Egypt: The Change Has to Be Institutional, Has to Be Now

The protests in Egypt erupted in the context of more than 30 years of severe repression © Sarah Carr

In Egypt these days, feelings of elation and dread, are often close together.  Today, elation that Google executive Wael Ghonim was released after almost two weeks of incommunicado detention; dread from news from reporters and other credible sources that former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Karim Amer had been arrested.

Even as the protesters in Tahrir Square say they feel protected, arrests by security forces occur around the country.  And in the background, negotiations continue to seek a solution to the political crisis. Talks continue between the Mubarak government and opposition groups and between the U.S. government and all Egyptian players.  For many protesters, these talks seem distant from their ability to influence.

It’s easy to understand the protesters concerns. For three decades, this government has muzzled civil society, made torture systematic, restricted the free press and free political association, attacked an independent bar and judiciary and given impunity to police officers.  After all that, the protesters are hearing from many sources, including the U.S. government, that they must give these same people an opportunity to reverse all that.  With the arrests of Amer and others continuing, it’s easy to understand why they believe that won’t happen.

Nevertheless, with the negotiations continuing, Amnesty International’s message remains focused on institutional change that will prevent human rights abuses. We continue to call for solidarity with the Egyptian protesters.  Amnesty International UK is spearheading a Global Day of Solidarity this coming Saturday, Feb. 12.  We hope Amnesty International members around the world will participate in events in their community or sponsor events of their own.  (Contact your regional office to get an Egypt Activist Toolkit.)

But in addition, Amnesty is pressing a plan for change.  News reports indicate that government officials have, for example, promised to end the State of Emergency (SOE) when the situation settles.  That’s hopeful, but it’s not enough.  In 2007, the Egyptians entrenched some of the powers given to the government under the State of Emergency into its constitution, so even if the SOE is eliminated, the government can legally access vast powers that can lead to abuse.

Here is a short list of places where Egyptian activists would like reform to start.

  • End of State of Emergency
  • Release of prisoners of conscience and end the prolonged administrative detention of all political prisoners
  • Review all laws and articles of the Egyptian constitution related to freedom of press, speech and political association and bring them into line with international covenants.
  • Grant the judiciary the role to provide independent oversight of elections; and end special military and emergency courts that act outside the civilian court system.
  • End  impunity for police and security forces who have engaged in torture or ill-treatment.
  • End all policies that promote the use of torture, including arbitrary and prolonged detention and those that unfairly limit access of the prisoner to lawyers, family members and medical care.

There are more.  Before the protests, Amnesty International was in the middle of a campaign on slum housing and forced evictions that underscored how the government’s neglect and corruption abused the social and economic rights of many Egyptians, particularly women and children.  But change can’t be delayed. Only if actions such as these are taken can the protesters be confident of institutional change.  They must happen regardless of who is in office, and they must happen now.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

4 thoughts on “Egypt: The Change Has to Be Institutional, Has to Be Now

  1. The Hawker Revolution — Arab world sings for democracy

    for Muhammad Bouazizi, a Tunisian street-hawker, whose tragic death acted as a catalyst for change

    By Habib Sulemani

    In solitary confinement,
    I can hear the song of liberty
    amid gunshots from the Arab world:

    "We want freedom
    We want democracy"

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    The melodious voices from the
    desert're intoxicating…
    It's compelling everybody—even the
    thundering guns're dancing!

    Azizi’s red blood has made the desert green
    This—history had never ever seen
    Trembling dynasties're crumbling…
    Hurray! Democracy is coming!

    Generals and mullahs: stay away!
    You've shed enough blood
    Lower your guns and loudspeakers…
    Let's dance to the tune of democracy!

    Let's sing the song of liberty
    Let’s dance for democracy

    Arabs want their lost dignity back…
    For ages they've been out of track…
    Now the helpless people've a ray of hope
    The oppressors can't cut the divine rope!

    It’s not the Arabian Nights' Entertainment era
    Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria—
    Everyone seeks freedom in the Arabian Peninsula
    Not only Libya and Syria
    Liberty is the right of entire Asia and Africa!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    Tired of the despot, corrupt and aged rulers
    The youth bade farewell to recruiters of bombers
    Ay! Cyber Generation, don't act like people after Saddam…
    Do not separate peace from Islam!

    The tyrants’re fleeing to the new palace of the old king…
    The last refuge of any disgraced barbaric regime!

