30 January 2011

Obama administration aligns itself with protests in Egypt with call for 'orderly transition' 30JAN11

THE latest positions of U.S. government officials on Egypt......
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 30, 2011; 8:53 PM

The Obama administration firmly aligned itself on Sunday with the protest movement that has overtaken Egypt, calling for an "orderly transition" to a more representative government amid rising U.S. concern that the demonstrations are turning violent and that unrest could spread across the Arab world.
In telephone calls to Egyptian and regional leaders, President Obama and his top national security advisers tried to reassure them that their countries remain vital U.S. strategic partners, while warning that the political status quo is not sustainable.
Senior administration officials said that the "transition" wording, used by both the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was carefully chosen to indicate a desire for a representative, interim government to run Egypt until scheduled presidential elections are held in September.
Clinton, who appeared on five morning television shows to convey the message, resisted invitations to call explicitly for President Hosni Mubarak, in power for three decades, to stand down. "Both existing and any new members of any government" need to take "concrete steps toward democratic and economic reform," Clinton said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"We are not advocating any specific outcome," she added. But "it needs to be done immediately, with a process that brings people to the table, and that the Egyptian people can see."
Saying that "no one is satisfied" with the steps Mubarak has taken since the protests for political and economic freedom began, Clinton said a transition process was needed "so that no one fills a void . . . what we don't want is chaos." The reference was to fears that radicals will move to take over what thus far have been largely secular protests.
As the administration struggled to move ahead of the situation, its efforts seemed still to leave it one step behind. The shift in message had no visible effect in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, where massive anti-government protests continued for a sixth straight day and demonstrators were still reacting to Obama's earlier call for Mubarak to adopt reforms.
That advice, pro-democracy activist and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said, had landed "like lead" in the Egyptian capital.
"To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years in power is an oxymoron," ElBaradei said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "It will not end until Mubarak leaves."
The administration "has been way behind the curve," said former Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher, a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "So far, they're just reacting. They're looking at it from two prisms - the need for stability . . . and the peace process in Israel.
"This is not about Israel," Muasher said. "I wish for once the United States would just leave Israel out of this and look at it for what it is. People are fed up with corruption, and they want a better government." Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab governments to have made peace with Israel, are central players in the faltering U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Egyptian military, which deployed into cities last week as uniformed police inexplicably disappeared, continued to deal gently with the demonstrators Sunday and to assist self-appointed citizen patrols in chasing down marauding bands of looters and knife-wielding thugs. The military's ultimate role remained unclear, however, as F-16 fighter jets streaked through the skies in an apparent show of force, and uniformed military leaders appeared alongside Mubarak on state-run television.
The State Department announced Sunday that it would evacuate diplomatic families and nonessential U.S. Embassy personnel aboard charter flights. It also said that the flights, to begin Monday, would be available to any U.S. citizen who wanted to leave Egypt. Americans flooded State Department switchboards with appeals from relatives and friends in Egypt who said that overworked telephone lines and a government shutdown of the Internet had prevented them from getting in touch with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Pentagon spokesmen said that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had telephoned their Egyptian counterparts. In his conversation with Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, Mullen "expressed his appreciation for the continued professionalism of the Egyptian military," according to Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen. "Both men reaffirmed their desire to see the partnership between our two militaries continue."
Gates also spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The White House said that Obama on Saturday spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. On Sunday, he spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
In each of his calls, the White House said, Obama "reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."
Cameron, in a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called on Mubarak "to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians."
The statement also urged Mubarak to begin political reforms, including the formation of a "broadly-based government and free and fair elections."
Several senior administration officials, none of whom would describe internal deliberations on events in Egypt and the region on the record, declined to discuss whether the United States was involved in any efforts to seek a haven for Mubarak outside of Egypt, and spoke of the dual imperatives for U.S. policy.
"We do think there are trends in the region that, frankly, have long pointed to the need for political reforms to make governments more responsive," one official said. "A lot of countries have very large youth populations and longstanding calls for political, economic and social reform."
"We are also aware that Egypt is a country historically at the heart of the Arab world, and incredibly important in terms of the example that emanates from there," he said. The administration's imperative, this official and others said, is to recognize that a process needs to unfold in Egypt to handle change before chaos envelopes its streets and potentially spills over into other countries.
At the same time, the United States has to act in a way that recognizes long and important strategic partnerships in the region, officials said.
In its efforts to stay abreast of the chaotic situation in Egypt, the administration appealed to officials across the U.S. government to use any contacts they have there. "If you have relationships," they were told, "now is the time to be pulsing them to get their read" on what is happening there, the official said.
But even as they tried to respond quickly, officials acknowledged that their influence was limited. "There's only so much we can do to affect the situation on the ground," a second official said. "What I have found amusing is that civil society contacts and friends have called me with outrage and complaints," saying that administration statements weren't responsive enough to their legitimate demands.
At the same time, this official said, "government people and Arabs on the ground" were calling to say "you're trying to push Mubarak out."
"We're getting complaints from both sides," he said. "But the bottom line to keep in mind is that we have big strategic interests there." Egypt, he said, "is not Tunisia," where similar protests earlier this month drove the president from power.

