04 September 2017 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa democracy


Algeria: Stop Persecuting a Religious Minority
By Human Rights Watch , 04 Sep 2017

 The arrest of Mohamed Fali, president of Algeria’s Ahmadiyya community on August 28, 2017, is the latest example of a crackdown on the religious minority, Human Rights Watch said today. Scores of Ahmadis have been prosecuted since June 2016, and some imprisoned for up to six months. Senior government officials have at times claimed that Ahmadis represent a threat to the majority Sunni Muslim faith, and accused them of collusion with foreign powers.



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Iran upholds 10-year jail terms for three Americans
By Al Jazeera, 04 Sep 2017

 An Iranian court has upheld 10-year jail terms for an American, two US-Iranian dual nationals and a Lebanese resident of the US who were convicted on charges of spying and collaboration against the state. Tehran's prosecutor's office confirmed on Sunday that the four men's appeals had been rejected. Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi identified the four as Princeton University student Xiyue Wang, Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his elderly father Baquer and Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with permanent US residency, the judiciary's official news website reported. Jared Genser, a US-based lawyer for the Namazis, said in a statement carried by US media last week that their family was informed that a Tehran court had upheld the convictions days earlier.

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Turkish officials tell Berlin to 'mind its own business' over arrested Germans
By Deutsche Welle, 04 Sep 2017

 Turkish officials on Sunday warned to Berlin to keep out of its domestic affairs, after it emerged that two more German national were arrested in Turkey  last week "for political reasons."Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, was quoted by the Anadolu news agency of telling Germany that the latest detentions were "not your concern" and dismissing the German government's furious reaction. "When we arrest (a coup plotter) Germany starts to get upset. But what are we supposed to do?" Cavusoglu was quoted of saying. "This is also a Turkish citizen but it (Germany) asks why are you arresting my citizen?" Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people following the failed coup in July 2016. At least 55 are known to be German citizens, 12 of which are being held as "political prisoners", according to Germany's Foreign Ministry.

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Palestinian journalists face crackdown as Abbas tightens grip on media
By The Guardian, 03 Sep 2017

The reasons given by Palestinian Authority security forces when they arrested the journalist Tariq Abu Zaid were deeply contradictory. Abu Zaid, a reporter with the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was originally told that he was being detained in retaliation for the Gaza arrest by Hamas of a journalist from a media organisation supportive of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. But once in jail, Abu Zaid told the Observer, the story changed and he was told that he was being pursued under the controversial new Electronic Crimes Law, introduced by Abbas earlier this summer, for posts he had made on Facebook in which he had sarcastically criticised the Palestinian Authority.

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In shift, Merkel backs end to EU-Turkey membership talks
By Reuters, 03 Sep 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she would seek an end to Turkey’s membership talks with the European Union in an apparent shift of her position during a televised debate weeks before a German election.“The fact is clear that Turkey should not become a member of the EU,” Merkel said in the debate with her Social Democrat (SPD) challenger Martin Schulz.“I’ll speak to my (EU) colleagues to see if we can reach a joint position on this so that we can end these accession talks,” Merkel added.The comments are likely to worsen already strained ties between the two NATO allies that have deepened since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on opponents in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July of last year.

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Syria: Tens of thousands of disappeared must not be forgotten
By Amnesty International , 30 Aug 2017

The Syrian government and armed groups involved in the country’s conflict must disclose the fate and whereabouts of tens of thousands of people who have been forcibly disappeared or abducted since the onset of the crisis in 2011, said Amnesty International on the International Day of the Disappeared. “Amid the brutality and bloodshed of the Syrian conflict, the plight of those who have vanished after being arrested by the authorities or detained by armed groups is a tragedy that has been largely ignored internationally. Tens of thousands of families have been desperately trying to uncover the fate of their missing relatives,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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