besetzte Platz in Barcelona von Riot Police gewaltsam geräumt wurde, wie in diesem video zu sehen. Mindestens 15 Verletzte durch Schlagstöcke und Gummigeschosse, alle Übertragungen in Internet abgebrochen, Zelte, Computer und alle sonstige Habe beschlagnahmt.

Viel Solidarität aus Kairo! Und Nachrichten zurück aus Katalonien: Vielen Dank, wir verfolgen was bei Euch geschieht…

picture: tppp/twitpic, riot cops in barcelona

Update1 (1am, may 28): Repeated messages on Twitter about one of the protesters in Barcelona severely injured, has been operated, now waiting for news – more good videos showing the brutality of the police here / Nachricht über Twitter, dass einer der Protestierenden in Barcelona von der Polizei schwer verletzt wurde, er wurde operiert, Warten auf Nachrichten wie es ihm geht – hier noch mehr gute Videos die das brutale Vorgehen der Polizei zeigen

Update2: Great video of people taking back the square and throwing police out!

Tahrir in Madrid

Wow! The Revolution is spreading! Now Madrid looks like Cairo
May they be as succesfull as the egyptians were…

Wow! Die Revolution breitet sich aus! Jetzt sieht Madrid wie Kairo aus…große Freude darüber hier.
Hoffen wir, dass die Spanier_innen ebenso erfolgreich wie die Ägypter_innen sind…


Best of SCAF I: SCAF and the Black Bloc

deutsch unten / german below

Since it created its own facebook page in february the Egyptian Armed forces regularly public their announcements there.

Today SCAF and the Black bloc

In its announcement without number the Surpreme council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) writes:

„That right to demonstrated is guaranteed as long as the demonstraters not resume to non-Egyptian demonstration cultures that enter the country from outside, such as to wear black uniforms during demonstrations“

No the big question: Is this a really good fake or it it a real one?

Seit sie im Februar ihre eigene Facebook-Seite bekommen hat, veröffentlicht die ägyptische Armee regelmäßig Erklärungen dort.

Heute: SCAF und der Schwarze Block

In ihrer Erklärung ohne Nummer schreibt der Militärrat (SCAF):

„Das Recht zu demonstrieren wird gewährleistet solange die Demonstrierenden nicht auf nicht-ägyptische Demonstrationskulturen zurückgreifen, die von außen ins Land gelangen, wie sich bei Demonstrationen einheitlich schwarz zu kleiden.“

Nun die große Frage: Ist das eine richtig gute Fälschung, die jemand auf die offizielle SCAF-Seite gepackt hat? Oder tatsächlich echt? Man weiß ja nie was man dem Militär so zutrauen kann…

Fights about a the flag

Fights along the Israelian border in Syria and Libanon, many people shot, more injured, Israelian tanks entering Libanon and Syria (watch AlJazeera or any other news channel to get the information about things going on there) – a bloody Nakba-day as the day of the foundation of Israel is called in the countries around. And bloody also in Cairo: There, a few thousand mostly young people gathered in the afternoon in front of the israelian embassy. News reports say that they wanted to break in and wanted to burn the embassy or take down the flag, other say ppl wanted to enter because the riot-police had brought three protesters there they had arrested before.

Around 9 pm the police and armee started shooting teargas and live ammunition, later the army went in with tanks. Some protesters throw stones, according to the Health ministry over 350 are injured, many by bullets, others suffered problems due to the high amount of teargas. There were reports about two dead protesters last night, one shot in the head, one killed by a CSF-car. This morning, news agency AP spoke about 3 persons killed. Al-Jazeera reports one protester, Atef Yehya, was shot in the head and remained in critical condition, while another, Ali Khalaf, was shot in the abdomen and believed to be stable.

The army arrested about 200 people during the fights and the night, one woman, saying she was the only female, got free. According to her, also a 8-year-old boy was arrested. One of the arrested is the blogger Tarek Shalaby.

There is lot of material about the happenings in front of the israelien embassy online:
Blogposts from Zenobia and 3arabawy (there also a lot of photos and videos) an interesting video about the happenings, fotos and videos also found on the facebook page of Gigi Ibrahim. Tarek Shalawy broadcasted live till he was arrested.

