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Life Talk!

Dictatorship

Dorothee

Dorothee

Germany

Well, I'm interested in foreign countries (especially developing countries) and in some political subjects aswell. Now my question is: How many dictatorships do still exist? Which states are still ruled by dictators? Without thinking much I only remember some states discriminating againgst ethnic minorities or women,-please read also the comments under the photo http://www.englishbaby.com/findfriends/view_photo/580782 to understand what I mean-but I don't know the exact number of undemocratic countries that still exist. I just want to know!

03:38 PM Nov 16 2010 |

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braveheart2010

Egypt

The Guardian Report about the Egyptian Elections next sunday:

Egyptian elections: independents fight for hearts and minds in 'fixed ballot'

Muslim Brotherhood and rivals raise profiles for Sunday's vote, but without hope of unseating ruling NDP

    • Egyptian backing the  nation's National Democratic party At an elections rally in Mit Nama, 12 miles north of Cairo, National Democratic party supporters display a picture of their candidate, Mugahed Nassar. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The cramped alleys of Kirdasa do not lend themselves to easy passage. With a mass of broken and dusty rocks below and a tangle of casually strung electricity cables above, even donkey carts find it tricky to negotiate the town's narrow twists and turns.

But that has not stopped Abdel Salaam Bashandi's campaign bus, a bright-red pickup truck adorned with posters and a creaking sound system, from plunging into the warren.

"Islam is the solution – wake up and vote on 28 November!" blares the loudspeaker, as hundreds of well-wishers crowd at their doorways to shake hands with Bashandi, a bespectacled book publisher in his early 50s.

"We have great, great hopes of this poll," grins the Muslim Brotherhood candidate amid the commotion. "Of course this isn't about winning the seat. The regime won't allow such a thing."

Welcome to the bizarre world of Egypt's parliamentary elections, where thousands of candidates from dozens of parties are competing for parliamentary seats – all safe in the knowledge that their campaigning will have virtually no impact on the result.

"No one thinks parliamentary elections in Egypt are democratic or even semi-democratic," says Mona El-Ghobashy, a political scientist. "The elections do not determine who governs. They are not free and fair. Citizens know that elections are rigged, with polling places often blocked off by baton-wielding police, so few of them vote."

Yet despite the fraud accompanying what is theoretically one of the largest democratic exercises in the Middle East, these elections matter deeply to a plethora of political forces – from the ruling National Democratic party (NDP), which is guaranteed to emerge from the ballot with a landslide majority in parliament, to a wide range of opposition movements exploiting the poll to mobilise local support bases and raise their party's profile.

For political observers within Egypt and beyond, Sunday's vote promises something else too, a rare insight into the drama over who will succeed the country's ill and ageing president, Hosni Mubarak, himself up for re-election next year.

Kirdasa, a palm-fringed suburb of Cairo, offers a unique window on to the surreal dynamics of this poll. Once a village far from the chaos of the capital, Cairo's unstoppable urban sprawl has now enveloped the place completely; in recent years migration from the countryside has sent population levels soaring, making this electoral district one of the biggest and most hotly contested in the country.

Every large-scale party is running a candidate here, but few of Kirdasa's residents seem enthusiastic.

Although the area laps up to the edge of the 4,500-year-old Giza pyramids, it is this constituency's more modern neighbourhoods, and the contrast between them, that best explains why so many voters feel excluded from political life.

Kirdasa's vast electoral district encompasses gated compounds for the rich alongside redbrick settlements for the poor, the type of neighbourhood where six in 10 Cairenes now reside and a stark illustration of the social chasm that has come to epitomise Mubarak's Egypt.

"Our circumstances don't allow for politics; we're living on the breadline," says Alaa Khalil, a 37-year-old welder and Kirdasa native. "The sons of Egypt are in crisis right now. Food prices are spiralling, our incomes are going down, and we have almost no means with which to feed our kids. Elections may have some value for the 'big sharks', but not for us."

Khalil's cynicism is understandable. Kirdasa has long been marginalised from Egypt's civil and political centre. With the area viewed by the government as a potential opposition stronghold, no resident has ever been allowed to become a security officer or hold a senior position within the state bureaucracy.