End repression of expression: Free Liu Xiaobo from AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 30JAN11

THE people of Egypt are on the verge of realizing true freedom and democracy for their country...but all around the world there are governments fighting to maintain their hold on power by denying their people their human rights......we can not forget these people. Please click the header to sign this petition from Amnesty International calling on the government of the prc to free Liu Xiaobo and end their repression of human rights for all their citizens.

Dr Liu Xiaobo, prominent Chinese literary scholar, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 8 October 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. He has dedicated the Nobel Peace Prize “to all those who have sacrificed their lives in non-violent struggle for peace, democracy and freedom”.

On 10 December, his seat at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony remained empty because he is in prison for "inciting subversion".

This is the fourth time Liu Xiaobo has been detained as a prisoner of conscience.

He was first detained after the 1989 pro-democracy movement. For Liu Xiaobo, like many others of his generation, June 1989 was
a “major turning point”. Since then, he has written prolifically, criticizing corruption, censorship and one-party rule and advocating the development of a democratic multi-party political system in China.

He served as the President of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre from 2003 to 2007. He co-authored Charter 08, which calls for effective protection of universal human rights and democratic reform.

Although best known for his calls for political reform, Liu Xiaobo has also defended other human rights. He has spoken out against
discrimination faced by migrant workers and people living with HIV/AIDS. He has also defended workers protesting against corrupt

Sign a petition to the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and Minister of Justice Wu Aiying.

We, the undersigned, are outraged that Dr Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, remains in prison in China. Following an unfair trial, a Beijing court sentenced Liu Xiaobo to 11 years’ imprisonment on 25 December 2009 on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Liu Xiaobo was convicted for his role in drafting Charter 08, a proposal for legal and political reform in China, initially signed by 300 scholars, lawyers, and officials. More than 10,000 people have added their names to Charter 08 after it was published online on 9 December 2008. The court also said Liu Xiaobo engaged in “rumour mongering, slander and smear” that exceeded the limits of freedom of expression and constituted a criminal offence, citing six articles in which he criticized official corruption, censorship, and one-party rule.

Liu Xiaobo has consistently maintained that he is innocent. Whilst admitting writing the articles listed in the indictment and the verdict, he says he was simply exercising his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in China’s constitution. We agree.

We believe that the ongoing imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo runs counter to the spirit and letter of China’s Constitution. Article 35 grants Chinese citizens freedom of speech. Article 41 states that citizens have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary. The Constitution also grants the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress power to grant special pardons. We urge you to use this power and release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally.   

Freedoms of expression, association and assembly are also guaranteed in international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed and repeatedly expressed an intention to ratify.

Image: Demonstration calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo in front of the Chinese embassy in Oslo, Norway, 9 December 2010. ©Greg Rødland Buick

Opposition Leader ElBaradei: Threat of Muslim Brotherhood Is A ‘Myth’ Lacking ‘One Iota Of Reality’ from THINK PROGRESS 30JAN11

