25 Feb 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy

NPWJ press release

NPWJ and ESDF organise side event on "Death Notifications and Negation of Justice in Syria"
Geneva, UNHRC, 40th Session, Palais des Nations, 25 Feb 2019

On the occasion of the 40th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, No Peace Without Justice and the Euro-Syrian Democratic Forum are convening a side Event on "Death Notifications and Negation of Justice in Syria", to be held on Monday 25 February 2019 (from 16:30 – 18:00, Room XXIII, Palais des Nations, United Nations Office in Geneva). The meeting is co-sponsored by the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Netherlands and Sweden.
By focusing on the status of detainees, victims of enforced and arbitrary detention and their families and the long-terms effects on Syrian society, this event will provide a platform to discuss how enforced disappearances, indiscriminate arrests and torture can directly infringe the human rights of relatives of the deceased, including their housing, land, and property rights. In addition, the event opens up the important discussions on the way forward for Syrian families as well as Syrian society as a whole.

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Iran’s democratic resistance movement can no longer be ignored
Euractiv, 25 Feb 2019

Even in the wake of a wide-ranging conference in Warsaw on the topic of Middle East policy, the United Kingdom and Europe remain at odds with the United States over the Iran nuclear deal and the broader question of how to deal with the government of the Islamic Republic. It is understandable that many UK lawmakers believe maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is preferable to proceeding with no agreement whatsoever. But what they fail to take into account is the strong possibility that this and any other deal may be rendered null and void anyway, by domestically-driven regime change.

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They came to Syria to fight Isis. Now they want to stay
The Independent, 25 Feb 2019

The rise of Isis attracted thousands of foreigners from around the world to Syria. But it wasn’t just religious extremists who were drawn here.
While scores were travelling to Syria for jihad, a smaller but no less committed group of internationalists was heading to the other side of the battle.
“People back home like to think Daesh [Isis] is just a problem for the Middle East and that’s it,” says Kyle Town, a mild-mannered 30-year-old from Thunder Bay, in Ontario, Canada, using the Arabic name for Isis. “But it doesn’t just exist here. It affects everyone.”

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EXCLUSIVE: EU in talks with Egypt and other states over police data-sharing
Middle East Eye, 24 Feb 2019

Proposed deals could allow sharing of data relating to political and religious beliefs, sex lives and trade union memberships but only when 'strictly necessary'. European Union officials have begun talks with counterparts in several Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt and Turkey, about proposed data-sharing deals that would allow Europol to exchange personal information about suspects with local law enforcement authorities.
In some circumstances, the deals could allow the transfer of data concerning a person’s race and ethnic origin, their political opinions and religious beliefs, trade-union memberships, genetic data and data concerning their health and sex life.

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Why the EU is embracing Middle East strongmen
Financial Times, 24 Feb 2019

For the EU, the timing could hardly have been worse. Egypt’s parliament this month backed a proposal to extend President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s increasingly authoritarian rule until as far as 2034, a power grab that has shaken the country. If approved, the move would extend the authority of the military and Mr Sisi, whom critics brand an autocrat responsible for curbing freedoms and jailing dissenters.

Yet on Sunday the former general is expected to welcome more than 20 European leaders to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the inaugural EU-Arab League summit designed to tighten bonds between the two sides.

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Egypt: Release human rights lawyer detained for wearing yellow vest
Amnesty International, 18 Feb 2019

Egyptian authorities must order the immediate and unconditional release of a human rights lawyer who has been detained since 10 December for “inciting social unrest” by posting a picture of himself on Facebook wearing a yellow vest, said Amnesty International ahead of a hearing to renew his pre-trial detention tomorrow.
Mohamed Ramadan shared the image after Egyptian authorities restricted sales of the vests - similar to those worn by demonstrators in France - in a bid to prevent copycat protests in Egypt.

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