Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 15, 2006

More Than 2500 Women Killed in Guatemala

At a Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing yesterday put on in collaboration with Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America, actress Samantha Mathis spoke out against the Guatemalan government’s inadequate efforts to end a recent epidemic of brutal killings of women that is taking place in the country. She cited available data putting the number of women who have been killed in Guatemala just this year at four hundred. In the last five years the number of women murdered in Guatemala is set at more than 2500. What is more disturbing is the brutality with which these crimes are carried out. Many women are kidnapped, and this bodies show signs of rape, torture, mutilation and dismemberment. The nature of these crimes is so heinous that the term femicide, killing women for the sole motive that they are women, is often used to describe the patent hatred of women displayed in these acts. Ms. Mathis described femicide as a “form of domination, power, and control over women [by men] worldwide.” It is in many places, culturally accepted including in Guatemala where the state’s failure to end this horrific pattern of brutality by criminalizing these acts and bringing the perpetrators to justice is a clear violation of women’s human rights.

The Guatemalan government has responded by demonstrating a clear lack of political will to deal with the rising crisis effectively. Despite the staggering number of cases, a small fraction has ever come to trial, and an even smaller number have resulted in conviction. At the briefing the broadcast of a portion of the BBC production Killer’s Paradise clearly documented the police officials’ mishandling of evidence, unwillingness to investigate cases, and implement the judicial process once the potential responsible parties are identified. Instead the government is often inclined to blame the victims, linking women to gangs, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

Hilda Morales Trujillo a lawyer and advocate for families of victims of Genocide underlined the lasting effects of 36 years of conflict and civil war in Guatemala, which have created a culture that tolerates violence. The years following the execution of the Peace Accords in 1996 have led to improved opportunities for women who are leaving their homes in greater numbers to seek out employment or education prospects. However, the increased incidences of femicide reflect a simultaneous backlash against women’s growing independence. Human rights activists and advocates of justice are asking the Guatemalan government for concrete action to end the violence and to establish a rule of law, which does not tolerate or condone such atrocities. Having exhausted all avenues to work with a recalcitrant government, activists for the end of femicide in Guatemala have now turned to international instruments to formulate a potential remedy.

Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Human Rights declared their commitment to work with members of Congress to develop legislative strategies obliging the Guatemalan government to comply with its responsibility in providing security to its citizens.

Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) expressed their concern over this important “bipartisan” issue and committed to working within Congress to put an end to the cycle of violence and brutality against women in Guatemala.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

US Drug Policy in Afghanistan

Escalating levels of violence and corruption in Afghanistan, reaching their zenith since the US-led ousting of the Taliban, have lead to concerns over the burgeoning opium production and the subsequent rise of drug lords and their support of terrorist and anti-coalition activities, as carried out by members of the banished regime. Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, has called for the US to intensify its counterdrug and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, lest the country collapses into a “failed narcotics state.”

Press Release- News Advisory
House International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

For more Information, click here

Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa Elected President of the UN General Assembly

The election of Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa as the president of the UN’s 192-member General Assembly is a clear positive step for the international body, which has been repeatedly criticized for its inadequate representation of women in leadership positions. In the UN’s 60 year history, Shaikha Haya is only the third woman and the first from the Middle East to be elected president of the UN General Assembly. Prior to her post at the UN, she served as Bahrain’s ambassador to France. She was also one of the first two women to practice law in her country since 1975.

For full article, click here

Saddam Hussein Trial Resumes on September 11th

After a three week recess, Saddam Hussein and six co-defendants returned to the courtroom in Baghdad to face charges of crimes against humanity carried out during the Anfal campaign in 1988, in which according to prosecutors, 182,000 against Kurdish perished at the hands of the Ba’athist government. In addition, Saddam and Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali”, face charges of genocide. All defendants face the death penalty.

Since the start of the trial in August, the court has heard testimonies from several Kurdish witnesses to the poison gas attacks during the Anfal campaigns. According to the New York Times, at the trial’s resumption on September 11th, Katrin Elias Michael, a Christian Kurdish freedom fighter now residing in the United States, recalled the scene of poison gas air raids as she had witnessed them: “I saw hundreds of people, not dozens but hundreds of people. They were vomiting and their eyes were watering. They complained of having sore stomachs.” She demanded retribution against not only Saddam and other members of the Iraqi government responsible for the attacks, but also against “all the international organizations or companies which provided the Iraqi regime with [chemical] weapons."

