Does 'progressive leadership' or something more complex and sinister explain why Algeria's 'Spring' never materialised? The 'Arab Spring' of 2011 brought down autocratic governments across North Africa and the Middle East. But, despite widespread street protests that initially threatened to spark a Tunisian or Egyptian style revolt, an expected uprising in Algeria failed to materialise. President Abdelazziz Bouteflika's regime - often accused of being one of the most repressive in the region - promised modest political reform and managed to hold onto power. Earlier this month it claimed to have delivered on these promises when parliamentary elections were held, in which the ruling National Liberation Front (or FLN) won an overwhelming majority of the votes. Although opposition groups were quick to deride the poll as a sham and to accuse the government of manipulating the results, European and American observers called the poll a step toward democracy. So what has been going on in Algeria for the last year? Did it genuinely, as the government would claim, avoid the upheaval that swept through the rest of North Africa last year because of the Bouteflika regime's 'progressive leadership'? Or has something darker and more complex been going on - a story that opponents and human rights activists say has more to do with a wary population traumatised by the country's violent past and living in fear of its secret police? People & Power wanted to find out, but getting into Algeria is difficult - not least because Al Jazeera has been denied official access to the country since 2004. Nevertheless, when our requests for journalist visas were ignored, our filmmakers managed to get in unofficially and were able to work discreetly. Producer Caroline Pare describes what they found.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Human rights campaigners have orgainsed a protest outside the Bahraini embassy in London to raise their voices against the invitation of ‘Bahraini tyrant’ to a Diamond Jubilee event. Human rights activists are outraged that the King of Bahrain will lunch with the Queen at Windsor Castle - after his regime was accused of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners. Protestors say the guest list at today's special Jubilee lunch features a range of foreign monarchs who have been widely condemned for their human rights records, or their extravagant lifestyles. Among the guests sitting down with the Queen is the King of Bahrain, where demonstrations calling for more democratic involvement in the country's government were violently suppressed, with the help of Saudi troops. At least fifty people have been killed in the tiny Persian Gulf island nation since February last year. Campaigners have described the invitation to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as "inappropriate, insensitive, and ill-advised." "The King of Bahrain has been incriminated in grave violations of human rights. While he basks in the magnaminity of today's pomp and ceremony, the people of Bahrain are being shot, tear-gassed and tortured by his security forces. The British royal family is staining their own reputation by keeping company of dictators", said the writer and pro-democracy activist, Dr Ala'a Shebabi. Other guests from controversial regimes are also at the lunch, including Swaziland's King Mswati, who has 13 wives, and is Africa's last absolute monarch. He is accused of leading a lavish lifestyle while his people are starving. The rulers of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are there too - human rights group Amnesty International has accused both countries of rights violations. The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called on protestors to gather outside Buckingham palace tonight as guests arrive for dinner with Prince Charles, demanding that invitations to those he described as "royal tyrants" should be withdrawn. "Inviting these blood-soaked dictators brings shame to the monarchy and tarnishes the Diamond Jubilee celebrations", he said. "The invitations are a shocking misjudgement. They show the Queen is out of touch with the humanitarian values of most British people. She's putting royalty before human rights."
The Express Tribune News Network.
by Faisal Farooq
DAWN.COMPrime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani challenged the opposition Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz on Friday, daring the Sharifs to bring a vote of no-confidence against him. “The only way to unseat me democratically is through a vote of no-confidence … the president can only be removed through impeachment. If you have the courage then go ahead and use the available option,” said the prime minister. The PM was speaking to reporters in Lahore at a joint press conference with Pakistan Muslim league – Quaid (PML-Q) chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who is a coalition partner of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Gilani was found guilty of contempt by the Supreme Court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president, but received only a symbolic sentence of a few minutes’ detention in the courtroom. The opposition PML-N has said they do not consider him the prime minister after his conviction by the SC, and threaten to hold a long march if he stays in office. Gilani, however, says that he will remain the prime minister as long as the parliament allows him to. “I will not resign on somebody’s wishes … I have complete support of the parliament,” said PM Gilani, Pakistan’s longest serving democratically elected prime minister. “How can they protest against the government when they are in the government themselves? They would have to resign from their seats to protest,” he said. “As for long marches, they are held against dictators. There is a democratic government in the country. There are no dictators and there will be no long marches.” When asked a question regarding an appeal against the SC’s decision, Gilani said his legal team would decide about the issue. “I have not committed a crime. I have only followed the constitution’s interpretation given to me,” he said.