At the last parliamentary elections in 2005 Bashandi, who, in common with other Muslim Brotherhood candidates, is forced to run as an independent to circumvent a legal ban on religious parties, claimed to have won a majority of 12,000 votes, a figure backed up by a number of independent sources.

But the authorities refused to accept the ballot count and instead declared Bashandi's rival NDP candidate the winner. Later that day riot police stormed the town, tear-gassing hundreds of protesting youths.

This time few of Bashandi's supporters believe he will represent them in parliament, regardless of the final vote tally. Five of them have already been detained by the security services, adding to the 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood activists arrested nationally in the run-up to these elections.

In a damning report detailing government repression, Amnesty International concluded that "the pattern being established is one that is already familiar from previous elections, which were carried out amid … serious human rights violations".

It is this sort of political repression that led a host of prominent dissidents, including former UN nuclear weapons chief Mohamed ElBaradei, to call for a boycott of these elections, a call the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as a number of legally sanctioned secular opposition parties offering no real challenge to the political status quo, has chosen to ignore.

"What is happening right now is the actual rigging of the vote," Saad el-Katatni, a prominent Brotherhood politician, said in a press conference this morning.

Bashandi said: "In normal circumstances we are not allowed to give lectures or hold conferences, we're deprived of all opportunities to promote our beliefs and connect with the community. During election time, those opportunities sometimes arise, so to remove ourselves from that process altogether would be illogical."

Judging by the adulation on the streets, Bashandi's anti-corruption and pro-local services message is finding an audience, despite the frustration at the inequities of the voting process.

But Sunday's vote is not only a litmus test for Egypt's opposition movements as they seek to refine their divergent tactics ahead of next year's presidential ballot. It is also a critical moment for the NDP, which, in light of Mubarak's waning health, is beginning a search for his successor – the future leader of the biggest nation in the Arab world.

Mubarak's son Gamal, long considered to be heir-apparent to his father, recently has been forced to publicly distance himself from suggestions that he might inherit power, while competing factions in the NDP clash over Egypt's post-Mubarak state.

Those internecine struggles have put the ruling party into the strange position of running several official candidates for the same seat in some districts, including Kirdasa, where two formal NDP candidates and one other NDP member are both lining up against Bashandi.

Some disaffected elements of the local NDP are even throwing their weight behind Bashandi, according to local sources.

"It's impossible to separate the coming parliamentary elections from the 2011 presidential race," says Bahey el-din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. "The NDP's latest decision to have multiple candidates compete over single seats means the internal party battle has moved from 'behind the scenes' to the front lines of elections."

And so Egypt will elect its parliament this week with a collective shrug from the majority of its population, while below the surface a series of developments help reshape the political trajectory of one of the west's closest allies in the Middle East.

For at least one voter in Kirdasa, though, polling day cannot come too soon. "We have lived our entire lives under Mubarak and the NDP but Egypt is on the brink of something big over the next year," says Sara Moustafa, a 19-year-old student, who is voting for the first time. "Times are changing; those at the top may think we are too young to have an opinion, but here we are. They'll see."

Media crackdown

Egypt's vibrant independent media sector has been dealt a series of blows in the run-up to this year's parliamentary elections, with TV stations shut down, critical chatshows hauled off air, outspoken columnists and newspaper editors forced out of their jobs, and new regulations bringing mass SMS messaging and live broadcasts firmly under state control.

 

Despite government assurances that freedom of expression will not be restricted as the country enters a year of intense political uncertainty, rights groups have criticised a "climate of terror" created by the state, in which dissident voices are excluded from public debate. "At a time when the free flow of political information takes on heightened significance, the government is intent on controlling all sources of alternative knowledge," warned the prominent Egyptian blogger Baheyya last month.

07:00 PM Nov 23 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

Egypt: Disclose Fate of ‘Disappeared' Student More Coverage: More Human Rights Watch reporting on Egypt

The brutal practice of ‘disappearing' people is a terrible blight on Egypt's human rights record. Authorities should immediately reveal Mohamed Tork's whereabouts and prosecute those responsible for his disappearance.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch Reveal Whereabouts of Youth and Prosecute Those Responsible(Cairo) – Egyptian authorities should immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Mohamed Saad Tork, who disappeared in July 2009 with strong indications that he was being held by the authorities, and prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said today. Tork's case highlights the continuing practice of enforced disappearances by Egypt's State Security Investigations agency.