Earlier in August, Saddam refused to enter a plea with the court, and his defense counsel filed a petition claiming the court to be illegal. The court, however, rejected the petition and entered a “not guilty” plea for both the former president and al-Majid, who also refused to plead. Saddam accused the Kurdish witnesses against him of treachery by trying to incite sectarian conflict between the Kurds and Arabs and destabilize the country. The defense argued that the Anfal campaign was carried out during the Iran- Iraq war against Kurdish Peshmerga rebels siding with the Iranian government. Civilians were claimed to have been evacuated before all such attacks.

For full New York Times article, click here
For full New York Times article, click here
For full BBC News article, click here

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In Turkey, does one dare to write?

Columnist and professor, Ralph Reiland, offers a provoking comparison between freedom of speech in the U.S. and Turkey.

Quoting the Turkish Penal Code and data from the Turkish Publishers' Association, Reiland explains the harsh limitations on writers and journalists. With cases against world-reknown writers such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Safak, the author explains the crime and punishment if one is found insulting the character of the Turkish state.

Full text of this article is available here.

Disappointment with the UN Human Rights Council

In this editorial from the International Herald Tribune, Executive Director of UN Watch in Geneva, Hillel C. Neuer, outlines recent failures of the newly established UN Human Rights Council.

Drawing mainly from the Council's response to Israel during the recent war, Neuer attests that the Council is dominated by member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The author argues that this has created biased measures including "one-sided and inflammatory resolutions" during August sessions.

For full text of this editorial, click here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Letter to President Bush from Arab Academics and Democracy Activits

The following is a letter to President Bush from Arab academics and democracy activists, urging him to continue pushing for democratic reforms in the Arab world. To sign on to this letter, email Sherif@islam-democracy.org. The letter was reprinted from the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.

لقراءة النص العربي اضغط هنا :

For Immediate Release: Monday, Sept. 11, 2006

Media: For further information, please contact: Radwan A. Masmoudi, President of CSID, at 202-251-3036 or 202-265-1200. To add your name to the list of signatories, please e-mail name, organization, and country to: Sherif@islam-democracy.org

Open Letter to President Bush re: democracy promotion

Dear Mr. President:
As Arab intellectuals and activists concerned about the promotion of democracy in our region, we urge you to reaffirm—in words and actions—America's commitment to sustained democratic reform in the Arab world. It is our belief that the main problem with U.S. policies in the Middle East (in particular in Iraq, Palestine, and elsewhere) is precisely their failure to live up to America’s democratic ideals of liberty and justice for all. We have been heartened by the strong commitment to liberty you had expressed in your November 2003 speech at the National Endowment for Democracy and then your second inaugural address, when you said that "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."
Despite some initial skepticism, those statements nurtured hope in our region. We realize that democracy is not easily attained and must ultimately come from within. But it can receive encouragement and support, both of which it badly needs today in Arab countries. The minimum support the people of the region yearn for is precisely what you have undertaken in your NED speech: to break with 60 years of US support for non-democratic regimes in the region, and to make that known to the world in unequivocal terms. This would be more consistent with the principles of the United States, which has, since its birth, been intimately connected with the ideals of democratic governance enshrined in its founding documents—ideals that speak to all generations and peoples everywhere.
We know that some in the United States, worried by recent Islamist gains among voters in Palestine and Egypt, are having doubts about the wisdom of pushing for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. These worries are exploited by despots in the region to perpetuate the untenable status quo. However, there is no way to advance liberty without inclusion of all elements that are willing to abide by democratic rules, and reject violence. Democratic participation is the only way to combat extremism and pressure all groups, including Islamists, to moderate their stance in order to maximize their share of the vote. The US should continue to press for an end to regime repression of democratically spirited liberal and Islamist groups, and to emphatically distance itself from such repression and condemn it in the strongest terms whenever and wherever it occurs. We are confident that if Arab citizens are able to have their choice, they will choose democracy, freedom, peace and progress.
A return to the pre-9/11 status quo is not the answer. It will only embolden ruling autocrats, hurt Arab reformers, and damage America's credibility. In the end, it will probably strengthen the very forces that America fears. The shore of reform is the only one on which any lights appear even though the journey demands courage, patience, and perseverance.
Perhaps emboldened by the impression that America is wavering in its support for democracy, some autocrats have recently intensified repression. This makes the need for sustained U.S. and international support and pressure more urgent than ever. The region needs to hear again that the course of freedom and democracy is the only course which America, guided by both interest and principle, will support.
To mention but one case where U.S. influence may do much good, Egypt has lately seen a regime crackdown on opposition activists. In February, the government postponed municipal elections and renewed the emergency law. The regime has not even spared Egypt's venerable judiciary which has steadfastly proclaimed its independence in recent months. And liberal opposition politician Ayman Nour, who was allowed to run in last year’s presidential election and won 7.6% of the popular vote, second behind President Mubarak, was arrested and sentenced in a murky process to five years in jail. The health of Mr. Nour, a dear friend and colleague of many of us, continues to deteriorate. We pray that you will take his case to heart and let the Egyptian regime hear your concerns. Hundreds of other activists (including doctors, university professors, journalists and civil society activists) whose only crime was to express their desire for freedom, continue to languish in jail and suffer torture and police brutality. This brutality often included sexual molestation and public humiliation of women activists and journalists by pro-government thugs.
As you have argued, the war against terror and extremism can only be won by helping Middle Eastern countries reform their closed political systems. As societies become more open, citizens can voice their grievances through legitimate, democratic means, making them less likely to resort to violence. You are right to believe that democracy and pluralism point the way to peace and moderation.
We hope that you will consider our words, recall how much is at stake in the Arab world, and ponder how costly silence and mixed signals can be when freedom is under assault. We entreat you to do everything you can to ensure that a small number of authoritarian rulers will not control the future of more than 300 million Arabs, more than half of whom are not yet 20 years old. Freedom and democracy are the only way to build a world where violence is replaced by peaceful public debate and political participation, and despair is substituted by hope, tolerance and dignity.

