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Monday, November 21, 2011

Egypt, democracy and the military

Reports from Egypt state that there have already been around 70 people injured and three dead as clashes erupted in Tahrir Square again this morning New Zealand time. One particularly disturbing image that has emerged is that of a policeman dragging a dead protestor onto the rubbish as shown below.

While Egypt has had its revolution, they really need to transfer from military to civilian rule soon as they are currently having thousands of military trials that do not have proper rule of law (more than 12,000 since January). Like other countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, we have seen the arrest and persecution of bloggers such as Alaa Abd El Fattah. There has been no investigation into the military's forced 'virginity tests' on protestors. In blogger solidarity with those who are attempting to get the word out in these regimes, I will be updating from time to time on those who are challenging oppression as netizens. It is crucial that we keep up this pressure, particularly as some of the media in this region of change has been compromised - such as the revelation a few days ago that Reuter's reporter for Yemen Mohamad Sudam was working for ruler Saleh at the same time.

In Egypt, SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) has been responsible for some horrendous atrocities, including the running over of Coptic Christians with tanks during a protest, an event that they then tried to position as being the result of Islamists attacking Christians to stroke sectarian violence and legitimize the need for their rule. Fortunately video emerged from these protests that challenged this rhetoric, clearly showing civilians being killed by the army.

If you are interested in the issues surrounding Egypt's elections beginning on November 28th, this episode of the Doha Debates is a good summary of the problems facing Egypt and its more than thirty parties. (As a side, even if you are not interested in Egypt, Tim Sebastian has to be one of the best debating chairs in the world and is probably someone needed for our elections. Worth watching just to see him in action).


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