    “My motherland'll vomit the fascist with big ego”
    I can hear the song of a Libyan shepherd
    Remove the unholy rulers from the Holly Land
    The world hears the chanting sand
    Kings, amirs, presidents and prime ministers
    Every chameleon and despot'll evaporate into air!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    People seek peace and prosperity
    A corruption-free country
    Citizens want to live with good grace
    Not like beasts—but as a human race!

    The song of liberty is deafening the oppressors around
    “Music is forbidden,” declares the king’s trusted cleric
    “Oppression is forbidden,” shouts the Arabian crowd
    “We want freedom. We want grace
    We want to live like a human race!”

    Behold, global players!
    Do you hear the music?
    The whirlwind of change has taken away people's fear
    Men and women're seeking no less than liberty
    Stop the pirates from hijacking the ship of dignity
    Right in the middle of the Arabian Sea!

    Abandon the theocratic, secular
    and military dictators everywhere!
    They’re sucking your blood like hookworms
    They’re making a hole in your soul
    And injured souls can’t be healed by crude oil!

    Let nightingales sing in the oasis freely
    Let rusted musical instruments come to life again
    Let arms go to hellfire not human beings
    Let peace triumph in the Middle East
    The Holly Land needs a graceful feast!

    Listen to the music
    Hay, hay, listen to…

    “We want freedom
    We want democracy”

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    ***

    Note: Anyone, who wants peace and real democracy in the Arab world, can use this poem, an instant reaction, in any way (with citation). Musicians and translators (especially Arabic) are most welcome. As global citizens, the users of the social media must raise the morale of the struggling Arab people.
    © Habib R. Sulemani

    More Plogs (Poetry Blogs)

    1. A blasphemy case in the court of God
    2. A tyrant has neither life nor a burial place in the changed world!
    3. Jesus and Hussain
    4. The Margalla Sunset — Happy New Year 2011
    5. An ode to my love
    6- Human Rights Day: how helpless God is today!


    Posted By Webmaster to THE TERRORLAND at 2/07/2011 12:20:00 AM
    http://theterrorland.blogspot.com/

  2. The Hawker Revolution — Arab world sings for democracy

    for Muhammad Bouazizi, a Tunisian street-hawker, whose tragic death acted as a catalyst for change

    By Habib Sulemani

    In solitary confinement,
    I can hear the song of liberty
    amid gunshots from the Arab world:

    "We want freedom
    We want democracy"

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    The melodious voices from the
    desert're intoxicating…
    It's compelling everybody—even the
    thundering guns're dancing!

    Azizi’s red blood has made the desert green
    This—history had never ever seen
    Trembling dynasties're crumbling…
    Hurray! Democracy is coming!

    Generals and mullahs: stay away!
    You've shed enough blood
    Lower your guns and loudspeakers…
    Let's dance to the tune of democracy!

    Let's sing the song of liberty
    Let’s dance for democracy

    Arabs want their lost dignity back…
    For ages they've been out of track…
    Now the helpless people've a ray of hope
    The oppressors can't cut the divine rope!

    It’s not the Arabian Nights' Entertainment era
    Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria—
    Everyone seeks freedom in the Arabian Peninsula
    Not only Libya and Syria
    Liberty is the right of entire Asia and Africa!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    Tired of the despot, corrupt and aged rulers
    The youth bade farewell to recruiters of bombers
    Ay! Cyber Generation, don't act like people after Saddam…
    Do not separate peace from Islam!

    The tyrants’re fleeing to the new palace of the old king…
    The last refuge of any disgraced barbaric regime!

    “My motherland'll vomit the fascist with big ego”
    I can hear the song of a Libyan shepherd
    Remove the unholy rulers from the Holly Land
    The world hears the chanting sand
    Kings, amirs, presidents and prime ministers
    Every chameleon and despot'll evaporate into air!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    People seek peace and prosperity
    A corruption-free country
    Citizens want to live with good grace
    Not like beasts—but as a human race!

    The song of liberty is deafening the oppressors around
    “Music is forbidden,” declares the king’s trusted cleric
    “Oppression is forbidden,” shouts the Arabian crowd
    “We want freedom. We want grace
    We want to live like a human race!”