Name, Organization, Country

1. Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, USA
2. Aly R. Abuzaakuk, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, USA
3. Sherif Mansour, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, USA/Egypt
4. Khalid Cherkaoui Semmouni, Président of Center Moroccan of Human Rights, Morocco
5. Qamar-Ul Huda, United States Institute of Peace, USA
6. Anwar N. Haddam , Liberty & Social Justice Movement , Algeria
7. Randa Slim, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), USA
8. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, UK
9. Ibrahim M. Hussein, Alliance of Egyptian Americans, USA
10. Najah Kadhim, International Forum for Islamic Dailogue, UK
11. Abdelazim Mahmoud Hanafi, Kenana Center for Research and Studie , Egypt
12. Najib Ghadbian, University of Arkansas, US/Syria
13. Anna Mahjar Barducci, Middle East Media Research Institute , Italy-Morocco
14. Malath Arar , GE Infra, Energy, USA
15. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, International Quranic Center, USA/Egypt
16. Ahmed Shabaan, ICDS , Egypt
17. Abbas H.Rahi, Iraqi Organization for Rehabilitating Society and Environment, Iraq
18. Gameela Ismail, El Ghad Party, Egypt
19. Amir Salem, Justice and Freedom Party, Egypt
20. Mohamad Ibrahim, Noor Association for Social Services, Egypt
21. Emad Farid, El Ghad Party , Egypt
22. Haytham Mouzahem, Independent Researcher and Journalist, Egypt
23. Ibrahim Dadi, Islamic Thinker, Algeria
24. Othman Mohamed Ali, Pharmacist and Islamic Researcher, Canada/Egypt
25. Adel Mohamed, Center for the Study of Islam, Egypt
26. Hamdi Shehab, Alwasiqa Center for Citizenship and H R, Egypt
27. Ahmed Farghali, Alwasiqa Center for Citizenship and H R, Egypt
28. Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, Egypt
29. Mohamed Allawzi, Activist , France
30. Hamdi Abdelaziz, Sawasia Center for Human Rights, Egypt
31. Ghassan Ali Othman, Islamic Researcher, Sudan
32. Mohieb Alarnaoti, Activist, Egypt
33. Safei-Eldin A. Hamed, Alliance of Egyptian Americans AEA, USA/Egypt
34. Marwa Abdelkader Helmi, Activist , Egypt
35. Mohamed Fawzi, Human Association for Development Studies, Egypt
Organizations for identification only (partial list as of June 20)

رسالة مفتوحة إلى الرئيس جورج بوش:

حول تعزيز الديمقراطية
للتوقيع على الخطاب ارسل اسمك و اسم منظمتك و دولتك بالبريد الاليكتروني الى

سيادة الرئيس..