WE are faced with uncertainty regarding the outcome of the revolution in Egypt because of the lies, deception and propaganda of neo-cons (as in con men) like john bolton and thaddeus mccotter and all the greedy manipulators of the military-industrial complex who are more interested in the profitability of war than in countries living in peace so they can devote more of their budgets to feeding, educating, housing, health care and economic development for their people. A democratic Egypt will not be interested in formenting  strife with Israel or any other neighbors, it will not be interested in hosting terrorist organizations to operate from it's territory. A democratic Egypt (and Tunisia and Yemen and hopefully others in the region) will want to devote their resources to rebuilding their nations after decades of being pillaged and and abused by dictatorships that were supported by war-mongering profiteers.
I am reading 'Ghost Wars', a fascinating book to be reading while all this is developing in across the Maghreb and Yemen. The chapter I was reading today includes the decision in 1995 to close the American embassy in Khartoum. Included are the thoughts of the then U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Timothy Carney, and they provide a warning to the U.S. government in relations to the the developments in North Africa and Yemen. Ambassador Carney advocated direct engagement with governments and political organizations. To quote, "The United States could reduce the threat of Islamic radicalism if it learned to interact with Islamist in more sophisticated ways, distinguishing between peaceful movements of religious revival and those bent on violence. Instead it was (is) clinging to alliances in the Middle East with corrupt, failing secular regimes such as Egypt's, which encouraged (encourages) Washington to lump all Islamic political groups into one 'terrorist' camp."
This from ThinkProgress.....
Thousands of Egyptians continue to take to the streets in protest of President Hosani Mubarak’s 30-year-long authoritarian regime. But while the Obama Administration inches towards public support for the Egyptian people, many Republican hardliners are throwing up roadblocks to U.S. endorsement of democratic reform. Their delusion-du-jour? The threat of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Those who subscribe to Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s (R-MI) and Amb. John Bolten’s fear-mongering warn that the inevitable result of this pro-democracy movement will be the enfranchisement of the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-American “jihadist nutjobs.”
Today on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, former International Atomic Energy Agency director, Egyptian activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei blasted the delusion as a “myth” lacking “one iota of reality.” Intimately familiar with both Iranian and Egyptian politics, ElBaradei pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is not actually an extremist group and the idea that extremists would takeover the government is just a myth “perpetuated and sold” by the Mubarak regime:
ZAKARIA: One of the visions that haunts Americans is of the Iranian Revolution where a dictator was replaced by an even worse regime that was more anti-American and more threatening to the region. People worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. Are you confident that a post-Mubarak Egypt will not give rise to some kind of Islamic fundamentalist force that will undermine the democracy of Egypt?
ELBARADEI: I’m quite confident of that, Fareed. This is a myth that was sold by the Mabarak regime, that it’s either us — the ruthless dictators — or a Muslim al-Qaeda type. The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian movement, has nothing to do with extremism as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of credibility because of liberal parties have been a struggle for thirty years. They are in favor of a secular state. they are of –they are in favor of an institution that have bread lines, they are in favor that every Egyptian have the same rights, that the state is in no way a state based on religion. And I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are as much a part of society as the markets that started here. I think this is a myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime and has no iota of reality. You know Fareed, I worked with Iranians, I’ve worked here. It’s 100 percent difference between the two societies.
Watch it:

While the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood had supported violence at one time, the conservative group is “Egypt’s largest opposition group” and “has disavowed violence and sought to participate in Egyptian politics” legitimately since the 1970s. Now allied with legal Egyptian political groups and tied to Egyptian professional unions, university campuses, and social welfare programs, the Brotherhood is a “peaceful” group that “could draw moderate Muslims who identify with [its] ideology to participate in electoral politics, thereby isolating violent jihadis.” Indeed, the Brotherhood denounced a recent terrorist attack in Egypt as a “cowardly act” and is not on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list.
Though banned by Mubarak’s regime from participating in parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood has 17 supportive representatives in the Egyptian Parliament and is supporting ElBaradei’s leadership role in forming a new government without Mubarak. ElBaradei, who is now in Cairo to join the protests, called on Mubarak to resign “today” to allow for a “smooth transition to a national unity government to be followed by all the measures set in place for a free and fair election.” While avoiding support of his ouster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea of fair elections today.

What's Happening in Egypt Explained (UPDATED) frpm MOJO 30JAN11

TODAY'S UPDATES IN THE WHAT'S HAPPENING IN EGYPT EXPLAINED BLOG (click the header or use the link on this blog to go there) start with update 70, and include the news of an opposition shadow government being formed, including Mohamed El Baradei.

29 January 2011

Our Military Spending and Spiritual Death from SOJO 27JAN 11

FROM SOJO, a honest statement on what our government must do to address the budgetary and economic crisis we are facing....
In Tuesday evening’s generally well-received State of the Union speech, President Obama appealed to the center with talk of reducing the deficit and controlling federal spending.  He had many good ideas about investing in education, innovation, and clean energy. But while all of that is important, one concrete proposal raises problems.
The president urged that annual domestic spending be frozen for the next five years, even though, as he noted, domestic spending is only about 12 percent of the budget (or about $400 billion per year). There are 44 million people still in poverty and the number is increasing. There are 14.5 million people unemployed and another 11.5 million working part-time because they can’t find a full time job, or who have given up on looking for work. The U.S. population growth is about 2.5 million per year; five years from now there will 12.5 million additional people. A “freeze” in reality will mean drastic reductions in what will be necessary to meet the basic expenses of government and the needs of people. It has been said here before, but is worth saying again: Domestic spending is not the cause of our deficit.
The annual military budget, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is about $725 billion, $3 billion per week. Including the related costs of veterans benefits, other security-related spending, nuclear weapons spending, intelligence spending; the total exceeds $1 trillion per year. Yet all that was mentioned in the State of the Union about that was, “The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.” No specific cuts, not even a commitment to a freeze.
More than 40 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” With the trajectory we’re on, we will be more than just approaching spiritual death in 2015 — we’ll be almost there. And proposals to cut government spending that do not include significant cuts in military spending are contributing to that death.
Duane Shank is senior policy advisor at Sojourners.