"The brutal practice of ‘disappearing' people is a terrible blight on Egypt's human rights record," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Authorities should immediately reveal Mohamed Tork's whereabouts and prosecute those responsible for his disappearance."

On July 26, 2009, Tork, a 23-year-old second-year dentistry student at Alexandria University, told his family he was going for a walk. When they had heard nothing more from him for 48 hours, his family filed a missing person report at the Rashid police station, in the Beheira governorate. Five days later, Mohamed's father, Saad Tork, received a summons from the head of the police station's criminal investigations division.

"I went to the police station and the officer in charge asked me if Mohamed was ok or had health problems," Saad Tork told Human Rights Watch. "I explained that he'd had depression and was taking medication. The officer went on to ask me exactly what medication he was taking, what the dose was and who his doctor was. He then relayed all this information over the phone to another person.

"A week after that I went to the Damanhour State Security offices, and the guards told me that Mohamed had been moved to Rashid. When I went to the Rashid office, they told me they didn't know anything about him and that I was not to come back."

The family sent complaints to the Interior Ministry, public prosecutor and other government offices. After a year without any response, in July 2010, the family decided to take the case to human rights organizations and to publicize it to the media.

The Association for Human Rights Legal Aid and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information filed a disappearance complaint before the Office of the Public Prosecutor on August 8, 2010.  Gamal Eid, the lawyer who filed the complaint, told Human Rights Watch that the prosecution said it was still investigating the complaint and had made inquiries to the State Security Investigations agency (SSI), the internal security branch of the Interior Ministry.

Tork's family said they are not aware of any reason why SSI would want to detain him. The agency had summoned him to its Rashid office in April 2009, and questioned him about his university activities, in particular his participation in a demonstration at the university at the time of the Gaza war a few months earlier. They released him after an hour, the family said.

The long silence about Tork's whereabouts raises serious concerns about his well-being, Human Rights Watch said. State Security detention is frequently incommunicado, but usually lasts for about two months.

"The extreme anguish inflicted on relatives of the disappeared who have to deal with the pain of not knowing the fate of their loved one makes the family direct victims of the violation as well," Stork said. "Mohamed Tork's family have a right to know where he is and in what condition."

State Security incommunicado detention, which can amount to enforced disappearance, is common for political detainees. The agency routinely detains suspects in high-profile cases before bringing them to the state security prosecutor to face official charges.

In 2009, the agency held incommunicado for up to two months 25 men accused of membership in a terrorist organization in connection with a robbery in Cairo's Zeitoun district and alleged plans to attack Suez Canal shipping. In February 2009, the SSI detained a blogger, Diaa Eddin Gad, for 50 days before releasing him without charge. Gad was among a number of bloggers and activists arrested in relation to protests over the Gaza war, in December 2008 and January 2009. More recently, on March 25, the SSI detained Tarek Khedr, a member of the April 6 youth activist group, for 80 days.

Incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance are illegal under Egyptian law, which stipulates that police must bring detainees before a prosecutor within 24 hours. The only legal places of detention under Egyptian law are police stations and prisons, both of which are subject to visits by the prosecution. Detention in State Security offices and without a prosecutor's detention order is illegal under both Egyptian and international law.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Egypt has an obligation to provide an accessible, effective, and enforceable remedy – including justice, truth, and adequate reparations – after a disappearance violation has occurred. Under international law, victims and their families have a right to know the truth about violations they suffered. On March 12, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that under international law, "The right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth about events that transpired … In cases of enforced disappearance and missing persons, the right also implies the right to know the fate and whereabouts of the victim."

In December 2006, the UN opened for signature the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The convention defines the grave and serious violation of human rights of an enforced disappearance as "the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law."

So far, 83 states have signed the convention and in August, Paraguay became the 19th state to ratify it. One more ratification is needed for the convention to come into force. Egypt has not signed the convention.

"This week millions of families around the world marked International Day of the Disappeared," Stork said. "The Egyptian government should sign and ratify the convention to signal that it will end this practice."

07:13 PM Nov 23 2010 |

Dorothee

Dorothee

Germany

 

braveheart
2010

I thank you for posting this! It's really interesting information you give us here.

