politics of cyberspace
Police in Egypt on Nov. 28 arrested prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdul Fattah who had taken part in a rally outside the upper house of parliament two days earlier, where protesters were calling for repeal of a new law that bans unauthorized demonstrations. Abdel-Fattah was arrested at his home, according to a statement by supporters. "They [the police] had no search warrant and when his wife, Manal, demanded to see it they were both beaten," read the statement, adding that the couples' computers and phones were confiscated in the raid. "Their two-year-old son, Khaled, was asleep in the next room," the statement said.
Three gun-battles in one day left at least 13 dead in the Mexican border city of Matamoros Nov. 2, Tamaulipas state authorities acknowledged. A statement from the Tamaulipas Coordination Group—the liaison office between state and federal forces—said two of the shoot-outs were between Mexican Marines and "armed civilians," the standard euphemism for cartel gunmen. One woman was among the 13 dead, who were also identified as "civilians"—leaving it unclear if they were combatants or by-standers. What press accounts called "narco-blockades" cut off traffic on the city's principal avenues. (Global Post, Crónica de Hoy, Nov. 4; Proceso, Nov. 3) Nov. 11 saw another outburst in the neighboring border city of Reynosa, with federal forces and presumed cartel gunmen having a high-speed shoot-out in a car chase through several neighborhoods. Allegedly, only one of the gunmen was killed, but video footage provided by the Facebook-coordinated network Valor por Tamaulipas showed a car overturned in road pile-up. (El Diario de Coahuila, Nov. 11)
New violence is reported from China's far western province of Xinjiang Nov. 16, when a group of Uighur youths attacked the police station in Siriqbuya (Chinese: Selibuya) township, Maralbeshi (Bachu) county, Kashgar prefecture. Two auxiliary officers were bludgeoned to death, and all nine of the attackers were reported to be killed. The youths were said to be armed with knives, swords and sickles The same town was also the scene of deadly clashes in April. Radio Free Asia, citing eyewitness accounts (presumably via cellphone), reported that "residents pleaded with the police not to kill the young Uyghurs"—implying at least some of the deaths may have been extrajudicial executions carried out after the attackers were pinned down or subdued. (Al Jazeera, Nov. 17; RFA, Nov. 16)
Street clashes continued in the Sudanese capital Khartoum for a second day Sept. 26 after massive protests broke out over the regime's move to cut fuel subsidies. At least 30 have been killed, and protestors have taken up the slogans of the Arab Revolutions, "Freedom, Freedom!" and "The people want the fall of the regime!" The regime has suspended Internet access for 48 hours in a bid to head off new demonstrations that have been called for after Friday prayers. Authorities say that police are among the dead, and that armed militants from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) are infiltrating and inciting the protests. Opposition figures, in turn, accuse agents of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of being behind arson attacks on government buildings and public buses. (Sudan Tribune, Sept. 26; BBC News, Sept. 25)
Days after it was reported that Lebanese authorities are barring entry to Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria, The Guardian tells us of the sudden flight of Syria's "well-heeled elite" into Lebanon—predictably meeting no interference from authorities. With nearly 2 million already in refuge beyond Syria's borders according to the UNHCR (up from 1.4 million just four months ago), and hundreds of thousands more internally displaced, many facing hunger and harsh conditions for well over a year now, it is almost satisfying to see the pain get passed around to the regime's favored lackeys. But the threat of US air-strikes which has sparked this exclusive exodus also looms over Syria's commoners—as we saw in Libya, "smart bombs" and "surgical" targeting still have a habit of wiping out civilians. And yes, there is something utterly perverse about the world sitting and watching, arms folded, as Syria escalates to genocide—as in Darfur. But the threat is very real that US intervention will internationalize the conflict, and set off a regional or even global conflagration...
We always say there's no vindication like getting it from both sides, but this is about as vindicating as it gets. Your trusty blogger has long taken pride that my name appears on the Jewish Self-Hating and/or Israel-Threatening (SHIT) List, compiled by some proverbial Zionist hoodlums who wish to intimidate critics of the settler state. I assume I won this honor through my bloggery, my anti-Zionist website New Jewish Resistance, and my interviews with Palestinian activists on WBAI over the years. It has certinaly been very handy for me—I can trot out this impeccable credential every time some anti-Semite accuses me of being "pro-Zionist" for calling out Jew-hatred. So now I was just pleased to find that I have my own hateful little entry in Metapedia, a sort of Wikipedia for neo-Nazis. (See their flattering entry for Adolf Hitler.) So the next time some Zionist hoodlum accuses me of being "self-hating," I'll know just what to do...
A human rights activist for Frontline Defenders on Aug. 9 reported that the lawyer representing a Bahraini blogger held by authorities has been detained himself days after alleging his client had been tortured while in police custody. Abdul Aziz Moussa is representing Mohamed Hassan, who acted as a media contact point for various foreign news stories, which included coverage of anti-government protests and police crackdowns in Bahrain. Hassan was taken from his home in July by men associated with the Ministry of Interior and detained incommunicado at the Criminal Investigation Department. Moussa was detained on August 8 after he reported on Twitter the visible signs of torture he had seen on his client Hassan. Front Line Defenders considers that the arrest and detention of Hassan and Moussa to be directly related to their activities in defense of human rights.
More than 40,000 marched yon Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly Aug. 6 to demand the resignation of the government, with progress towards a new constitution stalled. The elected body has suspended its work until the Islamist-led administration and secular opposition open negotiations over the stalemate sparked by last month's slaying of leading left-opposition figure Mohamed Brahmi. (BBC News, Aug. 6; AFP, Aug. 7) Responding to an obvious question from Al Jazeera, Walid Bennani, vice president of the ruling Ennahda party, said: "There's no coup d'etat in Tunisia. There’s an opposition party that wants to dissolve the government. The opposition...wants to repeat the Egyptian scenario. That can't happen." (Al Jazeera, Aug. 8)