نحن مجموعة من المثقفين العرب والمسلمين المهتمين بالعمل من أجل الديمقراطية في منطقتنا، نناشدك للتأكيد – بالأقوال والأفعال- التزام أمريكا بإصلاح ديمقراطي ثابت ومستديم في العالم العربي. وفي اعتقادنا فإن المشكلة الأساسية في سياسات الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في الشرق الأوسط ( خصوصا في العراق وفلسطين وفي مناطق أخرى ) تكمن بالتحديد في عدم اتساقها مع قيم أمريكا الديمقراطية الداعية للحرية والعدالة للجميع. لقد شجعنا التزامكم القوى بالحرية الذي عبرتم عنه في خطابكم الشهير الذي ألقيتموه في نوفمبر 2003 بالصندوق الوطني للديمقراطية، ثم تأكيدكم على ذلك في خطابكم بمناسبة تنصيبكم لولايتكم الثانية، والذي قلتم فيه أن "على كل من يرزح تحت الاستبداد واليأس أن يعلم أن الولايات المتحدة لن تتجاهل أوضاعكم، ولن تتسامح مع مضطهديكم." ثم تأكيدكم لكل من "يناضل من أجل الحرية، بأنكم ستناضلون معهم".
وبالرغم من بعض التشكك المبدئي، فإن هذه التصريحات غذت مشاعر الأمل في المنطقة. ونحن ندرك أن تحقيق الديمقراطية ليس عملية يسيرة، وأنها يجب أن تتم من داخل المنطقة، ولكنها بإمكانها الاستفادة من التشجيع والدعم اللذين يحتاجهما عالمنا العربي بصورة ضرورية وعاجلة. إن الحد الأدنى من الدعم الذى تتطلع إليه شعوب المنطقة يكمن بالتحديد في ما عبرتم عنه في خطابكم أمام الصندوق الوطني للديمقراطية، وهو يتلخص في وقف دعم ومساندة الأنظمة غير الديمقراطية في المنطقة، ذلك الدعم الذي امتد على مدى 60 عاما، وإشهار ذلك للعالم أجمع بصورة جلية وواضحة. وسيكون هذا أكثر اتساقا مع قيم ومبادئ الولايات المتحدة، تلك المبادئ التي عرفت باتصالها الحميم منذ بدايتها بمبادئ الحكم الديمقراطي المعبر عنها في وثائق تأسيس الدولة الأمريكية، تلك المبادئ التي تخاطب كل الأجيال والشعوب في كل مكان.
نحن ندرك -يا سيادة الرئيس- قلق البعض في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية من بعض المكاسب التي حققها الإسلاميون في الانتخابات الأخيرة بفلسطين ومصر، والتى أثارت الشكوك حول حكمة العمل من أجل دعم الحرية والديمقراطية في الشرق الأوسط. وقد استغل الحكام المستبدون في المنطقة هذا القلق من أجل تمديد وترسيخ الأوضاع القائمة. ومع ذلك، فإنه لا يمكن الدفع بالحريات بدون مشاركة جميع الأطراف المستعدة للتتقيد بالعملية الديمقراطية وبنبذ العنف. إن المشاركة الديمقراطية هى الطريق الوحيد من أجل مكافحة التطرف والضغط على كل الجماعات، بمن فيهم الإسلاميين، من أجل اعتدال مواقفهم بما قد يتيح لهم الحصول على نصيب أكبر من الأصوات. كما أنه يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تستمر في الضغط من أجل إنهاء قمع الأنظمة الديكتاتورية للجماعات النشطة ديمقراطيا من الليبراليين والإسلاميين، وأن تنأى بنفسها عنه وأن تدينه بأقسى العبارات كلما وقع وأينما يقع. ونحن على ثقة من أن المواطنين العرب إذا ما أتيحت لها الفرصة للاختيار، فإنهم سيختارون الديمقراطية والحرية والسلام والتقدم.
