The Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Middle East Studies program and the Gould School of Law International Human Rights Clinic hosted Amr Hamzawy to give a lecture on human rights in Egypt and rising above the fear of the current autocracy Monday afternoon in Leavey Library.Hamzawy has a long history in the realm of political science. He is currently researching Egyptian domestic policies in a historical context at Stanford University following a recent lift on his travel ban. He also teaches political science at the Cairo University and the American University of Cairo and was elected to the first parliament following the January 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Hamzawy has also served as a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.During his talk, Hamzawy reflected on the human rights situation in Egypt. In order to help the audience get a sense of the current state of the region, Hamzawy gave a recent history of key political developments in Egypt.“The timeline is basically the last two years, from July 2013,” Hamzawy said. “A military coup took place in which an elected president was removed and semi-democratic dynamics were announced terminated. What followed, from a human rights perspective, [was] a period of human rights violations and abuse unprecedented in modern Egyptian history.”Tumult in Egypt began with Arab Spring protests in January 2011 that started the transition of power.Mass protests deposed Hosni Mubarak, but not before he killed 846 people, according to BBC News. Mohammed Morsi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party was then elected in June 2012. Only one year after his election, the military took over and drafted a new constitution, creating an autocratic regime that exists to this day.Hamzawy described four issues that people should be aware of — the current military establishment, which is centered around the defense minister; the constitutional amendments in place; the lack of a framework for transitional justice, which means people can be imprisoned without going to a court of law; and the absence of accountability.“The third legal-slash-constitutional issue, which is of relevance here, is once again not in the sense of introducing an anti-freedom, anti-right, anti-liberty set of constitutional, legal changes, but in the sense of not introducing needed constitutional and legal amendments in a country where an attempt was made between 2011 and 2013 to democratize,” Hamzawy said. “We lack a framework of transitional justice.”Hamzawy then went into factual detail regarding the aggregate human rights abuses by Mubarak, Morsi and the military autocracy.Hamzawy said 30,000 to 40,000 Egyptians were detained without due legal process, 1,500 Egyptians were killed in the past couple of years and there are many reports that point to excessive torture and sexual abuse in prisons, yet many officials receive impunity.“We have a trend [of] extra-judicial killings happening repeatedly in Egypt throughout the last couple of months,” Hamzawy said. “On average you have around 10 Egyptians killed in Sinai, and their identities are not disclosed.”Hamzawy said there are many Egyptians groups who have conflicting beliefs as to what the future of Egypt should look like.“It is highly polarized, and there are two narratives clashing without mediation,” Hamzawy said.When the floor was opened to questions, there were some dissenting voices, including an especially harsh one from Suzan Wali, a lecturer for the Middle East studies program.“I am Egyptian, and all my friends and family are Egyptian, and listening to you, I think you are talking about a different country. Egyptians are very happy with the situation now,” Wali said. “I expected you to praise the Egyptian army acting at the will of the people, who took the streets by millions asking the army to ask Morsi to step down.”Hamzawy proposed a counterargument to this point.“If citizens are so happy why didn’t they go out and vote in the parliamentary election?” Hamzawy said. “Why was the voter turnout, even according to the government, 20 percent?”Egyptian students sought advice on how to make a difference in their country, and Hamzawy explained that the most powerful tool that they have is their connection to Egypt.“Do not distance yourself from what is going on even if you are living as far as in California,” Hamzawy said.
Urgently needed work to upgrade the runway and address safety at Liberia’s main airport will be backed by Europe’s loan of US$27.3 million through its long-term lending institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB), following an agreement signed in Washington D.C. on Monday, October 13.Amara M. Konneh, the Liberian Minister for Finance and Development Planning, said “The European Investment Bank had always been a true partner to the people of Liberia. The airport rehabilitation project is another clear manifestation of that partnership.”The twenty year loan, worth US$27.3 million (EUR 19.6 million) for Roberts International Airport was formally agreed on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF meetings in Washington at a ceremony attended by Amara M. Konneh, Finance Minister of the Republic of Liberia and Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Dr. J. Mills Jones.The occasion also allowed detailed discussion of issues of pressing concern in Liberia, the government’s economic recovery plan and EIB’s engagement in West Africa.“The European Investment Bank stands side by side with Liberia at this time of need. We will continue our engagement with Liberian officials, partner institutions and European Union Delegations in the region and will ensure that any support we can provide will be of best use. Upgrading Monrovia’s airport is essential for Liberia and we are pleased to share experience from similar projects elsewhere in Africa.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President.This is the first European Investment Bank operation with the Liberian Airports Authority and follows recent support for improving electricity generation in Liberia through backing for rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant.The runway work will also include improvements to runway drainage and runway lighting. When completed, it will allow Robert International Airport to comply with international civil aviation standards. The project is being co-financed with the Saudi Fund for Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa.The European Investment Bank has experience supporting airport investment around the world and has provided EUR 12.5 billion for new airports and airport upgrading in the last decade. This has included runway improvements in Maputo, upgrading regional airports in Tanzania, air traffic control in Madagascar and West Africa, as well as Heathrow Terminal 5, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt and Paris airports. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union, owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)