05:06 PM Nov 24 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

Egyptians protest police violence before election

The Associated Press
Friday, November 26, 2010; 4:12 PM

CAIRO—Egyptian activists held several rallies across the country Friday to protest police violence, especially against candidates running in this weekend's parliamentary election.

The campaign for Sunday's election has been marred by one of the most sweeping efforts in Egypt to silence critics, including new regulations on media coverage and a heavy-handed security clampdown on political opponents.

The ruling party is expected to secure a majority despite mounting opposition. Police and armed gangs have broken up campaign events by the government's top rival – the Muslim Brotherhood.

To evade the police, organizers of Friday's rallies – dubbed "Day of Anger" – got the word out on Facebook and Twitter and locations were announced at the last minute via text messages.

In one protest in Cairo, about 200 protesters descended on the alleys of a low-income neighborhood, banging pots and pans and blowing horns.

They carried posters reading "Stop killing us" and held pictures of victims of police brutality.

"There are no guarantees to ensure the elections won't be rigged," said organizer Mostafa al-Nagar. He said the police have a free rein to crack down.

Similar protests were held in 10 other governorates. Protesters dispersed before police arrived. But in Cairo, at least two protesters were nabbed as they left the rallies, al-Nagar said.

Opposition activists have used police brutality as a rallying point, particularly after the death in June of a young businessman from Alexandria, Khaled Said. Witnesses say plainclothes police dragged him from a cafe and beat him to death on the sidewalk.

Two policemen are on trial in the killing, but the government maintains that Said died of suffocation after swallowing a packet of drugs. Photos were circulated on social networking sites showing Said's body covered with bruises, his teeth broken and jaw smashed.

A Facebook page about Said that also serves as a sounding board for anti-government activists was shut down for a few hours on Thursday.

Popular pages on the social networking site for leading democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei and the Muslim Brotherhood were also blocked.

Activists blamed the government and its supporters.

06:46 PM Nov 27 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

Egypt’s Unobserved Elections Michele Dunne, Amr Hamzawy Carnegie Commentary, November 23, 2010 Tuesday, November 23, 2010 <!-end pageTools-><!- end zoneTitle ->

As Egypt heads toward elections for the lower house of parliament on November 28 and the presidency in 2011, Cairo’s officials have got their story straight and they are sticking to it: this proud nation needs no international observation of its elections, which will proceed according to well-established laws and constitutional precepts.  There is just one problem with this story, which is the history of past elections in the country: rigged and often violent.  In fact, Egyptians’ sense of trust in formal politics (never great) has deteriorated to the extent that several opposition parties will boycott and those that will participate are suffering from internal rifts because many of their members do not want to legitimize the existing system.

Assuming there will be no international observers to provide a window into the elections, how can Egyptians and outsiders tell how fair they were in the end?  One of the most important signals will be whether the Higher Electoral Commission extends credentials to the 14,000 or so Egyptian civil society activists seeking to monitor the elections. They have undergone rigorous training since a much more modest monitoring effort in 2005 and now are pressing for full access to the voting and counting processes.  In the  June 2010 elections for the small upper house of parliament, the electoral commission gave credentials to only a small percentage of civil society monitors at the eleventh hour (a major impediment in a country as large as Egypt) and then failed to instruct poll workers to let monitors in.  Whether that was incompetence or deliberate obstruction, the media spotlight on the November 28 elections is too bright for the electoral commission to get away with that again.
Violence has also been a major factor in previous Egyptian elections and could be this time as well.  The Ministry of Interior has in the past surrounded certain polling places—where a prominent pro-government candidate faced a strong opposition competitor— with security cordons, leading to violence as voters attempted to get in.  Thugs working for the security services or hired by specific candidates have intimidated and physically (including sexually) assaulted voters, monitors, and journalists while police looked the other way.  Will the orders be any different this year?
New measures specifically targeting Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, also raise doubts about how fair and competitive the elections will be.   The Brotherhood, a banned organization, may run candidates only as independents but in 2005 they campaigned openly, using the slogan “Islam is the solution,” and contested almost one-third of the parliamentary seats. Now the Egyptian government has outlawed the slogan, police authorities are systematically rounding up supporters of the movement, and the electoral commission has denied registration to one-quarter of the Brotherhood’s proposed candidates.
The government meanwhile has registered all of the hopefuls of co-opted or weak secular opposition parties, while newer and more independent secular parties (such as the liberal Ghad and Democratic Front parties) are boycotting. This faces the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) with a dilemma: it needs to win at least two-thirds of the parliament, but it also wants to create the image of real competition.  With the Brotherhood on the run and more credible secular parties boycotting, a strong electoral showing by captive or weakened parties such as the Tagammu and the Wafd would be a sure sign of electoral meddling.
Media coverage is emerging as another major issue in light of recent measures by the government, like requiring satellite television channels to get official clearance before reporting live from anywhere in Egypt. The government also has stipulated that cell phone providers get a similar clearance before sending aggregate text messages to their users, a technique that has been increasingly used by the opposition to mobilize supporters and reach out to the public. And in spite of the diversity of the media landscape in Egypt, with its mix of public and private ownership, initial reports by Egyptian NGOs following media coverage and reporting in the lead-up to the elections have indicated a clear bias towards the ruling party and its candidates.Perhaps the most interesting thing to look for on November 28 will be the U.S. reaction to Egypt’s elections. Washington tried unsuccessfully to persuade President Mubarak to accept international election monitors and to lift the state of emergency under which Egypt has been ruled for three decades.  The administration should keep in mind that showing U.S. support for political reform and human rights in Egypt has value even if Mubarak—aged 82 and ailing—continues to stonewall.  The Egyptian public follows every utterance from Washington, trying to determine where Obama stands.  And Mubarak’s successor, perhaps yet to be determined, is on the scene and undoubtedly also listening to every word, trying to gauge whether external actors support Egyptian citizens’ demands for democratic change and to what extent he will need to accommodate them.