Gay Hero Murdered in Uganda -- It's Time for the U.S. to Act 27JAN11

THE silence of the American government on this horrible murder in Uganda is indefensible. At the least the American ambassador should be speaking out, condemning the atmosphere of hate and intolerance that has developed in Uganda concerning the LGBT community allowing this to happen. No matter what your views are concerning gays, nobody deserves to die like this. Maybe this will turn into Uganda's Matthew Shepherd moment.....but I fear not, not without prodding by responsible government officials in Kampala and not without a statement from the American government. Let the Ugandan government know how you feel about this brutal murder by e mailing them at 

Yesterday, David Kato, a gay man in Uganda, was reportedly bludgeoned to death in his own home by a neighbor with a hammer.
David had spoken out for gay rights, was one of the high profile plaintiffs who successfully sued Uganda's Rolling Stone for publishing a list of 100 "homos" and calling for their death. He lost his life because he publicly stood up for equality. But no one in the government of Uganda has taken the same risk as David.
The U.S. government refuses to stand up for people like David too -- to take action forcing Uganda to protect human rights.
Just miles away from where David was murdered, Jerry P. Lanier, U.S. ambassador to Uganda, lives quietly. He might know, by now, about the violent death David faced, but he has not spoken out in David's defense, he has not acted in David's honor.
The time for negotiation and polite public statements is over.
The United States needs to force the Ugandan government to stand up for its LGBT citizens. It needs to demand that government officials publicly support LGBT rights, abandon their pursuit of the gay death penalty bill, fully investigate David's murder and arrest the culprit.
If the Ugandan government refuses, the U.S. needs to cut all foreign aid to Uganda.
The violent pursuit of minorities is a familiar theme in world history. Too many times, the international community fails to act effectively to prevent violence, hate and genocide. Today, we are given the chance to avoid making the same mistake again.
The horror of David's last minutes of life must be matched by the effectiveness of our response. Only direct action by the U.S. government can change the fate of the thousands of Ugandan citizens under threat every day.
We must accept nothing less.


THIS blog feed started on Tuesday 25JAN11 and has some great updates, video and links to follow the revolution in Egypt.....Here is some great video of the Egyptian Army trying prevent violence between protesters and the police in Cairo near Liberation Square

Sea Shepherd E-News - Lock, Stock, and Smoking Harpoon Gun 27JAN11

SEA SHEPHERD newsletter with stories on Operation No Compromise and the continuing slaughter of dolphins at the Cove in Taiji, Japan. If you can send them some support.....
Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd E-Newsletter
Defending Ocean Wildlife Worldwide

We are winning the whale wars! Our current Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation No Compromise, is halfway over and at this rate, more whales will be saved this year than in any year past.  

This is an epic endeavor to end whaling once and for all in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and we are not only winning the battles - we are winning the war. As a Sea Shepherd supporter, you are an integral part of this historic and noble effort, but your continued support is needed now more than ever as we carry out our most perilous and crucial action to date.  

Nisshin Maru - Found - Whaling Fleet Crippled!
We delivered a catastrophic blow to the Japanese whalers this week when we found their mother ship - the infamous Nisshin Maru factory ship!

Now their operations are halted and the whaling fleet belongs to us - lock, stock, and smoking harpoon gun... (more)

 Nisshin Maru - Japanese whaling factory ship
Halfway Through Operation No Compromise

This year's Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign is turning out to be our most successful year ever in defense of the whales!

The whaling fleet is weaker than ever, and Sea Shepherd is stronger than ever. Already this year, the whaling fleet was three weeks late in arriving to the sanctuary, and it came with only four ships, whereas last year it had seven total. Sea Shepherd returned far stronger this time, with three vessels and a faster, longer-range helicopter. We have had many successes in the campaign thus far - and it's only halfway over!

The Steve Irwin and a whale
Sea Shepherd Galapagos - Shark Education Project
Ron the sharkThis is Ron "el tiburón" (the shark). He is a Galapagos shark who has come from the depths of the sea to tell us about the magical world of sharks. His mission is to to create awareness among the local youth in Ecuador about the importance of sharks in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Want to learn more?
Cove Guardian Daily Reports

Cove GuardiansAre you aware of what's going on in the Cove in Taiji, Japan? Every year from September through March, hundreds, if not thousands, of dolphins are captured for marine parks and the ones who don't qualify are slaughtered for their meat, which is incredibly high in Mercury and PCBs.