إن العودة إلى وضع ما قبل الحادى عشر من سبتمبر ليس هو الحل. لأن ذلك سوف يشجع الحكام المتفردين بالحكم، ويؤذي بالإصلاحيين العرب، وسيضر بمصداقية الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. وفي النهاية فإنه قد يقوى ويدعم القوى التي تخافها الولايات المتحدة. إن الإصلاح هو شاطئ الأمان الوحيد الذي تغمره الأضواء، حتى ولو تطلبت مشقة الوصول إليه المزيد من الشجاعة والصبر والمثابرة.
لقد قام بعض الحكام المسيطرين على مقاليد الأمور في العالم العربي مؤخرا -وربما شجعهم في ذلك ظنهم أن أمريكا قد ترددت في سياستها الداعمة للديمقراطية- بتكثيف حدة القمع تجاه شعوبهم وتجاه نشطائها. وهذا يجعل الحاجة إلى الدعم والضغط الأمريكي والدولي المستمر أكثر أهمية وإلحاحا من ذي قبل. إن المنطقة في حاجة إلى أن تدرك مجددا أن مسار الحرية والديمقراطية هو المسار الوحيد الذي ستستمر أمريكا في دعمه، من أجل التعبير عن مبادئها وتحقيق مصالحها.
وسنذكر حالة واحدة فقط لسيادتكم، لعلها تظهر كيف يمكن لتأثير الولايات المتحدة أن يحقق منفعة كبيرة، فإن مصر قد شهدت مؤخرا هجوما ضاريا من النظام على نشطاء المعارضة. ففي فبراير قامت الحكومة بتأجيل الانتخابات المحلية وجددت العمل بقانون الطوارئ. ولم تستنن الحكومة القضاة الموقرين الذين ثابروا على إثارة مطلبهم باستقلالية القضاء خلال الشهور الأخيرة. كما أن أيمن نور، المعارض السياسي الليبرالي الذى نافس مبارك في الانتخابات الرئاسية الأخيرة وحصل على 7.6 % من الأصوات، محتلا بذلك للمرتبة الثانية بعد مبارك، لا يزال حبيس القضبان بعد أن حكم عليه بالسجن لمدة خمس سنوات في محاكمة صورية.
وتظل الحالة الصحية لأيمن نور، الصديق والزميل للعديد منا، مستمرة في التدهور. ونحن ندعوك يا سيادة الرئيس أن تقوم بتبني قضيته، وأن تبلغ النظام المصري قلقك واهتمامك بالرجل وبصحته. هذا بالإضافة إلى أن المئات من النشطاء من الأطباء وأساتذة الجامعات والإعلاميين والعاملين في منظمات المجتمع المدني، الذين كان جرمهم الوحيد هو التعبير عن رغبتهم في الحرية، لا يزالون حبيسى القضبان، يعانون من التعذيب ومن وحشية ضباط الشرطة. هذا التعذيب الذي غالبا ما يتضمن التحرش الجنسي والإهانة العلنية للنساء الناشطات والصحفيين بواسطة البلطجية المتعاونين مع الحكومة.
وكما برهنتم فإن الحرب على الإرهاب والمتطرفين لا يمكن أن تكسب إلا من خلال مساعدة بلاد الشرق الأوسط في إصلاح نظمها السياسية المنغلقة. فكلما انفتحت هذه المجتمعات، سيمتلك المواطنون القدرة على التعبير عن مظالمهم من خلال الوسائل الديمقراطية المشروعة، مما يجعلهم أقل رغبة في اللجوء إلى العنف. لقد كنتم محقين في الاعتقاد بأن الديمقراطية والتعددية هما اللتان تحددان الطريق للسلام والاعتدال.
ونتمنى يا سيادة الرئيس أن تأخذوا كلماتنا في الاعتبار، وأن تتذكروا أن العديد من القضايا تقف منتظرة على المحك في العالم العربي، وأن تدركوا أن ثمن السكوت أو إرسال الرسائل غير الواضحة سيكون غاليا، خصوصا عندما تكون الحرية عرضة للاعتداء. ونرجو منكم أن تبذلوا قصارى جهدكم من أجل ضمان أن لا يتحكم عدد قليل من الحكام المهيمنين على مصائر 300 مليون مواطن عربي، أكثر من نصفهم شباب لم يتعدوا العشرين من أعمارهم. إن الديمقراطية والحرية هما الطريق الوحيد من أجل بناء عالم يستبدل فيه العنف بالحوار العلني السلمي وبالمشاركة السياسية، وأن يحل الأمل والتسامح والكرامة محل اليأس والإحباط.


