Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 9th, 2016

Rampant forced disappearances in Egypt? How the combat is unfolding

For Egyptians, the risk of being snatched from the street and forcibly disappeared by the country’s security forces has never been greater.

In the first eight months of 2015, 1,250 people disappeared, according to a report by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF).

In response, the organisation has created I Protect, an app that allows Android phone users to key in a code when they are being detained, which sends three text messages to contacts and an email containing the location of their arrest to the ECRF.

The group hopes the messages will aid a quick reaction during the first 24 hours of an arrest, key to stopping people being transferred from a police station to a larger facility, making them harder to find.

Mohammed Lotfy, executive director of ECRF, said: “Being able to speak out about the arrest of an activist or protestor in the first hours contributes to the person’s transfer from police to prosecution during the legal time from of 24 hours.

“This prevents their detention incommunicado, or worse their forced disappearance, and therefore reduces the risks of being subjected to torture or other ill treatment.”

Most affected are young people, especially students, in large Egyptian cities. A report by Amnesty International in July found that children as young as 14 years old “vanish without trace at the hands of the state”.

The report called forced disappearances, where the victim vanishes into a large security facility and is denied contact with their family or legal representation, “a key instrument of state policy in Egypt”.

Hundreds of people are thought to be secretly held in the national security agency offices in Lazoghly Square, Cairo, inside the interior ministry building.

Local threats

This is not the first time Egyptians have created an app to counter state abuses.

In 2013, a similar programme was created to alert the user’s contacts that they were being arrested at a protest – although this proved dangerous for those who were found by police to have the app on their phones.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

It’s so desperate in Egypt that this is needed: “App launches in Egypt to combat forced disappearances”

Disguised as a calculator on smartphone screens, I Protect alerts contacts and local human rights group when user is arrested|By Ruth Michaelson

The developer of I Protect, who has asked to remain anonymous and has not been named as part of the project, explained that the app’s interface is designed to guard against this.

“After applying the settings, the app converts into a calculator – so opening the app just means you see the interface of a calculator,” he said. “Only the user can convert it from a calculator into the app by combining certain words and keys that they set themselves.”

State surveillance penetrates deep into the internet and phone lines in Egypt, recently sparking a growth in the popularity of encrypted messenger apps such as Signal or Telegram.

Yet the developer of I Protect says there is no need to encrypt the app as “we don’t save any data in a database, the data is shared between the user and ECRF only”.

I Protect is the latest in a series of warning apps tailored to unique local threats. India has recently seen the growth of apps designed for women, allowing them to alert contacts or the police if they feel they’re in danger from attack or sexual assault.

After being car-jacked in Kuala Lumpur, a developer created an app called Watch Over Me, which tracks a user’s car journey and sends an alert if they fail to check in at their destination.

But an app like I Protect can only provide a temporary solution to the problem of forced disappearances, as the Egyptian state does not acknowledge the problem exists.

The interior minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, said in March that forced disappearances do not occur in Egypt. He claimed reports of alleged forced disappearances were often taken directly to the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), or to international institutions, who he accused of being allied with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, to scare citizens.

The head of the NCHR, which has repeatedly demanded answers from the government about forced disappearances, recently resigned over what he described as “a lack of cooperation” from the state.

Can we let Capitalism Die and Move On?

By Joe Brewer /

Death can be very painful and confusing. This is true for economic systems just as it is for personal loved ones.

Moving on is just a hard thing to do.

It’s really tough to work through all the difficult feelings we have about loss. Will I see my grandmother again? What am I to do now that my father is gone? How does this change who I am as a person?

The same struggles we feel losing a family member are present — in their own way — as a society goes through the deep rifts of change when a paradigm comes to an end.

How will I find work now that there are no living-wage jobs? What should I study in school? Should I even go to college? Does it make sense to start a family in a world where global warming is changing everything?

Questions like these are painfully real. And every single one of us alive today has to find our own answers.

So let me ask:  will the 7.4 billion humans alive today be capable of letting capitalism die with dignity?

 I’ve been writing a lot lately about how the pain we feel is capitalism dying, that the mental disease of shame and humiliation is due to late-stage capitalism, how a healing process is needed, and the brokenness we feel in our own lives is what makes it possible to seed a better future.

What I haven’t written about  is the flip side of this massive upheaval. In order to create something new, we have to let go of a dying world order. And death is painful. It hurts a lot.

Many people aren’t ready to admit to themselves that the capitalist system we are living in has created mass povertyunprecedented wealth inequality, systemic corruption, and is damaging the ecological systems of the Earth so much that our civilization is in peril.

The drive for monetary profits — greed in its purest form — is literally killing us. So we have a choice to make. We either cling to the death and decay within ourselves and go down with the sinking ship.

Or we do the hard spiritual work of facing death with loving grace and let it go, freeing ourselves to begin the long process of building a new life for ourselves.

The harsh truth is that there is no turning back now. It’s too late to “get back to better days”, a pattern of denial that refuses to acknowledge that things have fundamentally changed.

While many people still cling to the past — as we can see in the current US election where many want to keep outsiders at bay, hold onto outdated ideals, and return to a prior time that only exists in their minds — it is essential for us all to wake up and look around.

Everything has changed. And it is only changing faster, with an intensity unlike anything that has come before. None of our ancestors lived on a planet at ecological capacity.

No one has seen the collapse of ocean fisheries, or watched global markets crash with spectacular consequences, as we are seeing today.

We are now in the crucible of change. Natural disasters strike urban centers that grew exponentially in the last hundred years. Our feet are stomped down on the accelerator as we race into the future whose past will not be an adequate guide.

Can we do it? I believe we can.

My optimism is hard-won. I have stood next to my dying mother and held her hand as the last quiver of life faded away. I have buried family and friends, standing over cold graves on frozen earth.

My heart has broken many times before and somehow in those dark trials I’ve found new resolve to carry on that I scarcely suspected might hide deep inside of me.

I suspect that many of you have felt this too. We have all experienced loss.

It is this part of our lives that can guide us forward. We can feel into the uncertainty and pain.

We can find ourselves in the most unexpected of places. And we can carry on.

When we do this, we might even discover that the future is better than the past.

That a world that doesn’t hoard money confused for wealth, a world that doesn’t see nature as a body to be raped and spoiled, a world that treats all human beings as worthy of dignity (not just those in our own tribe)… such a world is possible.

Yet it is not inevitable. It must be intentionally built brick by brick.

And that work of building a new world cannot properly begin until we let go of a dying past and move on.

Onward, fellow humans.




September 2016

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