Egypt’s army chief and Field Marshall, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, resigned as head of the military and defense minister to declare his candidacy for the Egyptian presidential elections. Sisi ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in July 2013 and is widely believed to win the presidential vote.
Op 22 februari was ik namens het European Forum for Democracy and Solidariteit in Tunesië voor een conferentie van de Progressive Alliance. Op de agenda stonden onder andere de ontwikkelingen in de Arabische wereld. Het was mooi om juist nu in Tunesië te zijn. In januari heeft het land een nieuwe grondwet aangenomen. Deze wordt geprezen als de meest democratische en progressieve grondwet in de hele Arabische regio. De sociaaldemocratische partij Ettakatol is blij en trots. Mede door de inzet van haar parlementariërs en partijleider Mustapha Ben Jafar, die tevens de voorzitter van de Constitutionele Assemblee is, kon deze mooie grondwet tot stand komen.
Afgelopen weekend (20-22 maart) organiseerden wij twee trainingen in Jordanië. Beiden waren jongerentrainingen georganiseerd samen met onze lokale partners in Jordanië, Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture (JCDC) en het Al-Sindyan Institute.
An Egyptian judge, in the town of Minya, sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on Monday 24 March. 16 suspects were acquitted. The court issued its ruling after only two sessions and defence lawyers said they had no chance to present their case. The ruling was the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt’s modern history.
Afgelopen weekend (21-23 maart) organiseerden wij in samenwerking met onze lokale partner Ettakatol een mediatraining in Tunesië. De training vond plaats in Tunis voor leden van Ettakatol, met hoge functies in de partij.
In Turkey, tensions soared on 11 and 12 March when tens of thousands of people took to the streets and gathered to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan. He died after being in a coma for nine months. Last June he was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a symbol for the police brutality that, among others, caused the Gezi-protests of last year to escalate. These protests started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park but evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdoğan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.
A Fatah meeting in the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, was violently disrupted by Hamas police on Saturday 8 March. Fatah members gathered in remembrance of martyrs who fell during the Intifada. About twenty people got arrested, but were released after a short while.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given a warning that his government will block social media networks YouTube and Facebook, which feature in the growing corruption scandal. “If necessary” he would ban them, suggesting that “he would not sacrifice the Turkish people” to the two websites. Both platforms were used to spread the leaks of alleged phone calls between Erdoğan and his son in which they discuss how to hide vast sums of money. The Prime Minister dismisses those phone calls as being a fake montage by his rivals, which he deems ‘vile’ and ‘immoral’. After the local elections on 30th of March, he warned, new steps will therefore be taken to tighten the government’s grip over the internet.
Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to discuss peace with the Palestinians, but offered no concessions. He demanded that the Palestinians would recognize the state of Israel in return. Netanyahu made the statement at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the US leading Israel-lobby organization.
Today, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul signed into law a widely contested bill tightening the governments hold on the judiciary. The new law gives the minister of Justice greater control over the independent Supreme board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) responsible for appointing and overseeing the members of the judiciary. Critics of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan say the new law is designed to tighten Erdogan’s grip over the country.