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10 August, 2017

Newsletter 631

Freedom of Expression in a week

Newsletter 631

4 August 2017- 10 August 2017

Morocco

“Hamza al-Hazin” case adjourned

Banzakan Court of First Instance decided to postpone reviewing the case of Mohammed Thaghra, AKA “Hamza al-Hazin”, who is accused of insulting public officials and judiciary men, to 15 August, at the request of the prosecution.

The security services in Agadir arrested Mohammad Thaghra on Friday, 4 August, after he published a video on the Internet, in which he accused the police men at Khamis Ait Amira police station alongside the Court of First Instance Inzgan’s public prosecution of bribery and forgery.

The case is related to a traffic accident that took place last June in the Khamis Ait Amira area, where Khamis Ait Amira said that the Royal Gendarmerie and the Public Prosecution of Enzakan received a bribery in return for falsifying the communique of the aforementioned accident.

The name “Hamza al-Hazin” in the province of Souss (central Morocco) is linked to a series of videos publish on his official Facebook page, in which he expose corruption of the public institutions.

The Moroccan authorities are used to consistently suppressing peaceful gatherings, prosecuting journalists and cracking down on government critics for exercising their right to peaceful expression of opinion, this is in addition to the excessive violence practiced against them. The attorney general of the King at Al-Hoceima’s Court of Appeal has announced the death of activist Emad Al-Otaibi at the Military Hospital, to where he was transferred to receive treatment after being injured to his head; after he had participated in a peaceful march, on 20 July, which was called by “Hirak” Movement’s activists demanding the release of detainees and meeting the necessary economic and social rights of the Rif’s residents.

For more information about freedom of expression in Morocco:

http://anhri.net/?country=morocco&lang=en

Iraq

Parliament rejects a bill on freedom of expression, referring it back to the government

The Iraqi parliament postponed the discussion of a draft law on “freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful protest”, referring it back to the government to amend it, in response to pressure from several civil society institutions, media workers and politicians.

On Saturday 5 August, head of the parliamentary culture committee Maysoun Damluji, stated that both culture and human rights parliamentary committees have agreed on referring the proposed law on freedom of opinion and peaceful protest back to the government.

Damluji added, in a joint press conference held by the parliamentary culture committee in the parliament, that the “Parliament’s Committee of Culture and Information has agreed with the Committee on Human Rights to do so because they deemed the law to have violated the Constitution”.

It is worth mentioning that «discussion of the bill was postponed for the second time in one week, the fifth postponement in two years, and the sixth since 2013», as stressed the President of the Association for the Defense of Press Rights Mustafa Nasser, noting that “the matter reveals a considerable conflict between the will of dominant politicians and state apparatus on one hand and the will of the street (people) on the other hand”.

The proposed draft law has been postponed several times because of its loose and vaguely-worded articles, such as that stipulating that “whoever insults a sacred person or deprecate respect for a religious sect is subject to imprisonment or fine”, which is a flagrant violation of Article 38 of the Iraqi Constitution that provides “State shall guarantee in a way that does not violate public order and morality: Freedom of expression using all means, Freedom of press, printing, advertisement, media and publication, Freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and this shall be regulated by law.”

Freedom of opinion and expression in Iraq is subject to harsh conditions. Violations are committed by various political parties, where demonstrators and human rights defenders are harassed, threatened and killed. Journalists work in precarious and sometimes deadly situations, reporting physical attacks, intimidation, harassment and death threats.

For further information about freedom of expression in Iraq:

http://anhri.net/?country=iraq&lang=en

Palestine

Occupation Forces close Qatari Al-Jazeera TV

In a a press conference held on August 6, the Ministry of Communications for the Israeli occupation forces closed the office of Al-Jazeera in Jerusalem on the grounds that it incites violence. Minister of Communications Ayoub Qara announced he ordered measures to suspend the work of Al-Jazeera TV in Israel under the pretext that it supports terrorism, adding that he took this decision after Sunni Arab states closed the offices of Al-Jazeera and banned its work.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the closure of Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem because of its coverage of the incidents at the Jerusalem holy site.