09:13 PM Nov 27 2010 |

Dorothee

Dorothee

Germany

Please feel free to post more of this information in here.

06:29 AM Nov 28 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

Egypt's real state of emergency

By Mohamed ElBaradei
Monday, December 27, 2010; A15

Egypt has recently held yet another fraudulent and farcical election. Ballot boxes were stuffed. Votes were bought. People who considered voting for the opposition were subjected to violence by professional thugs. And these transgressions have been well documented by human rights groups.

Democracy must mean more than merely going through the motions.

In theory, Egypt has a constitution and laws that reflect the will of its people. But in reality, the provisions are a hodgepodge that perpetuates the iron grip of the ruling regime. President Hosni Mubarak enjoys imperial powers. There is no legislative oversight of the military budget. No more than five people are permitted to assemble without permission to stage a peaceful demonstration. Universities have security forces on campus to ensure that students do not engage in political activities.

A recent constitutional amendment has made it almost impossible for an independent actor to run for president. Any candidate who is not a member of an officially sanctioned party is forbidden to have a headquarters or to raise funds. Political activists are often blocked from renting venues for meetings. In the 12 months since I began campaigning for reform in Egypt, I have received a flood of requests for interviews, but after the recent crackdown on the media hardly any local TV stations have dared to express interest in talking to me.

In theory, Egypt has multiple political parties. In practice, establishing such a party requires permission from a committee dominated by the National Democratic Party (NDP) – the political machine that has kept Mubarak in power since 1981. And any new party must exist for five years before it can field a presidential candidate.

In theory, Egypt has an elected president. But over the past half-century, the country has had only three rulers. There were differences in their style and vision, but all have presided over an authoritarian and repressive political system. For the past 29 years, Egyptian society has existed under a draconian "state of emergency," a tool that has allowed the president to suspend basic constitutional protections and that has been used to detain, torture and sometimes kill those who dare to dissent.

In theory, Egypt has a democratically elected parliament. In practice, one-third of the members of its upper house are appointed by the president. Of the 508 seats, 440 are held by members of the NDP. In no way is the Egyptian parliament representative of the Egyptian people. Although about 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians, the Copts hold only 3 seats in parliament. The Muslim Brotherhood, a religious movement that managed to win 20 percent of the seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections, was shut out of the November elections and now holds no seats. The Wafd, the largest liberal party, won six seats. Both boycotted the run-off vote because of the substantial fraud committed and documented during the first-round voting last month.

In theory, Egypt has a court system; in fact, legal decisions are often ignored when they run contrary to government policy.

