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Egypt’s Morsi faces slow death from torture

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi attends a trial session in Cairo, Egypt on February 26, 2017 [Moustafa El Shemy/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi attends a trial session in Cairo, Egypt on 26 February 2017

Former Egyptian president, Dr Mohamed Morsi, could die a slow death from torture if he continues to be denied medical attention.

Dr Maha Azzam, President of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, told MEMO today that the denial of medication to Dr Morsi constitutes a form of torture and urged the international community to intervene urgently to ensure his safety and well-being. Dr Azzam explained that torture is systematic in the Egyptian prison system, responsibility for which must be taken by the current Egyptian regime.

Military coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi in Egypt- Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Dr Morsi, who is diabetic and suffers from hypertension and liver disease, is being held in dire conditions at Tora prison in Cairo. He has been sentenced on a range of charges, which include harming national security by leaking state secrets to foreign countries and the killing of protesters during public demonstrations in 2012. He has appeared in three trials since his initial arrest, and a death sentence, which was handed to him in a fourth case, was overturned in November 2016.

A recent report by a panel of British MPs and lawyers announced that “if Dr Morsi isn’t provided with medical attention, the damage to his health may be permanent or terminal.” The panel, which was led by Crispin Blunt, former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told The Times “responsibility for [damage to his health] goes all the way up the chain of command.”

Ahmed El Attar, Human Rights Researcher at the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms, told MEMO that despite repeatedly requesting the necessary medical care in a series of court appearances, Dr Morsi has been denied this basic right. El Attar sees this denial of medical care as a form of punishment being used by the regime against its political prisoners and emphasises that Dr Morsi is not the only prisoner to be treated as such. In his latest appearance in court in December 2017, Dr Morsi’s solicitor told the judge he “feared for his life” if he continued to suffer such mistreatment.

READ: Remembering the Egyptian Revolution

Mohamed Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, coming to power in 2012 with 51 per cent of the vote over his rival Ahmed Shafiq. Dr Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group now banned under al-Sisi’s regime after a surge in popular support following the uprisings of 2011.

Dr Morsi’s arrest came immediately after he was overthrown by a military coup in July 2013. The coup was led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian army chief, who has since served as President of Egypt. Al-Sisi looks likely to be re-elected as Egypt goes to the polls today, following a crackdown on opposition figures who announced their intention to stand against him.

Dr Azzam emphasised that, as the first democratically-elected president of Egypt, democratic governments across the world have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of Dr Morsi. This is particularly important in light of the fact that today’s elections do not meet international standards for free and fair elections.

READ: Sisi: Egypt not ‘ready for democracy’

Dr Morsi is one of just 60,000 political prisoners being held in Egyptian prisons, with a further 15,000 civilians thought to have been subject to military trial since 2014. Human Rights Watch has pointed to figures from the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), that show 30 people died from torture while being held in police stations and other Interior Ministry detention sites between 2013 and 2015. In 2016, the ECRF lawyers received 830 torture complaints, and a further 14 people had died from torture in custody.

(Source / 28.03.2018)

Syrian Coalition Official: Mass Forced Displacement is War Crime & Russia is Directly Complicit

An official in the Syrian Coalition said that the mass forced displacement taking place in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta is a “war crime” as he condemned Russian’s major role in these crimes.

Secretary of the political committee Mohammed Yahya Maktabi said that regime forces, the Iranian militias, and Russian air force are killing civilians, targeting popular markets, residential areas and public facilities and bombing hospitals, medical centers, and rescue workers.

Maktabi pointed out the Assad regime’s onslaught on eastern Ghouta was clearly aimed at the mass forced displacement of its local residents to change the demographic landscape in the Damascus suburbs. “This is a full-fledged war crime. The international community must no longer condone it or let the perpetrators escape punishment.”

Maktabi stressed that Moscow bears primary responsibility for these crimes as it strengthened the culture of rebellion against international legitimacy and UN resolutions. Russia also refused to implement the recently adopted international resolution 2401 demanding a ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.

Maktabi warned that the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria will continue should the United Nations continue with its failure to assume its duty to protect civilians, hold war criminals accountable, chiefly among them Bashar al-Assad, and implement international resolutions. He underscored that the United Nations should take urgent action meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 26.03.2018)

Syrian Coalition Calls on Int’l Community to Hold Russia & Assad Regime Accountable for their Crimes

The Syrian Coalition called upon the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and all other international organizations and bodies take the necessary measures to protect civilians, put an end to Russia, Iran, and Assad regime’s crimes and holding them accountable.

In a press release issued on Thursday, the Coalition condemned the brutal massacre warplanes of the Russian occupation committed in rural Idlib on Wednesday. The massacre claimed the lives of at least 22 civilians, including 16 children and three women who were killed when Russian jets deliberately bombed an underground shelter in the village of Kafar Batikh where civilians sought protection from bombardment. The victims suffocated to death after a large part of the shelter collapsed on their heads, while only a woman survived.

Airstrikes also targeted an IDPs camp near the town of Haas on Wednesday, killing and injuring dozens of civilians, including women, children and elderly people who fled their homes to escape the bombings.