From Cairo to Gaza (and back)

Deutsche Version unten / German below

Several thousand activists prepared the last days to travel to Gaza on Friday or Saturday for the 15th of may, the so-called Nakba-day (catastrophe), anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel. Palestinian activists had called for a „third intifada“, protesters from different arab countries, especially Egypt and Tunisia, wanted to join to support them.

Friday several political groups called for a „march of unity“ on Tahrir Square after the violent clashes between copts and radical muslims in Imbaba last week. But there wasn‘t much seen of this in Tahrir that Friday, instead, palestinian flags and chants against Israel and for the freedom for Palestine everywhere.

Saturday morning, at 9 am, busses were planned to leave Tahrir Square to bring protesters to Gaza. Several thousand already gathering two days earlier on Sinai. But the Egyptian army closed the borders. A few ones passed to Gaza, most peoples who tried to get there Friday and Saturday came back ’cause they couldn‘t enter.

Around 100 gathered at the Israelian embassy in Cairo in the afternoon. The embassy is situated in the highest floor of a half-rotten building near Cairo University Bridge, only a small flag on the top of the building can be seen. Young men and women, many of them just back from Rafah, shouted against Israel and the army who was standing between them and the embassy. „We want to burn the embassy“, „we want to support our brothers in gaza but the army is standing between us“, „Allahu akbar“. A self-drawn israelian flag is burned. Around 7pm it is getting more quiet, people tired from shouting and the long day on the road…

Einige Tausend Aktivisten aus Ägypten haben sich während der letzten Tage vorbereitet, Samstag in Richtung Gaza zu reisen, für den sogenannten Nakba-Tag (Katastrophentag) am 15. Mai, dem Gründungstag des Staates Israel. Palästinensische Aktivisten hatten für diesen Tag schon vor Wochen zu einer „dritten Intifada“ aufgerufen, Protestierenden aus verschiedenen arabischen Ländern, viele aus Tunesien und Ägypten, wollten hinreisen um die Palästinenser bei ihrem Aufstand zu unterstützen.

Für Freitag hatten verschiedene politische Gruppen zu einer „Demonstration der Einheit“ auf den Tahrir-Platz gerufen, damit sollte der Zusammenhalt zwischen Christien und Muslimen gezeigt werden nach den gewaltsamen Zusammenstößen zwischen Kopten und radikalen Muslimen in Imbaba letzte Woche. Doch von der Demonstration der Einheit war am Freitag nicht viel zu sehen – statt dessen quoll der Platz über von palästinensischen Flaggen (deutlich mehr als ägyptische!), überall erschallen Rufe gegen Israel und für ein freies Palästina. Das Publikum ist ein deutlich anderes als sonst an den Freitagen auf dem Platz: deutlich mehr Männer, älter, subjektiv deutlich aggressiver und weniger tolerant als bei den Tahrir-Demonstrationen der letzten Zeit.

Samstag morgen sollten zahlreiche Busse morgens um 9 Uhr vom Tahrir-Platz aus Richtung Gaza fahren, in die Grenzstadt Rafah. Einige Tausend Protestierende hatten sich nach Agenturangaben schon zwei Tage zuvor auf der Sinai-Halbinsel versammelt. Die ägyptische Armee rief die Protestierenden jedoch auf, von der Fahrt nach Gaza abzulassen, untersagte den Bussen die Abfahrt und schloss die Grenze. Von denen die auf anderem Weg nach Rafah gefahren waren, kamen am Samstag viele, meist ziemlich frustiert, zurück.

Etwas hundert Demonstrant_innen versammelten sich vor der israelischen Botschaft am Nachmittag. Die Botschaft ist im obersten Stockwerk eines brüchigen Gebäude nach der Cairo-University-Bridge gelegen, einzig eine Flagge weit oben ist davon zu sehen. Junge Männer und Frauen, viele gerade aus Rafah zurück, rufen laut Slogans gegen Israel und die Armee, die mit zwei gepanzerten Fahrzeugen und einer größeren Anzahl von Soldaten zwischen ihnen und der Botschaft steht. „Wir wollen die Botschaft anzünden“, „wir wollen unseren Brüder in Palästina helfen, aber die Armee steht zwischen uns“, „Gott ist groß“. Eine selbst gemalte israelische Flagge wird verbrannt. Später wird es ruhiger, die Leute sind heise, müde vom Schreien und der weiten Fahrt…