Egypt's economic and social fabric continues to deterioriate. Despite annual growth in gross domestic product of 5 to 6 percent the past few years, there has been little to no trickle-down effect. The obscene gap between rich and poor worsens daily. The middle class has all but disappeared. More than 40 percent of Egyptians live on less than $2 per day. Nearly 30 percent are illiterate – a sad commentary for the culture that, more than 2,000 years ago, gave the world the Library of Alexandria. In Cairo, a mega-city of more than 15 million, half the population lives in shantytowns next to gated communities that rival the opulence in Southern California.

Egypt urgently needs a new beginning. The voices of dissent are growing in number. We come from many orientations, from different vocations, from different parts of society, from different faiths. But we speak with a single voice in seeking social justice. We demand an accountable and transparent system of government, with meaningful checks and balances. We want economic opportunity for all Egyptians and the right to live in dignity and freedom. Together we are organizing around peaceful change. The international community ought to support our struggle for freedom and hold Egypt to its international commitments with respect to human rights. The rights of the Egyptian people should not be trampled in exchange for an elusive promise of stability.

The present pseudo-stability based on repression is a ticking bomb that is dangerously close to exploding. Lasting stability in Egypt, as in any nation, will come only through genuine democracy that responds fairly to the needs and aspirations of all its people.

The writer, a former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was the 2005 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

09:22 PM Dec 27 2010 |

Dorothee

Dorothee

Germany

At school we watched a movie about the people who risked their lives for the sake of their resistance against dictators like Stalin or Hitler.

Our teacher compared those people to anz: You know, gardeners usually put a ring of some sticky lotion around the trees of their gardens to protect them from these insects. However each ant hill has some members that voluntarily walk into this ring! They know they'll die! However, when they're dead their companions can crawl over these dead bodies to finally reach the peak of these trees.

 

10:21 PM Dec 27 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

the rights of arab minority in state of isreal:

Haaretz

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that dozens of Arab students and their parents gathered at the Jaffa Tuesday to protest against an administrative decision prevents speak Arabic among students, at a time when talking of foreign students in languages other than Hebrew.

He called the students and their parents the headmaster, David Ben-Zohar, to retreat from this resolution, and allow all students to talk among themselves in the language they like.

The newspaper quoted one Israeli students as saying: "It's very difficult, if not understand a certain idea in the classroom, ask your colleague to suck you in Arabic, and if our reputation parameter, Vstnehrna immediately."

And ask students about the methods of segregation followed by the number of school teachers, if they spoke Arabic, they are prevented from doing so, but if the Russian-speaking immigrant students, for example, there is nothing wrong in that, according to Ha'aretz.

Guardian

According to a report issued by the humanitarian and other Israeli, Palestinian Israeli army prohibits Palestinians detainees to meet lawyers to defend them during interrogations.

The report issued by the General Organization Against Torture in Israel and the Club of Palestinian prisoners that these detainees, mostly from the West Bank, cut off from the rest of the world, India being held in Israeli prisons, report also provided some of the living examples of "organized violence" used by the Israeli army.

The report said that between 70 and 90 per cent of Palestinian detainees in the period between 2005 and 2007 were prevented from meeting a lawyer or legal consultant before signing a written confession.

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08:18 AM Dec 30 2010 |

braveheart2010

Egypt

Blasts kill Iraqi Christians <!>Six explosions target Christians across Iraqi capital, killing two and wounding 15, days after al-Qaeda renewed threat.<!- ->Last Modified: 30 Dec 2010 19:27 GMT

Two people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a series of bomb attacks against the homes of minority Christians in different parts of Baghdad, police and interior ministry officials said on Thursday.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad that the six explosions took place outside as well as in the yards of Christian homes across Baghdad.

The attacks come just a few days after al-Qaeda renewed its threat against Iraq's small Christian community during this holiday period.

The worst attack was in the central Baghdad district of Al-Ghadir, where a homemade bomb exploded, killing two people and wounding three others, an interior ministry official told the AFP news agency.

"Christmas Eve and day had gone by without incident, but unfortunately that tense calm is now shattered," Rageh said.

Thousands of Christians are reported to have already fled the capital to the relatively safer north after a series of attacks targeting the community since October.

The most serious of those attacks was a deadly siege on a Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad, in which more the 50 worshippers were killed.

07:56 PM Dec 30 2010 |