From ONI: “The recent political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has thrown into focus the information shaping, events-based blocking, and counter-control activities undertaken by governments throughout the region. New research by the OpenNet Initiative shows that many of these activities are supported by Western filtering tools and services.” Read the OpenNet Initiative’s new report: “West Censoring East: The Use of Western Technologies by Middle East Censors, 2010-2011,” authored by Jillian York and Helmi Noman. A related Wall Street Journal item is here, but requires subscription/login.
Photo: Anti-government protesters’ reflections are seen on a car that was hit by bullets during an operation by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) military forces to remove protesters from Pearl Square in Bahrain, March 17, 2011. (REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan)
Bahrain awoke to a violent crackdown by police on demonstrators camped out at the country’s iconic Lulu (Pearl) roundabout on Wednesday. That afternoon, I boarded a flight from Doha, Qatar to Bahrain, to see for myself what was unfolding in the island nation I once called home.
Hours later, I found myself on a flight back to Doha, without having been allowed to set foot out of Bahrain’s airport in Muharraq.
The flight itself was quite uneventful. The plane – an Airbus A321, with a listed 177 passenger capacity – carried less than 30 people. A short line to immigration meant I was at the desk in minutes. Immigration officer asks, “Where are you coming from? Qatar? OK, 5 Bahraini Dinars.”
Thumbing through my passport, he suddenly stops and looks me in the eye. “Wait, where are you from? Who do you work for? … Please have a seat – over there.” I can’t be sure if it was the Iraq visa, the India visa, or the numerous Qatar & Saudi visas in my American passport he found suspicious. Or perhaps it was my telling him in Arabic that “my origin” is half Indian, half Hispanic.
So my wait began. There were quite a number of other people on the benches too. Anyone who’d arrived with the intention of driving across the King Fahad causeway into Saudi Arabia was being told they’d have to fly. There is a curfew in effect on Bahrain’s main highway from 4pm-4am, and last I heard, the bridge to Saudi was closed indefinitely. This of course, due to the month-long protests against the government by opposition groups calling for democratic reforms, a constitutional monarchy and basic human rights.
After about an hour of waiting, and checking in a couple times to see if there was any problems, one of the immigration officers asked, “You used to work for Al Jazeera, right?”
Access to life-saving medicines is not a luxury, but a human right.
~Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
To me, the above statement is one of those things that sound like a no-brainer. Put another way, if I were to ask you whether you thought a person’s income should determine whether they live or die from something like HIV/AIDS, then I think you would see that the answer is nothing but obvious. But here I am, in Canada, writing this post, because there is a very real danger that members of my government think that this isn’t such an easy decision after all – that maybe wealth and business interests do matter when dealing with such ethical choices, and that there is a hierarchy where certain lives are worth more than others. Let me backtrack a bit, and provide a little context. I’d rather not write a rant, emotional and heart wrenching as this discussion can be – I’d prefer to rely on reason, and not on rhetoric. I want everybody to understand why this is an important issue, one that deserves coverage, and one that deserves our involvement. More importantly, I want everybody to understand why the right thing to do is obvious. To start, let me mention the letters and numbers that make up the label, “Bill C-393.” Keep them in your head – at least for a moment. If you’re the sort that prefers hearing at least a quick definition, then this one might work:
Bill C-393 aims to reform CAMR and make it easier for Canada to export affordable, life-saving, generic medicines to developing countries.
~Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
If you’re thinking that this is a Canadian thing, then think again. Other rich countries are watching how Canada will behave. There’s a few in Europe, and apparently even China is curious. In the U.S., the topic appears to be quenched, but the behaviour of the Canadian government could catalyze dialogue. And if you’re not from a rich country? Well, you might actually have lives that will be affected by it, millions of lives even.
A girl attends Friday prayers in front of an army tank in Tahrir Square. Egyptians held a nationwide “Victory March” on Friday to celebrate the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule one week ago, to protect the revolution and to remind new military rulers of the power of the street. Hundreds of thousands joined the rallies, which are also a memorial to the 365 people who died in the 18-day uprising, with many Egyptians expressing their intention to guard their newly-won prospect of democracy. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
A demonstrator shows his T-shirt that features the star and crescent symbol and reads “Yes We Can” during a protest against the regime of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi outside the Libyan Embassy in Berlin, February 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
More photos follow, from Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, and other nations throughout Africa and the Middle East where the “revolution virus” is spreading.
People gather to mourn and pray for demonstrators who were injured after riot police stormed an anti-government protest camp, outside the Salmaniya hospital where the casualties were sent to, in Manama February 17, 2011.
Family members of the protester who was killed this morning during police clashes mourn at a hospital after receiving news of his death in the Bahraini capital of Manama.
More photos below (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed).
Warning: graphic content.
ABC News: “We’ve compiled a list of all the journalist who have been in some way threatened, attacked or detained while reporting in Egypt. When you put it all into one list, it is a rather large number in such a short period of time.” (Ed. note: Since they’ve last updated the list, I’ve seen word of a dozen new cases pop up on Twitter. This really is unprecedented.—XJ)
Link to details at Huffington Post, and CNN has posted this video. Shortly after the incident, Cooper tweeted, “Its getting really bad in front of Egyptian museum”—all of the Twitter feeds I’m following from folks on the ground there point in the same direction. The protests are now being flooded by pro-Mubarak thugs, and various state employees paid to be present, and there are very high counts of injuries today. The situation sounds increasingly dangerous.
As an aside, I have plenty of complaints about CNN, but I have nothing but respect for Anderson Cooper’s work. Dude is for real. From the tweets, sounds like he and his crew have been awake for four days solid since landing in Egypt. I think they’re doing solid reporting under extremely difficult conditions.
Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, and a number of reporters with Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera have also been beaten up by thugs who back (or are employed by) Mubarak.
Sarah Topol in Slate: “Egypt has a sexual harassment problem. In a 2008 study, 86 percent of women said they had been harassed on Egypt’s streets–any woman walking through a crowd of men in Egypt braces to get groped. But in the square, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, men apologized if they so much as bumped into you. After wandering around the protests for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t been groped, a constant annoyance when I’m faced with large crowds in Cairo. When I pointed this out to other women in the square, we all took a moment to reflect. ‘I hadn’t even thought of that,’ one woman in Tahrir told me. ‘But it’s because we’re all so focused on one goal, we’re a family here.”