Daily News — CANVAS

Daily News and Updates 

Patrick George Zaki: Egyptian activist jailed on his return from Italy

[Regeni embraces Zaki in graffiti on the Egyptian Embassy in Rome: “this time everything will be fine”]   In the early morning of February 7th, Patrick George Zaki, Gender and Human Rights researcher at The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) was taken into custody by the Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA) at Cairo Airport and disappeared for the following 24 hours. Zaki left Egypt in August 2019 after winning an EU-Funded scholarship to participate in the GEMMA Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. At the time of his arrest, he was a student at the University of Bologna in Italy. Samuel Tharwat, his lawyer, told Amnesty International that Zaki was kept blindfolded and handcuffed throughout a 17-hour interrogation at the airport and then at an unknown NSA location in Mansoura. During the interrogation, Zaki was beaten and tortured with low-voltage electric shocks, while being questioned about his work on human rights and his residence in Italy. The day after, Zaki appeared before the Public Prosecutor in Mansoura and was presented by the police with a report which falsely claimed that he was arrested at a checkpoint in his hometown, pursuant to an outstanding warrant issued in September 2019. He was accused of publishing rumours and false news that aim to disturb social peace and sow chaos; inciting protests without permission from the relevant authorities with the aim of undermining state authority; calling for the overthrow of the state; managing a social media account that aimed to undermine social order and public safety; inciting violence and terrorist crimes. With these accusations, the Prosecutor ordered his detention... read more

George Clooney: How Congress Can Help Stop the Killing in Sudan

George Clooney and John Prendergast are Co-Founders of The Sentry (www.thesentry.org), which follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system. Traveling throughout the Sudanese region of Darfur and neighboring refugee camps during the mid-2000s, we saw firsthand evidence of the monster the Sudanese regime had built to carry out a genocide. The government organized, armed and deployed militias, known then as the “Janjaweed,” alongside the regular army as the primary instruments of its killing machine. Ethnic cleansing and mass rape were the Janjaweed’s weapons of choice. Fast forward to the present: Massive peaceful protests that erupted throughout Sudan in mid-December led to the removal in April of Sudan’s 30-year dictator, Omar al-Bashir. In May, the protesters’ leadership and the military leaders who assumed power after the coup reached a tentative deal to establish civilian rule in the country, agreeing on a three-year transition to democratic elections and granting power to civilian-controlled institutions. Massive peaceful protests continued during and after the negotiations, as demonstrators kept pushing to dismantle the violent, undemocratic kleptocratic system built up during al-Bashir’s reign. But there was one big problem with the deal. The big losers in such an arrangement would be al-Bashir’s allied generals, who had looted the country with impunity for 30 years, and the Janjaweed militias, who would no longer have free, lawless rein in their areas of deployment. As a result, on June 3, Sudanese security forces spearheaded by the Janjaweed attacked a major protester encampment. Now known by the deceptively anodyne term... read more

Press release from CANVAS regarding latest developments On Illegal Crackdown of Zimbabwean Civil Society

“Nonviolence is a basic human right” The Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) firmly condemns the illegal arrest of seven (7) Zimbabwean civil society activists on their way home from attending a training workshop organized by CANVAS in the Maldives from May 15 to 19, 2019. All of them have been denied bail so far. Six are remanded in person. The seventh person has serious health issues – she is remanded in a public hospital and denied the right to seek treatment in her preferred private clinic. Their names are George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa, and Rita Nyampinga. During the workshop, the State-controlled newspaper, The Herald, published an article that falsely accused participants of plotting to unleash violence in Zimbabwe in a bid to overthrow the Government. CANVAS would like to inform Zimbabweans and the international community that the charges against these activists are blatantly false. The charges include: “subversion”, “counterintelligence”, and “being trained in use of small arms”. The activists could face up to twenty years in prison for these charges. The workshop focused on advocacy and civic engagement capacity building such as: Developing Shared Vision of Tomorrow; Civic Engagement; Effective Communications; Protecting Privacy and Security; and Organizational Planning. For a decade and a half, CANVAS’ mission has been focused on the fact that nonviolence is morally and ethically superior to violence, and more likely to produce constructive outcomes and build strong and stable societies. The arrests clearly violate provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution on freedom of assembly and expression, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Basic... read more