    Behold, global players!
    Do you hear the music?
    The whirlwind of change has taken away people's fear
    Men and women're seeking no less than liberty
    Stop the pirates from hijacking the ship of dignity
    Right in the middle of the Arabian Sea!

    Abandon the theocratic, secular
    and military dictators everywhere!
    They’re sucking your blood like hookworms
    They’re making a hole in your soul
    And injured souls can’t be healed by crude oil!

    Let nightingales sing in the oasis freely
    Let rusted musical instruments come to life again
    Let arms go to hellfire not human beings
    Let peace triumph in the Middle East
    The Holly Land needs a graceful feast!

    Listen to the music
    Hay, hay, listen to…

    “We want freedom
    We want democracy”

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    ***

    Note: Anyone, who wants peace and real democracy in the Arab world, can use this poem, an instant reaction, in any way (with citation). Musicians and translators (especially Arabic) are most welcome. As global citizens, the users of the social media must raise the morale of the struggling Arab people.
    © Habib R. Sulemani

    More Plogs (Poetry Blogs)

    1. A blasphemy case in the court of God
    2. A tyrant has neither life nor a burial place in the changed world!
    3. Jesus and Hussain
    4. The Margalla Sunset — Happy New Year 2011
    5. An ode to my love
    6- Human Rights Day: how helpless God is today!


    Posted By Webmaster to THE TERRORLAND at 2/07/2011 12:20:00 AM
    http://theterrorland.blogspot.com/

  3. The Hawker Revolution — Arab world sings for democracy

    for Muhammad Bouazizi, a Tunisian street-hawker, whose tragic death acted as a catalyst for change

    By Habib Sulemani

    In solitary confinement,
    I can hear the song of liberty
    amid gunshots from the Arab world:

    "We want freedom
    We want democracy"

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    The melodious voices from the
    desert're intoxicating…
    It's compelling everybody—even the
    thundering guns're dancing!

    Azizi’s red blood has made the desert green
    This—history had never ever seen
    Trembling dynasties're crumbling…
    Hurray! Democracy is coming!

    Generals and mullahs: stay away!
    You've shed enough blood
    Lower your guns and loudspeakers…
    Let's dance to the tune of democracy!

    Let's sing the song of liberty
    Let’s dance for democracy

    Arabs want their lost dignity back…
    For ages they've been out of track…
    Now the helpless people've a ray of hope
    The oppressors can't cut the divine rope!

    It’s not the Arabian Nights' Entertainment era
    Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria—
    Everyone seeks freedom in the Arabian Peninsula
    Not only Libya and Syria
    Liberty is the right of entire Asia and Africa!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    Tired of the despot, corrupt and aged rulers
    The youth bade farewell to recruiters of bombers
    Ay! Cyber Generation, don't act like people after Saddam…
    Do not separate peace from Islam!

    The tyrants’re fleeing to the new palace of the old king…
    The last refuge of any disgraced barbaric regime!

    “My motherland'll vomit the fascist with big ego”
    I can hear the song of a Libyan shepherd
    Remove the unholy rulers from the Holly Land
    The world hears the chanting sand
    Kings, amirs, presidents and prime ministers
    Every chameleon and despot'll evaporate into air!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    People seek peace and prosperity
    A corruption-free country
    Citizens want to live with good grace
    Not like beasts—but as a human race!

    The song of liberty is deafening the oppressors around
    “Music is forbidden,” declares the king’s trusted cleric
    “Oppression is forbidden,” shouts the Arabian crowd
    “We want freedom. We want grace
    We want to live like a human race!”

    Behold, global players!
    Do you hear the music?
    The whirlwind of change has taken away people's fear
    Men and women're seeking no less than liberty
    Stop the pirates from hijacking the ship of dignity
    Right in the middle of the Arabian Sea!

    Abandon the theocratic, secular
    and military dictators everywhere!
    They’re sucking your blood like hookworms
    They’re making a hole in your soul
    And injured souls can’t be healed by crude oil!

    Let nightingales sing in the oasis freely
    Let rusted musical instruments come to life again
    Let arms go to hellfire not human beings
    Let peace triumph in the Middle East
    The Holly Land needs a graceful feast!

    Listen to the music
    Hay, hay, listen to…

    “We want freedom
    We want democracy”

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don't ask me: why!