For the first time ever, this six-month mass slaughter is being documented with daily written reports, photos, and video conducted by our Cove Guardians who are on the ground in Taiji. The entire world must know the extent of this legal bloodbath. The more attention we bring to it, the greater the international pressure will be to stop the insanity. Read the reports!
Campaign Gear in our e-Stores

Operation No Compromise gear       past campaign gear

We are only able to do what we do because of our passionate onshore and offshore volunteers, and a solid, loyal base of international supporters. You make our mission of defending ocean wildlife worldwide possible. Please continue to support Sea Shepherd in the coming months, so that we may persist in our efforts and become increasingly progressive and effective. Thank-you!

For the oceans,

Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President
Captain Watson with Nisshin Maru in background

A victorious week for
the whales!

Learn about the
latest developments in
Op No Compromise
with news, blogs, pics, video, and more!
Sea Shop
"At the Edge of the World" video

Winner of several international awards,  
is a must-see documentary for all supporters of Captain Watson and his crew!


Captain's Commentary
Captain Paul Watson

Nisshin Maru found - video link

The Japanese whaling
factory ship Nisshin  
Maru is found!

Captain Watson speaking at the podium

Our onshore volunteers
work very hard to throw
fundraisers and events
that bring awareness and
support for our mission.

Find out if an upcoming event is being held in
your neck of the woods.
Follow Us


Direct Action CrewOperation No Compromise Takes Direct Action!
Join our Direct Action Crew and get a FREE t-shirt!
Put your donations directly to work protecting marine wildlife in peril! When you join the Direct Action Crew, our automated recurring giving program, you help us save on administration expenses, which allows us to put more money straight to our campaigns. As a token of our appreciation for your action, we'll send you a free Sea Shepherd Classic t-shirt. Sign up online!
United States Supporters
Want mobile alerts?  Text OCEAN to 27138

Charity Navigator four star rating

In Tunisia, Women Play Equal Role In Revolution 27JAN11

I hope and pray the women of Tunisia's faith in the men of their country is correct and they don't have to worry about loosing their rights but will remain vital, active participants in the new democratic government both men and women fought for. From NPR...
A woman participates in a demonstration in Tunis on January 22, 2011.
Martin Bureau /AFP/Getty Images A woman participates in a demonstration in Tunis on January 22, 2011.
Female voices rang out loud and clear during massive protests that brought down the authoritarian rule of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
Women in Tunisia are unique in the Arab world for enjoying near equality with men. And they are anxious to maintain their status.
In Tunis, old ladies, young girls and women in black judges robes marched down the streets demanding that the dictator leave.
Hardly anyone wears the Muslim headscarf in the capital, and women seem to be everywhere, taking part in everything, alongside men.
'Free And More Civilized'
Irgui Najet, 36, argues with a group of men on the sidewalk, defending the country's provisional leaders. She does more than hold her own. The men are so impressed with her knowledge, they tell her she should run for president. No one seems to think being a woman is a hindrance.
Najet, a criminal lawyer, explains the difference between Tunisian women and their sisters in the rest of the Arab world.
"We feel more free and more civilized than other Arab women," she says. "And especially since our revolution, we pity the women in neighboring countries. Look at Libya where they have to wear headscarves and can't even talk with men. This is a catastrophe."
Soon Najet meets up with her lawyer colleagues and everyone is absorbed in heady conversation about Tunisia's revolution. One-third of the country's judges are said to be female.
Just look at how Tunisian women stood side-by-side with Tunisian men. They came out to the streets to protest in headscarves. They came out in miniskirts. It doesn't matter. They were there.
Tunisian women have the same rights to divorce as men, and polygamy is illegal. Women here have had access to birth control since 1962 and have had access to abortion since 1965 — eight years before Roe v. Wade gave American women the same right.
Many Tunisian women now say they are concerned about the potential return of Islamist parties banned under Ben Ali. But Asma Belkassem, a 31-year-old lawyer, says she's not scared.
"What is sure is that we women have rights in Tunisia," she says. "And no one can take them away now. Not the Islamists or anybody else."
Tunisian women credit a 1956 civil rights code for their many freedoms and equality, as well as an excellent education system that is open to all.
They also thank former President Habib Bourguiba, their founding father who led the independence struggle from France and wanted women to play a full role in Tunisian society. No one gives an ounce of credit to Ben Ali.
'Women Will Remain Vigilant'
Khadija Cherif, a long-time feminist activist, says Ben Ali pretended to support women's rights to please the West. The return of Islamist parties to Tunisian politics could pose a threat, she says, but women will remain vigilant.
Irgui Najet stands in front of the Bar Association. Women in Tunisia are unique in the Arab world for enjoying near equality  with men. And they are anxious to maintain their status.
Eleanor Beardsley/NPR Irgui Najet stands in front of the Bar Association. Women in Tunisia are unique in the Arab world for enjoying near equality with men. And they are anxious to maintain their status.
"The force of the Tunisian feminist movement is that we've never separated it from the fight for democracy and a secular society," she says. "We will continue our combat, which is to make sure that religion remains completely separate from politics."
Back at the courthouse, lawyer Bilel Larbi has joined his female colleagues. He says the best way to measure relations between the sexes in Tunisia is to look at the demonstrations over the last month.
"Just look at how Tunisian women stood side-by-side with Tunisian men," he says. "They came out to the streets to protest in headscarves. They came out in miniskirts. It doesn't matter. They were there."
Larbi says after rising up to overthrow the dictator together, Tunisian men aren't about to let anyone take away the freedoms of Tunisian women.