“Al-Jazeera continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook account on July 26, referring to the Temple Mount compound. He added, “I have called on legal authorities to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem for several times, and if is this not possible due the interpretation of the law, I will ensure the ratification of the laws required to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel. “

The Israeli occupation authorities accuse al-Jazeera of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al Jazeera is one of Al Jazeera Network based in Doha, Qatar. It has offices and correspondents in different regions of the world.

Launched in 1996, Al-Jazeera created a new concept for media in the Arab region by adopting the slogan “Opinion and the other Opinion” and presenting events from the point of view of peoples. It gained a worldwide attention in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was the only channel that air-live- the war in Afghanistan from its office there, and a video of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, in addition to acquiring a great attention by the Arab peoples in countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and covering the incidents of Israeli war on Gaza.”

For further information on freedom of expression in Palestine:

http://anhri.net/?country=palestine&lang=en

Saudi Arabia

Saudi singer arrested after dabbing on stage

The Saudi authorities arrested the singer Abdullah Al-Shahrani after performing the dance “Dab” on stage in one of the festivals in Taif.

Shahrani’s arrest came days after his video, in which he was performing “Dab” after the National Narcotics Control Board has repeatedly warned of as a symbol of drug abuse, went viral.

“We have already warned them and explained that this dance is a tradition of drug traffickers and are part of the advocacy and incitement to drug abuse, so we will take legal action against those who perform it, whether famous or not,” said Abdul-Ilah bin Mohammed al-Sharif, secretary-general of the National Anti-Narcotics Committee. Others “.

The dab – a simple dance in which a person drops their head into the bent crook of a slanted arm, while raising the opposite arm in a parallel direction but out straight – was first seen in Atlanta rapper Skippa da Flippa’s 2014 video ‘How Fast Can You Count It,’ and later went on to become an internet craze.

Dab has become a phenomenon in Europe and the Arab region. It has recently spread in Saudi Arabia, and has been used by leading companies in sportswear, and young people – especially teenagers – wore this sportswear.

For further information about freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia:

http://anhri.net/?country=saudi-arabia&lang=en

Kuwait

Human rights defender Abdel Hakim Fadhli released

In a statement issued on 4 August, the Gulf Center for Human Rights announced that the Kuwaiti authorities have released human rights defender Abdul Hakim al-Fadhli, in the evening of the first August, from the central prison in Kuwait on bail of 500 Kuwait Dinars (approx. USD$1650) after serving a one-year sentence related to peaceful protests, among other sentences.

The statement confirmed that he signed a declaration that he won’t participate in any further protests in exchange for freezing both the deportation order issued against him and another prison sentence. In a ruling on 16 February 2017, the Court of Cassation handed down a suspended two-year prison sentence with a bail of 500 Kuwait Dinars, and ordered him to sign a judicial declaration that he won’t protest any more.

Abd al-Hakim al-Fadhli is a prominent human rights activist who are concerned about monitoring human rights violations in Kuwait. He was detained, imprisoned and tortured several times and sentenced in January 2015 to one year in prison with hard labor followed by deportation after participating in a demonstration calling for Bidoon rights.

Abdul Hakim al-Fadhli belongs to the stateless group or non- citizens in Kuwait known as the Bedon.

Bedon are Badia who were born and lived in Kuwait but are denied citizenship rights despite the Kuwaiti government’s adherence to Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

As estimated by human rights organizations, the number of Bedon is more than 106,000 people, who are subjected to discrimination on a daily basis, for not fault or guilt except that they are from Badia and belong to the Shiite sect.

The Bidun situation had worsened during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when a number of Bedoons stood alongside Saddam Hussein’s forces, although another group of them were against the invasion of Iraq took part in the war to defend Kuwait.

For more information about Kuwait:

http://anhri.net/?country=kuwait&lang=en

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