    ***

    Note: Anyone, who wants peace and real democracy in the Arab world, can use this poem, an instant reaction, in any way (with citation). Musicians and translators (especially Arabic) are most welcome. As global citizens, the users of the social media must raise the morale of the struggling Arab people.
    © Habib R. Sulemani

    More Plogs (Poetry Blogs)

    1. A blasphemy case in the court of God
    2. A tyrant has neither life nor a burial place in the changed world!
    3. Jesus and Hussain
    4. The Margalla Sunset — Happy New Year 2011
    5. An ode to my love
    6- Human Rights Day: how helpless God is today!


    Posted By Webmaster to THE TERRORLAND at 2/07/2011 12:20:00 AM
    http://theterrorland.blogspot.com/

  4. The Hawker Revolution — Arab world sings for democracy

    for Muhammad Bouazizi, a Tunisian street-hawker, whose tragic death acted as a catalyst for change

    By Habib Sulemani

    In solitary confinement,
    I can hear the song of liberty
    amid gunshots from the Arab world:

    “We want freedom
    We want democracy”

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don’t ask me: why!

    The melodious voices from the
    desert’re intoxicating…
    It’s compelling everybody—even the
    thundering guns’re dancing!

    Azizi’s red blood has made the desert green
    This—history had never ever seen
    Trembling dynasties’re crumbling…
    Hurray! Democracy is coming!

    Generals and mullahs: stay away!
    You’ve shed enough blood
    Lower your guns and loudspeakers…
    Let’s dance to the tune of democracy!

    Let’s sing the song of liberty
    Let’s dance for democracy

    Arabs want their lost dignity back…
    For ages they’ve been out of track…
    Now the helpless people’ve a ray of hope
    The oppressors can’t cut the divine rope!

    It’s not the Arabian Nights’ Entertainment era
    Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria—
    Everyone seeks freedom in the Arabian Peninsula
    Not only Libya and Syria
    Liberty is the right of entire Asia and Africa!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don’t ask me: why!

    Tired of the despot, corrupt and aged rulers
    The youth bade farewell to recruiters of bombers
    Ay! Cyber Generation, don’t act like people after Saddam…
    Do not separate peace from Islam!

    The tyrants’re fleeing to the new palace of the old king…
    The last refuge of any disgraced barbaric regime!

    “My motherland’ll vomit the fascist with big ego”
    I can hear the song of a Libyan shepherd
    Remove the unholy rulers from the Holly Land
    The world hears the chanting sand
    Kings, amirs, presidents and prime ministers
    Every chameleon and despot’ll evaporate into air!

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don’t ask me: why!

    People seek peace and prosperity
    A corruption-free country
    Citizens want to live with good grace
    Not like beasts—but as a human race!

    The song of liberty is deafening the oppressors around
    “Music is forbidden,” declares the king’s trusted cleric
    “Oppression is forbidden,” shouts the Arabian crowd
    “We want freedom. We want grace
    We want to live like a human race!”

    Behold, global players!
    Do you hear the music?
    The whirlwind of change has taken away people’s fear
    Men and women’re seeking no less than liberty
    Stop the pirates from hijacking the ship of dignity
    Right in the middle of the Arabian Sea!

    Abandon the theocratic, secular
    and military dictators everywhere!
    They’re sucking your blood like hookworms
    They’re making a hole in your soul
    And injured souls can’t be healed by crude oil!

    Let nightingales sing in the oasis freely
    Let rusted musical instruments come to life again
    Let arms go to hellfire not human beings
    Let peace triumph in the Middle East
    The Holly Land needs a graceful feast!

    Listen to the music
    Hay, hay, listen to…

    “We want freedom
    We want democracy”

    Freedom is the music
    Freedom is the cry
    Don’t ask me: why!

    ***

    Note: Anyone, who wants peace and real democracy in the Arab world, can use this poem, an instant reaction, in any way (with citation). Musicians and translators (especially Arabic) are most welcome. As global citizens, the users of the social media must raise the morale of the struggling Arab people.
    © Habib R. Sulemani

    More Plogs (Poetry Blogs)

    1. A blasphemy case in the court of God
    2. A tyrant has neither life nor a burial place in the changed world!
    3. Jesus and Hussain
    4. The Margalla Sunset — Happy New Year 2011
    5. An ode to my love
    6- Human Rights Day: how helpless God is today!


    Posted By Webmaster to THE TERRORLAND at 2/07/2011 12:20:00 AM

    http://theterrorland.blogspot.com/