Related NPR Stories

Bradley Manning: Nat'l White House call-in day Thurs. Feb. 3; Military statements 'patently false'; Amnesty Int'l voices concerns 29JAN11 & Military statements regarding Bradley Manning "patently false" 28JAN11

UPDATES ON BRADLEY MANNING  from the Bradlel Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist, statement from Amnesty International concerning his treatment to Sec of Defense Robert Gates and information on the National Call The White Hose for Bradley Manning day action on 3FEB11.
Replacement of Quantico brig commander provides military opportunity to end mistreatment of alleged WikiLeaks whistle-blower

By the Bradley Manning Support Network

QUANTICO, Virginia, 28 January 2011 -- Supporters of accused WikiLeaks whistleblower US Army PFC Bradley Manning are calling for Manning's detention status to be changed from maximum to medium security, that the "prevention of injury" (POI) order be lifted, and for the military to cease using "suicide watch" for punitive purposes. Without cause, Manning is the only inmate at Quantico subjected to either "max" confinement or POI. The lifting of these classifications would allow Manning to move outside his cell without restraints, perform jobs within the brig and have social interaction with other inmates.

This week the Marine Corps replaced brig commander Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4) James Averhart with Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO2) Denise Barnes, stating that the change was a pre-planned rotation that was not "situationally driven."

"Pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a servicemember's presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Bradley Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of the maximum classification and the 'prevention of injury' order. We certainly hope that the new Quantico brig commander will finally treat Manning as other inmates," stated Jeff Paterson, Oakland, California-based project director of Courage to Resist and a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

"There have been consistent abuses of discretion in the case of Bradley Manning," said Kevin Zeese, a Washington DC attorney and steering committee member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. "The previous commander abused his discretion so that Manning was punished rather than being treated like a typical pre-trial detainee. We have seen consistent cruel and unusual punishment of Manning."

Bradley Manning's attorney, David Coombs of Rhode Island, filed a complaint last week asserting that CWO4 James Averhart abused his discretion by placing Manning on an unjustified, punitive suicide watch regime for two days immediately after 150 supporters of Manning's rallied at Quantico's main entrance on Martin Luther King, Jr. day.

Coombs yesterday catalogued in detail the fact that Manning's conditions of pre-trial confinement have been radically different than what has been described by military spokespersons.

"Despite the assertion of Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, PFC Bradley Manning is not being treated like every other detainee at the Quantico brig. Morrell stated during today's Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning's 'confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.' This statement is patently false," notes Coombs on his blog. Coombs also explained that his client was the only detainee at Quantico held under the maximum custody regime or the highly-restrictive "prevention of injury watch" order.

Concerns for Manning's human rights have been rising this week. Amnesty International wrote Defense Secretary Gates urging a review of Manning's pre-trial confinement conditions, a former commander at Quantico raised questions about the unusual conditions, and Manning's confinement was addressed in a White House press briefing. Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture continues to investigate the situation.

Over 50,000 people from around the world have already helped pay $110,000 toward Manning's legal defense, signed the public "We Stand with Bradley Manning" statement that will become a full-page New York Times newspaper ad, and/or have signed an online petition in support of Manning's human rights.

"If we're to believe the charges against Bradley Manning, it's clear that this is a textbook example of a whistle-blower acting in the interests of an informed democracy. He certainly deserves support," added supporter Jeff Paterson.

# # #


Bradley Manning Support Network website

"We stand with Bradley Manning" statement

"PFC Bradley Manning Is Not Being Treated Like Every Other Detainee"
By Manning's attorney David Coombs, 26 January 2011

DoD Transcript regarding Bradley Manning, 26 January 2011

Amnesty International to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 19 January 2011
manningNat'l White House call-in day to support Bradley Manning, Feb. 3
Call 202-456-1414 Thursday to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army PFC Bradley Manning. Express your concern that his human rights need to be respected by the Quantico VA brig authorities.
Military statements "patently false"
Bradley Manning is not being treated like other inmates! This week's replacement of Quantico brig commander provides military opportunity to end abuse.
Amnesty International protests abuse
Program Director Susan Lee, Americas Regional Program, writes open letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Manning's lawyer describes confinement (link only)
Attorney David Coombs explains, "[Bradley Manning] is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions. What is the difference?"

