Sunday, February 6, 2011

6 February 2011


Egypt = Protests against police brutality and President Mubarak continued this week, despite Egypt’s prior attempts to quash the demonstrations by using live fire against civilian marchers and instituting a nation-wide internet blackout. Egyptian security forces, including the police and the Special Police, have been detaining and abusing Egyptian citizens, activists and journalists, as well as international activists and journalists in an apparent attempt to cover up or at least minimize the reporting of the protests. On Friday, security forces raided a Law Center in Cairo, detaining 30 people including two Amnesty International staff and local human rights activists. (AI, ICTJ)

Gambia = YAY!! 24 communities in Gambia’s Upper River Region have officially abandoned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). (AA, GRD)

Uganda = After last week’s murder of David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights activist, his local colleagues are calling on both the Ugandan government and American evangelicals to take responsibility for the role they played in spreading the homophobia and hate which led to Kato’s death. (CHNG)

· You can sign a petition to “Tell Evangelicals to Condemn the Murder of a Gay Activist in Ugandahere.

USA = Closing arguments are expected this week in the Arizona murder trial of 9 year old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul in their Arizona home by anti-immigration extremists. The accused vigilante group leader, Shawna Forde, is a former member of the Minuteman Project and was known to espouse her extremist views to such a degree that she was expelled from some civilian border patrol groups. (IPS, WP)

Bangladesh = Sometimes “village justice” just isn’t – according to the local human rights advocates. 14 year old Hena Akhter died this week after being whipped by her village elders for having “an illicit relationship with a married man.” (GRD)

· The married man in question is her cousin, who found her outside her home in the early evening one night, gagged her with a cloth and beat her senseless. This attack led her cousin Mahbub’s wife Shilpi to accuse Hena of engaging in a relationship Mahbub. This man Mahbub, Hena’s cousin and attacker, had been found guilty of rape before, but the village elders had him marry that woman—Shilpi—to invalidate any shame on Shilpi’s family.

· Justice did not serve Shilpi, forcing her to marry her rapist, and Shilpi used that same justice system, the shalish—a village meeting led by the elders (elder men only?)—to get her revenge on her husband Mahbub.

· How absurd that Hena got caught up in the middle of this; that village elders, village ANYONE, would think it reasonable to give 101 lashes to a 14 year old girl who could barely stand from the beating her cousin Mahbub had given her.

· The only way to turn this into a positive is to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government to enforce its own laws, which make these village-level punishments illegal. You can contact the Supreme Court of Bangladesh here, and the Prime Minister here.

European Court of Human Rights = The Court is introducing fees on applications, which many rights groups fear will deter individuals from filing legitimate human rights claims. (PAMB)

Cell Phones = Blood Diamonds? Six African Heads of State are backing a certification plan to track and eliminate conflict minerals from being used in electronic devices, much like the processes that were adopted to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds. The four “dirty” minerals are tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold – regularly used in our cell phones and laptops. This initiative aims to prevent armed groups from reaping the profits of these minerals. (CHNG)

· You can get in on the action, by signing a petition to “Tell the SEC: Keep Conflict Minerals Out of Our Electronics” here.

• The 2nd Annual Women in the World Summit is happening in New York City this coming March 10th-12th. (DB)

• The Draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training is available online here.

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