Thursday, May 28, 2015

Call for moratorium on carrying out death sentences in Egypt

NCHR visits El-Qanater prison
George Ishaq
George Ishaq, a member of the semi-official Egyptian human rights body ''the National Council for Human Rights'' (NCHR) said Tuesday he is for a three year moratorium on carrying out executions to help ease tensions in the country. Ishaq is a long time opposition activist, who also opposed the government of the deposed president Moahmmed Morsi. His remarks came days after the NCHR's deputy head, Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr, formulated a similar proposition citing the same reasons. Hundreds of Islamists have been sentenced to death over murder and terrorism charges in mass trials that have drawn condemnation by western governments and rights watchdogs. In its annual report issued in April, the London-based Amnesty International said Egypt and Nigeria make up well over a third of the world's total death sentences in 2014, with over 1,000 death sentences recorded in both states last year.

''177 military and civilians killed in Sinai in 2014''

Within the past year 2014, 177 civilians and military have been killed in North Sinai, according to official hospital records, the Egyptian  Ministry of Health announced. According to a statement by Tarek Khater, the undersecretary of the health ministry in North Sinai, the number of those shot and admitted to hospitals — civilians or security forces — in the governorate reached 466.
The statement said that 177 — civilians and security forces combined — were killed, according to hospital records. A security source told the state-owned MENA news agency that in the last six months 70 police officers were killed and 107 others injured in North Sinai.
Egypt's army is currently fighting a campaign against a decade-long militant insurgency in North Sinai. The Islamist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for most attacks against security forces in Sinai.

Tunisia's ''Truth Commission'' begins hearing testimonies

<p>Sihem Bensedrine</p>
Sihem Bensedrine
Tunisia's newly formed "truth commission" announced on Wednesday that it has begun to hear testimony from victims of the country's post-independence dictatorships. Truth and Dignity Commission president Sihem Bensedrine said the compilation of testimony would last two years and that each victim would be granted a hearing of up to two-and-a-half hours.
The panel is made up of human rights activists, representatives of victims' associations and opposition figures under the regime of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was ousted in the revolution, and jurists. Its president Sihem Bensedrine, has a record of more than 20 years as a human rights activist. Victims started on December 15 to apply to the commission, which was set up under a law on "transitional justice" in the wake of Tunisia's 2011 revolution.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Suicide bomber kills 21 in Shi'ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia

Chaos in the Imam Ali mosque in Qadeeh after the attack. (Reuters)

A suicide bomber killed 21 worshippers on Friday in a packed Shi'ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, residents and the health minister said, the first attack in the kingdom to be claimed by Islamic State militants.
It was one of the deadliest assaults in recent years in this part of Saudi Arabia. More than 150 people were praying when the huge explosion ripped through the Imam Ali mosque in the village of al-Qadeeh, witnesses said. A video posted online showed a hall filled with smoke and dust, with bloodied people moaning with pain as they lay on the floor littered with concrete and glass. More than 90 people were wounded, the Saudi health minister told state television.

Islamic State said in a statement that one of its suicide bombers, identified as Abu 'Ammar al-Najdi, carried out the attack using an explosives-laden belt that killed or wounded 250 people, U.S.-based monitoring group SITE said on its Twitter account. It said it would not rest until Shi'ites, which the group views as heretics, were driven from the Arabian peninsula.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Death sentence for ousted Egyptian president Morsi

Egypt court issues preliminary death sentence to Morsi in
Morsi in the courtroom (Reuters)
The Cairo Criminal Court has sentenced the former Egyptian presidnet Mohamme Morsi to death in the case of the 2011 Wadi Natroun prison outbreak, along with Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, his deputy Mahmoud Ezzat, former prliamentary speaker and guidance bureau members Mohamed al-Beltagy, Essam al-Erian and Saad al-Husseiny, in addition to over one hundred other defendants.

The court referred referred the papers of of the case of Morsi and the other leading Muslim Brotherhood figures to the Grand Mufti for review.
 The case had to do with the mass escape that occurred at Wadi Natroun prison during the security void in the early days of the 2011 revolution, enabling several Muslim Brotherhood leaders to escape from prison, among hundreds of other prisoners, including members of the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah, according to the prosecution.