Nat'l White House call-in day to support Bradley Manning, Thursday, February 3rd
i am bradWhite House switchboard:

Or, White House comments:
Bradley Manning Support Network
Call the White House Thursday, February 3, 2011, to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning. Express your concern that Bradley's human rights need to be respected by the Quantico, Virginia, brig authorities.
Bradley has been held in solitary confinement-like conditions for over eight months, and his trial is still months away. This American citizen-soldier has been convicted of no crime, yet continues to endure inhumane conditions of pre-trial confinement like no other inmate at the Marine Corps brig at Quantico. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently stated that the White House was not paying attention to Bradley Manning's extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recently pre-approved visitors of Bradley's have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit. It is critical that we educate the White House of this ongoing injustice!
Read the recommended points to make...

Military statements regarding Bradley Manning "patently false"
manningReplacement of Quantico brig commander provides military opportunity to end mistreatment of alleged WikiLeaks whistle-blower
"[Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff] Morrell stated during today's Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning's 'confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.' This statement is patently false." -Attorney David Coombs
By the Bradley Manning Support Network. 28 January 2011
QUANTICO, Virginia, -- Supporters of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning are calling for Manning's detention status to be changed from maximum to medium security, that the "prevention of injury" (POI) order be lifted, and for the military to cease using "suicide watch" for punitive purposes. Without cause, Manning is the only inmate at Quantico subjected to either "max" confinement or POI. The lifting of these classifications would allow Manning to move outside his cell without restraints, perform jobs within the brig and have social interaction with other inmates.
This week the Marine Corps replaced brig commander Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CWO4) James Averhart with Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO2) Denise Barnes, stating that the change was a pre-planned rotation that was not "situationally driven.
"Pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a servicemember's presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Bradley Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of the maximum classification and the 'prevention of injury' order. We certainly hope that the new Quantico brig commander will finally treat Manning as other inmates," stated Jeff Paterson, Oakland, California-based project director of Courage to Resist and a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Write a personal appeal for Bradley's human rights to:
  • Quantico Base Commander; Colonel Daniel Choike; 3250 Catlin Avenue, Quantico VA 22134; +1-703-432-0289 (Media Officer phone)
  • Quantico Brig Commanding Officer; CWO2 Denise Barnes; 3247 Elrod Avenue, Quantico VA 22134. Note that CWO2 Barnes replaced CWO4 Averhart on January 24, 2011.

Amnesty Int'l protests Bradley Manning abuse
aiBy Susan Lee, Amnesty International Program Director, Americas Regional Program. January 19, 2011
Dear Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, I am writing to express concern about the conditions under which Private First Class (PFC) Bradley Manning is detained at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.
We are informed that, since July 2010, PFC Manning has been confined for 23 hours a day to a single cell, measuring around 72 square feet (6.7 square metres) and equipped only with a bed, toilet and sink. There is no window to the outside, the only view being on to a corridor through the barred doors of his cell. All meals are taken in his cell, which we are told has no chair or table. He has no association or contact with other pre-trial detainees and he is allowed to exercise, alone, for just one hour a day, in a day-room or outside.

Recently highlighted articles


Help us block drilling in a Colorado wildlife refuge from the NRDC 28JAN11

THE government has to do more to support clean, renewable energy sources. Allowing drilling in the Baca National Wildlife Refuge does nothing to meet the goals of eliminating our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. Please click the header or links to participate in this action from the NRDC.
NRDC BioGems

We need your help right away to stop two energy companies from drilling in Colorado’s Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

You’ve already helped us stop them once. In 2009, your letters of opposition helped block oil and gas exploration in the refuge.

But now those companies are back with a new plan: to drill exploratory wells up to 14,000 feet beneath this incredible wildlife haven.

Please send a message right away to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Tell them NOT to approve any drilling in the Baca Refuge until they conduct a more thorough study of the far-reaching environmental impacts of drilling.

The Baca Refuge is an important calving ground for deer and elk and provides a natural sanctuary for imperiled wildlife, including the ferruginous hawk, the threatened burrowing owl and the sandhill crane, as well as thousands of migratory bird species.

More than 4,000 elk depend on the refuge for critical winter habitat and calving grounds, and as many as 20,000 greater sandhill cranes migrate through the refuge twice a year.

The Baca is also culturally irreplaceable. Hundreds of Native American artifacts lie buried under ancient layers of sand, and world-class archeological sites dating back 11,500 years have been found nearby.

All of that could be destroyed in a matter of months. The proposed drilling project threatens to transform this wildland into an industrial zone -- contaminating air, land and waterways and unleashing a barrage of drilling-related traffic and noise.

