Updates on Marwan’s Case in Tunis

I hope people will take the actions Amnesty International recommended regarding the case of Marwan, a young man whom Tunisia has sentenced to 6 months in jail for being gay.

In the meantime, Shams Tunisie, a Tunisian LGBT advocacy group, has updated its Facebook page twice recently regarding Marwan’s case.

المطلوب إطلاق سراح مروان المظلوم في قضية الفحوص الشرجية #تونس

Amnesty International USA asked people to write to Tunisian officials asking them to release “Marwan,” a man who was convicted of same-sex conduct. “Marwan” is an alias. I found a column by Farhat Othman helpful. This is the body of the letter I wrote:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم و صلى الله على النبي الأمي محمد بن عبد الله و آله و سلم و السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

قال الله تعالى وإذا حكمتم بين الناس أن تحكموا بالعدل إن الله نعما يعظكم به إن الله كان سميعا بصيرا

فأرجو أن تصل إلىكم هذد الرسالة و أنتم بخير و صحة و عافية و أطلب منكم الإفراج فوراً بدون شروط عن الشاب الملقب بمروان المتهم بالمثلية و مسح سجله من تلك التهمة و إلغاء إدانته ثم إبطال الفصل 230 المجرِّم للمثلية.

كل ذلك ضروري لإرساء دولة القانون في تونس الحرة التي هي قدوة للشعوب العربية جميعا.

لكم الشكر و التقدير

Updated October 25, 2015: Minister of Justice expelled from cabinet, partly over his call to decriminalize same-sex behavior.

Report back from #Tunisia, Apr 28, 7pm #Atlanta #Georgia #Revolution #HumanRights

“Hands off the Tunisian Revolution” says International delegation of Lawyers and Academics

A group of lawyers and academics from the US, UK and Turkey have been investigating US and European complicity in human rights abuses committed by the Ben Ali regime. Join Human Rights Atlanta to hear the Atlanta attorney and National Lawyers Guild Executive Vice President Azadeh Shahshahani who was a member of the delegation speak about their findings!

This event is a potluck. Bring your friends and family. Children are welcome.

Facebook event

Flyer (pdf)

Thursday, April 28, 7pm-10pm

Phillip Rush Center, 1530 Dekalb Avenue Suite A, Atlanta, GA, 30307

Is #Libya Like #Tunisia and #Egypt? #Revolution #Africa #Arab

A friend wrote to me asking for my thoughts on the north African revolutions, particularly Libya.

The world media I have noticed is incredibly biased against all the Middle Eastern and African leaders and there presentation of the events unfolding now is not even close to being neutral.  Ghaddafi is the prime example, we have yet to hear from any of his supporters and when we do hear from Ghaddafi himself the media portrays him as some sort of madman.  Granted he has been the leader of Libya for 42 years and he was at odds with the United States for much of those 42 years.  However, one has to look beneath the surface and question the perspective the media is taking. They tend to focus on his attire and his cadre of female bodyguards, however it is a rare occurrence indeed when the media, including the Arab media, refers to the financial support he has provided to many sub-Saharan African countries.  They prefer to paint him in these broad brush strokes as an unhinged meglomaniac oblivious to the needs of the people.  It seems on the service that the people are protesting in Libya for the same reasons they protested in Egypt, but beneath the surface there most be more because the two countries are very dissimilar.  Libya has oil wealth, Egypt does not, Libya is very sparsely populated, whereas Egypt has a very dense population all concentrated along the banks of the Nile.  Perhaps those who are calling for Ghaddafi’s ouster and merely taking advantage of a situation in order to seize power and when they do, nothing truly will change.  Things may even become worse. What do you think?

My uninformed opinion is that Libya has been ineffective in creating positive change, whether it be domestic or in the rest of the African continent. Having said that, see the article below entitled Libya, Getting it Right. I also remember when I was in Nigeria meeting a South African who told me he was traveling to Libya to present to the Moammar al-Qaddafi a book which praised his government’s achievements.

I believe it is essential to reject all outside military intervention, although there’s really no way to prevent arms from reaching either the government or a rebel faction. In addition, freezing assets is a major intervention which the US had not done in the case of the Tunisian or Egyptian (or Saudi) despots, but it has frozen Libyan assets. So in no case should anybody believe that the U.S. can play a positive role in Libya or elsewhere, other than simply avoiding further intervention.

Tumblrs, do you have anything you’d like to add to this?

    Mental Notes to Myself Before 1st Ever Live Radio Appearance to Discuss #Egypt

    I hardly used these notes, but I felt calm due to the preparation. You can download the mp3 file. (length, 35 minutes)

    1. Egypt’s Geography
    2. Discuss Sources of Information
      1. Al-Jazeera Englishhttp://english.aljazeera.net/ search “demand al-jazeera”
      2. Link TVhttp://www.linktv.org/
      3. Juan Colehttp://www.juancole.com/
      4. Democracy Nowhttp://www.democracynow.org/
      5. Twitter tag #Jan25
      6. Human Rights Watchhttp://www.hrw.org
      7. Amnesty Internationalhttp://www.amnesty.org
    3. Conditions Which Led to Revolution
      1. Torture and Police Brutality
        1. Human Rights Watch reported in 2008 ~ 5,000 detainees without charge, some longer than 10 yrs
        2. “We are now uncovering evidence of Egypt being a destination of choice for third-party or contracted out torture in the ‘war on terror.‘” Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International, UK, April 11, 2007
        3. Human Rights Watch found that law enforcement officers routinely and deliberately use torture and ill-treatment – in ordinary criminal cases as well as with political dissidents and security detainees – to coerce confessions, extract other information, or simply to punish detainees
        4. Disappearance
        5. Impunity, few punished for torture and police brutality, sentences light
        6. Witness intimidation
        7. Emad el-Kebir, officers videotaped his rape and then distributed it to intimidate his colleagues
        8. Khaled Said was a 28-yr old in Alexandria who had evidence of local police dealing in drugs. Two police officers arrested him out of the Internet cafe of which he was a part-owner and beat him to death in the lobby of a nearby residential building. Government tried to cover up the murder, saying he died when he swallowed a bag of drugs he was carrying.
      2. Crony Capitalism
        1. success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth.
        2. Mubarak accelerated process of privatization of state-owned corporations. Govt sold its assets to Mubarak’s family members and allies for fraction of their worth. Those cronies sold them to investors at true value, thus gaining tremendous wealth. Production facilities closed to give cronies opportunity to import. Cronies acquired monopolies in certain commodities, another great source of wealth.
      3. Political Repression
        1. No independent judicial supervision of elections
        2. State-controlled media
        3. State of Emergency Law in effect for over 30 years
      4. Economic Underdevelopment
    4. Where is the revolution headed? I don’t really know. We humans tend to focus on our narrow self-interests, and the challenges Egypt faces require a sustained spirit of cooperation.
    5. Can the revolution spread to other countries? It is.
    6. Can it spread to the U.S.? To me, the closest thing I can think of to the Egyptian revolution is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s idea of the Poor People’s March. Could we get people out in the streets of every major city, stopping work and resisting police until the government changed its policies to people-centric from profit-centric?