1- رضوان مصمودي ، مركز دراسة الاسلام و الديمقراطية ، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية
2- على أبو زعكوك ، مركز دراسة الاسلام و الديمقراطية ، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية
3- شريف منصور ، مركز دراسة الاسلام و الديمقراطية ، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية ، مصر
4- خالد شيركوي سيموني ، المركز المغربي لحقوق الانسان ، المغرب
5- قمر الهدى ، المعهد الامريكي للسلام ، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية
6- أنور حدان، حركة الحرية والعدالة الاجتماعية ،الجزائر
7- رنا سليم، المعهد الدولى للحوار المستديم، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية
8- عبد الوهاب الأفندي ، مركز دراسة الديمقراطية ، جامعة وسبتمنستر، لمملكة المتحدة
9- ابراهيم حسين ، التحالف المصري الامريكي ،الولايات المتحدة
10- نجاح كاظم ، لمنتدى الدولى للحوار الاسلامي،المملكة المتحدة
11- عبد العظيم محمد حنفى ، مركز كنعان للدراسات و الابحاث ، مصر
12- نجيب غضيبان، جامعة اركانساس، الولايات المتحدة الامريكية / سوريا
13- أنا مهجر ، معهد دراسة اعلام الشرق الاوسط ، ايطاليا – المغرب
14- مالثا ارار ، ج . ي انفرا للطاقة ، الولايات المتحدة
15- احمد صبحي منصور ، المركز القرآني الدولى
16- احمد شعبان ، مركز ابن خلدون ، مصر
17- عباس راحى، المنظمة العراقية للبيئة و اعادة تأهيل المجتمع ، العراق
18- جميلة اسماعيل ، حزب الغد ، مصر
19- امير سالم ، حزب الحرية و العدالة ، مصر
20- محمد ابراهيم ، جمعية نور للخدمات الاجتماعية ، مصر
21- عماد فريد ، حزب الغد ، مصر
22- هيثم مزاحم ، صحفى مستقل و باحث ، مصر
23- ابراهيم دادي ، مفكر اسلامي ، الجزائر
24- عثمان محمد على ، صيدلى وباحث اسلامي ، كندا/ مصر
25- عادل محمد ، مركز دراسة الاسلام ، مصر
26- حمدي شهاب ، مركز سواسية للمواطنة وحقوق الانسان ، مصر
27- احمد فرغلي ، مركز سواسية للمواطنة وحقوق الانسان ، مصر
28- محمد عبد العزيز ، مركز ابن خلدون للدراسات الانمائية ، مصر
29- محمد اللاوزي ، ناشط ، فرنسا
30- حمدى عبد العزيز ، مركز سواسية لحقوق الانسان ، مصر
31- غسان على عثمان ، باحث اسلامي ، السودان
32- مهيب الارناؤطي ، ناشط ، مصر
33- صفى الدين حامد ، التحالف المصري الامريكي ، الولايات المتحدة / مصر
34- مروة عبد القادر حلمى ، ناشطة ، مصر
35- محمد فوزى ، جمعية الانسان لدراسات التنمية ، مصر

* ايراد المنظمات بغرض التعريف فقط

Ayman Nour's Words from Prison

In a letter marking the first anniversary of the 2005 presidential elections held in Egypt, Ayman Nour, the opposition candidate imprisoned for his run against President Hosni Mubarak, writes words to encourage those Egyptians who aspire to the higher ideals of freedom and democracy not to give up in the face of unrelenting repression. He writes that through perseverance to their dream of democracy the people will have the power to instigate the change they want to see in their country, and that “the people's living dreams represent a statement the strongest censor cannot delete. He may be able to postpone them but he does not have the power to delete them or avoid their explosion.”

He condemns the incumbent regime’s so-called democratic reforms through the amendment to article 76 of the constitution allowing multi-party elections. This effort, Nour argues, was undermined by the government’s own policies, which restrict voter participation by requiring, in place of ID cards, voting cards that determine local constituencies for national elections. Although the amendment to article 76 cites the right of all citizens to participate in the election of their national leaders, distribution of voting cards had come to a close even before the announcement that national elections would be taking place. Thus, many Egyptian citizens were deprived of their right to vote, hindering any possibility for fair and free elections.

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