Your activism helped us keep drill rigs out of the Baca Refuge in the past. Please help protect this natural treasure once again by urging the Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a much more thorough study before approving any drilling.

Thank you for helping to protect our last remaining western wildlands.

Peter Lehner
Executive Director
Natural Resources Defense Council

Arab unrest spreads as thousands protest in Yemen 28JAN11

THE American government can not afford to ignore the peaceful protest for freedom and democracy in Yemen. Again, we are guilty of allowing the American military-industrial complex to dictate our foreign policy based on the profits of war because for these corporations war is profitable and they don't care who is hurt, who suffers, as long as their profits increase. Americans pay for this with our tax dollars and with the blood of our military, citizens of other countries pay for this with their blood shed by their repressive governments and through poverty, hunger, sickness, lack of education and the total denial of their human rights. The people of Yemen, as well as the people of Tunisia and Egypt have had enough, and the American government must join with them and support their struggle for freedom, for democracy, for their human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Failure to do so will cause history to judge us poorly, more importantly we will face many more threats to our security, economically and militarily, by supporting and maintaining the status quo.
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service

SANAA, YEMEN - Inspired by the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets Thursday demanding an end to the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled this impoverished Middle Eastern nation for more than three decades.
The rally, one of the largest demonstrations in this capital in recent memory, unfolded in four neighborhoods. Protesters wore pink scarves and pink bandannas and clutched pink placards. Some described their struggle as the "Pink Revolution," an allusion to Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution.
"Thirty-two years is enough. Tunisia revolted after 23 years," some chanted.
"Look at Tunisia with pride," others chanted. "Yemen has strong people, too."
Yemen's unrest represents a widening of the upheavals unfolding across the Arab world. It poses yet another threat to the stability of this U.S. ally, which al-Qaeda militants are using as a base to target the West and its allies.
The protests followed two days of riots in Egypt and daily demonstrations on the streets of the Tunisian capital, Tunis. But unlike the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Thursday's rally here was peaceful and organized. Fueled by boisterous opposition party members, from socialists to Islamists, and youth activists, the protests seemed designed to send a carefully calibrated message of regime change rather than to incite chaos.
Protesters shut down streets, sang songs and shouted patriotic slogans, as soldiers and riot police wearing helmets and carrying batons and shields watched. Security was tight around the capital.
"This is a military state, not a democracy," said Manna Fatah, a university professor. "After 32 years, it is time for change. We want a bloodless revolution."
The poorest country in the Middle East, Yemen is struggling with many of the same problems faced by other Arab nations, including high unemployment, low wages, rising prices and widespread corruption. In addition to the threat posed by al-Qaeda's Yemen branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the weak government is grappling with a rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.
"The people are suffering," said Khalil al-Mikhlafi, 27, who works in microfinance. "When I was a teacher, I earned $150 a month. There is too much corruption, too much neglect."
"The Yemeni people used to be silent," he added a few moments later. "Now they want to explode. They have lost their patience."
In an effort to defuse the unrest, Saleh in a televised speech raised the salaries of the army and denied accusations that he was trying to anoint his son as his successor. He also ordered income taxes cut in half and sought adequate controls on inflation. But Yemenis from all walks of life, from the poor to the middle class, have taken to the streets over the past two weeks, calling for Saleh's removal. It is a demand that few citizens in the past would have dared to utter.
More than 10,000 protesters descended on Hurriyah (Freedom) Street outside the campus ofSanaa University on Thursday. Witnesses said a similar number, if not more, gathered in the capital's Hasabah enclave, near the house of the former leader of Islah, the nation's major Islamist party. Thousands more gathered at the two other locations.
A pro-government rally in the capital, also held at four locations, attracted far fewer supporters.
Mohammed al-Basha, a Yemeni government spokesman, said there were no major clashes or arrests, and he described the police presence as minimal. "The government of the Republic of Yemen strongly respects the democratic right for a peaceful assembly," Basha said in a statement.
The many grievances against the government were on full display on Hurriyah Street. Some protesters carried signs that read: "Our stomachs ache. There is no bread." Others carried signs that denounced Saleh and his family's efforts to remain in power.
Opposition leaders over megaphones spoke angrily about the country's high poverty rate, corruption and the lack of jobs, even for college graduates.
"My life is difficult," said Mahmoud Ali, 20, a pink scarf wrapped around his neck. "I have no job. The prices of everything - food, transportation - are rising. What's happening in Tunisia and Egypt has encouraged us to come out and demand our rights."
As he spoke, the crowds began to chant once again:
"The people want the president replaced. Live free, Yemen."
Nearby, Abdul Hafidh al-Dhurafi, 30, a teacher, shouted to be heard. "We will continue to protest until there's change," he declared, his hands balling up into a fist.