Mike Pompeo Is Needed in Sudan

They deserve more U.S. support; Photographer: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP The U.S. secretary of state could help the cause of democracy with a timely visit to Khartoum. Since Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir was forced out of office in April after months of popular protests, a struggle has played out between the country’s generals and civil society leaders seeking a full democratic transition. The Trump administration has encouraged that democratic transition. On May 8, for example, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan toldthe chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, General Abdel Fattah el-Burhan, to “move expeditiously toward a civilian-led interim government,” something el-Burhan had initially promised to do in negotiations with the democratic opposition. In the last several weeks, however, the generals have reneged on their promises. Some military units have fired on protesters. Negotiations to share power between civilians and the military have stalled. On Tuesday, the opposition called for a general strike. As a headline in Foreign Policy put it, Sudan is now in the midst of a “counterrevolution.” It doesn’t have to be this way. A well-timed visit to Khartoum from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can stop the momentum for a counterrevolution and get Sudan back on the right path. First, Pompeo should meet publicly with leaders of the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that began the anti-Bashir protests in December, and the allied Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change. Meeting these activists first will help counter the pseudo-legitimacyconferred in the last week by America’s Arab allies: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. All three countries have hosted leaders of the transitional military council. Srdja Popovic,... read more

A Small Spark of Hope for Democracy in the Indian Ocean

From the genocide of the Rohingya, to the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Nicaragua, to the surprising success of right-wing populism in Brazil, to the increasingly virulent strains of isolationist nationalism that have been taking root in eastern Europe, it’s a grim time for democracy around the world. But an unexpected source of hope has emerged from the Maldives, an island nation known for little more than its idyllic beaches and long history of authoritarian rule.

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In Celebration and In Protest—Queer People’s Power in Turkey

Despite the government ban on the Istanbul Pride March, approximately 1000 people chose to participate in a rally on Sunday, both in celebration of their identities and in protest of the government ban. Police, dogs, and armored vehicles confronted the protesters and eleven people were detained. However, activists continued to march.

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Hypocritical (Non-)Commitment to Human Rights Plagues White House

Avi Selk, Washington Post The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) on Tuesday amidst growing criticisms against Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies. This move, which US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has defended as an act of support for global human rights, has aligned the United States with Eritrea, Iran and North Korea, three of the world’s worst human rights offenders and the only other countries that have refused UNHCR membership. In the past six weeks, American customs officials have separated more than 2000 children from their asylum-seeking parents at America’s southern border. Many of these children are now housed in tent cities and converted warehouses, unable to see or communicate with their parents. In early June, the UN deemed these separations illegal under international law and called for their immediate halt. The US has since accused the UN of political corruption and incompetence and has withdrawn their membership from the Human Rights Council (HCR) as a whole. This decision is just the latest of many by the Trump Administration which disregard international treaties and human rights standards, setting an alarming precedent for the remaining years of Trump’s presidency. Ambassador Haley endorsed the withdrawal, stating “the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights. In the end, no speech and no structural reforms will save the members of the Human Rights Council from themselves.” However, the US’ departure from the world’s leading humanitarian organization arguably limits, rather than enables, the country’s ability to positively impact human rights. In her speech, Ambassador Haley cited... read more

Increasing Hate Crimes against Journalists threaten Indian Democracy

A rising tide of intolerance threatens journalists in India. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, journalists have been facing greater threats from an increasingly polarized environment in India. From the death of Gauri Lankesh, a known critic of Hindu right-wing extremism, last September to the recent hate crimes against Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar, there is a lack of press freedom and a growing assault on constitutional and democratic values.

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Georgian Prime Minister Resigns Amidst Protests Against Corruption

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday following several weeks of popular protest and political disagreements with Georgia’s ruling party. Kvirikashvili’s resignation accompanies several other step-downs by major government officials following popular outcry and protests against corruption.

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Death of Palestinian Medic Sparks Outrage and Investigations

The death of a medic in Gaza has prompted outcry and an investigation by Israeli officials. She was shot by Israeli Security forces as she approached the Gaza border fence.  Her death comes as hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been killed by the Israeli military near the border in a recent protests.

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What you need to know about Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections

On Wednesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the country is to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on July 30th. In less than two months, Zimbabwean citizens will have the opportunity to vote, in the first elections since the ousting of Robert Mugabe in November last year. What do you need to know about the upcoming elections?

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Kidnapping and Murder of Ecuadorian Journalists Just One Facet of Declining Free Press

At the end of March, an Ecuadorian media team was kidnapped by a rebel group along the Colombia-Ecuador border. Two weeks later, their deaths were confirmed and journalists in both countries are condemning their governments for the lack of action taken to secure the lives of their colleagues. And across the world, journalists suffer yet more injustices: arbitrary detention, harassment, and threats against their lives. Social movements must not only demand the hard work of journalists but also reciprocate with protection and support.

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