“These are the ‘achievements’ Russian President Vladimir Putin is making in Syria using blood of children, women and elderly people,” the Coalition said. “The international community, which has long stood idly by, has a responsibility to find a way to stop these barbaric massacres especially as the UN Security Council has a responsibility to maintain international peace and security.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 22.03.2018)

Syrians Around the World Commemorate 7th Anniversary of Syrian Revolution

Syrians at home and abroad commemorated the seventh anniversary of the Syrian revolution which began in March 2011, vowing they would carry on with the struggle against the Assad regime until they fully regain their rights to freedom and dignity.

Syrian activists held sit-ins in the liberated areas as well as in neighboring countries and some European capitals. The celebrations will continue until Sunday, March 18.

The Syrian Coalition said that “the Syrian revolution enters its eighth year with greater determination to carry on with the revolution until victory and the establishment of a civil democratic, pluralistic state as well as to combat terrorism and rid the homeland of the foreign forces and militias.”

The Coalition called upon forces of the revolution “to undertake comprehensive review of their course and identify the shortcomings to overcome them in a practical plan responding to the challenges. Such a plan is needed to rally together forces of the revolution in a broad front to beat off the challenges of the current phase and meet the requirements of the next phase.”

The Coalition stressed that the Syrian people do not accept humiliation and enslavement. “Just like all other human beings, we detest war, murder, oppression, slavery and tyranny. Every new day and year brings with them new hope and increase our determination to rise up, fight on, show creativity and carry on with the struggle without despair.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 16.03.2018)

Appalling Death Toll in Eastern Ghouta as Syrian Coalition Renews Calls for Use of Force Against Assad

The Syrian Interim Government’s health directorate in Rural Damascus has published appalling figures of the death toll in the suburb of eastern Ghouta as a Syrian Coalition official stressed that the international community’s lukewarm response towards the Assad regime led to the occurrence of war crimes on a large scale in Syria.

Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that the humanitarian tragedy affecting the people of eastern Ghouta has become the last appeal to the United Nations to carry out its moral and legal duties to protect civilians.

In press release issue on Tuesday, the Directorate of Health said that 1,201 civilians have been killed and 8,804 others injured in eastern Ghouta over the last three weeks of the ferocious military campaign being launched by the Assad regime forces with Russian support. It indicated that the victims included at least 209 children and 213 women.

The Directorate said that two doctors, four nurses, and two paramedics were killed in attacks on hospitals and medical centers in the besieged Damascus suburb.

The figures showed that the humanitarian suffering in eastern Ghouta had reached an unprecedented level since the siege and bombardment began in 2013.

Farhan stressed that war crimes being committed against Syrian civilians make it incumbent on the Syrian people’s friendly countries to take action outside the UN Security Council and launch a military strike against the Assad regime to force it to abide by UN Security Council resolution 2401 demanding a ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Member of the political committee and the Syrian Negotiations Commission Hadi al-Bahra stressed the need for the UN Security Council’s member states to take measures to force the Assad regime to abide by Resolution 2401. He said that such measures are likely to push ahead the political process and negotiations.

“It is feasible. It is necessary. And it is overdue,” Bahra told a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday. He slammed Russia’s continued disabling of the UN Security Council through its repeated use of its veto power to shield the Assad regime.

(Source: Syrian’s Coalition Media Department / 14.03.2018)

Bahra Urges UNSC Measures Ensuring Implementation of Resolution 2401

Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Hadi al-Bahra stressed the need for the UN Security Council’s member states to take measures to ensure the implementation of Resolution 2401. The Council is set to convene later on Monday to assess the ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.

“Allowing the Assad regime to continue to commit crimes against the Syrian people without any consequences will not restore stability in the region or put an end to the terrible cycle of terrorism,” Bahra said. He stressed that the actions of the Assad regime are “the root cause of extremism and the trigger for the endless cycle of terrorism.”

Bahra underscored that the international community is to blame for the current situation in Syria “as it has left the Syrian people alone for seven consecutive years in its struggle against the crimes of the tyrannical regime.”

Bahra pointed out that Iran’s continued pursuit of destructive policies in Syria and the region leading to further spread of terrorism as well as the fueling of sectarian strife and conflicts throughout the region will make it impossible to achieve peace or restore security and stability to the region.

The Iranian regime is the main supporter and partner with the Assad regime, Bahra said, stressing the need to hold it accountable for the crimes the Iranian militias and forces are committing in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 12.03.2018)

Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly Calls on United Nations to Fully Enforce UNSC Resolution 2401

The 38th ordinary session of the Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly began Saturday morning. Members of the Assembly will discuss the ongoing genocide in eastern Ghouta and ways to ensure full implementation of Security Council resolution 2401.

Tabled for discussions is also the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons amid continued failure of the international community’s to enforce UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Moreover, the meeting will discuss the latest political developments and the negotiations process and will review the constitutional process in accordance with UN resolution 2254.

Members of the General Assembly reiterated that Russia is a partner of the Assad regime in its crimes. They added that Russia does not meet its international pledges which contravenes with its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Salwa Aqsoy on Friday said that Russia’s continued military attacks against Syrian civilians in support of the Assad regime will not dissuade the Syrian people from continuing to demand their rights to freedom, dignity and the overthrow of the regime.

