Geoffrey Mock is Egypt country specialist and chair of the Middle East County Specialists for AIUSA. He has worked on the Middle East for Amnesty for 17 years. Among other work, he has assisted Amnesty's efforts to support human rights defenders, end unfair trials and torture in Egypt and to promote Egypt's traditionally vigorous civil society against harassment and legal attacks from both the government and non-governmental sources. His particular interest, at a time of diminishing space in which Egyptian human rights activists can act, is developing avenues outside of the U.S. government in which American activists can best connect and support the human rights work being done on the ground in Egypt. He works as an editor and manager of communications at Duke University.
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Three weeks ago, two Syrian activist journalists, Ibrahim Abd al-Qader and Fares Hamadi, both refugees who had survived harassment from the Assad regime, were killed in Urfa, Turkey, presumably by ISIS. They were added to the list of more than 220,000 Syrian dead, caught between the violence of both the Assad regime and ISIS and other armed groups.
Their murders highlight the continuing dangers Syrian refugees face. These are the people we should be supporting; these are the people who are essential to keeping hope the original vision of the Syrian uprising in 2011: a vision of a Syria built on respect for human rights. Instead, political leaders threatening to ban Syrian resettlement are threatening to shut the door on them.
Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Hussein Gharir, Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Mansour al-Omari
From a country where there is little reason to celebrate, here is some good news: Amnesty International learned Monday that Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish, who had been jailed by the Assad government on trumped-up terrorism charges, has been released.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Since 2011, more than half of the Syrian population has been on the run, fleeing their homes to escape war crimes and human rights abuses by both the Assad regime and armed opposition groups such as the Islamic State.
But the more than 4 million Syrian refugees can no longer escape the threat from another source: the neglect of world leaders that is condemning them to a life of misery and danger. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading. More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.
If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:
“Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
What happens when a crisis so prolongs that the world tires of it?
You get 3.7 million Syrian refugees.
You get stories like the one told by this woman living in a refugee camps. She has been in a Lebanese camp for three years with her two sons, one of whom is autistic. She has necessities, but little else; what she dreams of is that her children get an education. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The noose is tightening around Egypt’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These Egyptian NGOs — essentially what we call “nonprofits” in the US – focus on everything from human rights to other important issues. They may soon lose their independence under an old law that the new Egyptian government is bringing back to life. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Artwork by Shirmeen, aged 16, niece of disappeared Faisal Faraz, who was apprehended during a bus journey to Peshawar in Pakistan in July 2005. Several other persons who had been subjected to enforced disappearances testified to seeing them in detention but state officials denied their detention and any knowledge about their whereabouts.
“A mother’s broken heart keeps waiting to know something about her only son, whom she has not seen for 670 days. A new hope is born on every sunrise to see Dr Mohamed Arab once again with us.”
James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).
This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.
Somewhere in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak must be smiling, knowing that three years after his downfall, he has won after all.
After three decades of muzzling civil society, of harassing, detaining and torturing political activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers, doctors and regular citizens of all stripes, Mubarak never was able to accomplish what the new regime has achieved in a matter of months.