“The Syrian people will not make a single step back,” Aksoy said. “Attempts to re-produce the Assad regime will be doomed to failure.” She stressed that insistence on the regaining of freedom and dignity as well as the establishment of a democratic state is the only way out of the conflict in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 10.03.2018)

Civilian Suffering ‘Worse than Ever’ in Syria War

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (L) speaks to a refugee during a visit to an unofficial refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley on March 8, 2018

The living conditions of civilians inside Syria are worse than ever, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Friday, with the conflict set to enter its eighth year.

“The conditions faced by civilians inside Syria are worse than ever, with 69 percent languishing in extreme poverty,” Grandi said during a visit to Lebanon.

The war in Syria started in March 2011 when protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad sparked a brutal crackdown that led to one of the deadliest conflicts of our time.

“This seven-year war has left a colossal human tragedy in its wake. For the sake of the living, it is high time to end this devastating conflict,” Grandi was quoted as saying in a statement.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, more than 340,000 people have been killed since then in a conflict the UN says caused the worst displacement since World War II.

“The share of families spending more than half of their annual income on food has risen to 90 percent, while food prices are on average eight times higher than pre-crisis levels,” he said.

The regime, with decisive military backing from Russia, is steadily reconquering areas it lost in the earlier stages of the conflict.

Grandi said: “There are no clear winners in this senseless pursuit of a military solution. But the losers are plain to see – they are the people of Syria.”

(Source / 10.03.2018)

Repeated Use of Chlorine Gas Against Civilians in Eastern Ghouta: Who Stops Assad?

Assad regime forces have once again used chlorine poison against civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta despite the strong international warnings to stop the use of this banned type of weapon as well as calls for commitment to UN Security Council resolution 2401. The resolution called for at least 30-day ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.

The Syrian Civil Defense in Rural Damascus said that 124 civilians, mostly women and children, suffered from asphyxiation after Assad forces targeted the area located between the towns of Saqba and Hammouriya with a barrel bomb containing poisonous chlorine gas.

As many as 92 civilians were killed on Wednesday in aerial and artillery bombardment on eastern Ghouta. The Syrian Coalition said that the onslaught on the Damascus suburb constituted genocide which is being carried out with direct support from Russia.

The United Nations has stepped up its rhetoric against the practices of the Assad regime and its backers over the past few days. Chairman of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry, Paulo Pinheiro, confirmed that the Assad regime committed war crimes by using chemical weapons against civilians.

United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that “recent attempts to justify indiscriminate, brutal attacks on hundreds of thousands of civilians by the need to combat a few hundred fighters – as in Eastern Ghouta – are legally, and morally, unsustainable.”

“Also, when you are prepared to kill your own people so easily, lying is easy too. Claims by the Government of Syria that it is taking every measure to protect its civilian population are frankly ridiculous,” Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

The Syrian Coalition on Wednesday said that stopping the genocide in eastern Ghouta requires measures bypassing Russia’s attempts to disrupt the Security Council and prevent the achievement of international justice, including military measures.

These measures should include deterrent military action to put an end to the onslaught by the Assad regime and the Iranian terrorist militias against our people trapped in eastern Ghouta; punish war criminals and perpetrators of the crime of using chemical weapons and toxic gases; and protect millions of Syrians whose cities and homes are being destroyed,” the Coalition added.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 08.03.2018)

Syrian Coalition: Assad Regime Blocks Aid to Civilians to Force Them to Leave Their Homes

Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Rahman Mustafa said that the Assad regime’s disruption of the entry of a UN aid convoy to eastern Ghouta on Monday has shown that it is unwilling to allow much-needed relief aid to reach civilians with the aim of putting more pressure on them and ultimately forcing them to surrender.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday said that the convoy of more than 40 trucks pulled out of Douma in darkness after shelling on the town, without fully unloading supplies during a nine-hour stay.

Reuters quoted a World Health Organization (WHO) official as saying that regime forces had ordered 70 percent of medical supplies to be stripped out of the convoy, preventing trauma kits, surgical kits, insulin and other vital material from reaching the area.

Vice-president Mustafa said that these incidents have been repeated in many areas under siege by regime forces and have cruelly exposed the Assad regime’s real intentions. He underscored that the Assad regime will continue to refuse to implement the recently adopted UN Security Council resolution 2401, adding that the regime’s blocking of relief aid is aimed at circumventing the UN resolution and put increasing pressure on residents of eastern Ghouta and forcing them to submit to its conditions.

“The continued violations of UN resolutions have clearly exposed the international community’s inaction in Syria, which is being exploited by the Assad regime and its backers to the full,” Mustafa said. He expressed hope that the UN Security Council will take action and defend its resolutions and save hundreds of thousands of civilians.

“The Assad’s violations of international resolutions risk encouraging everyone to rebel against the entire international system. Ten days have passed since resolution 2401 was adopted but is has not been enforced yet, which encourages international chaos.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 06.03.2018)