Rape of Five-Year-Old Will Test Police Accountability in India’s New Law | 

India Rape Outrage

A 24-year old man in Delhi has been arrested in connection with the brutal rape of a five-year-old girl, his neighbor, whom he kidnapped and held for days without food.

The young girl remains in critical condition from the torture and injuries she suffered while held captive. Indians are again outraged, as much by the horrific act as by the response from the police.

This high-profile incident comes less than one month after India’s Parliament passed a new rape law, spurred by another high profile case – the gang rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus in December 2012. Protestors have again taken to the streets, with demonstrations through the weekend and more planned this week.

Yet the perpetrator, whose actions are unquestionably evil, is not the primary focus of such protests and outrage. Rather, protestors are decrying the ineptitude and lethargy of the Delhi police who investigated the case. Continue reading

Jailed Malawi journalist Collins Mtika set free, for now | 

Collins Mtika

My friend and journalist colleague in Malawi, Collins Mtika, was released from jail yesterday.

I took notice of Collins’ arrest last week thanks to Sika Holman (here is her blog on the Malawi protests). I tweeted about it, emailed about it and eventually wrote about what little I knew — that Collins had been taken away by the police for doing his job, covering public protests.

He wasn’t the only journalist in Malawi detained, or beaten up, by the police. But he’s the only one I know there.

I talked to him today after his release. Here’s a report on his release from the Malawi Democrat.

Collins said he was jailed for four days and nights, in a cell crowded with others– some bleeding from gunshot wounds, some sick with diarrhea. It was too crowded to lie down in so he basically went four days without sleep. Very hot. No toilet. No food provided (see his graphic description below).

Collins was detained without charge by the police for doing his job — covering protests against the government. This was in the northern city of Mzuzu.

“They never charged me but I was told I was being held for writing stories critical of the government,” he told me by telephone yesterday.

The people of Malawi are not the only ones critical of their government. Today, the U.S. government announced it was suspending aid to Malawi because of concern about human rights abuses.

Continue reading

One view on the meaning of the Arab revolt | 

Like many Americans, if not most, I’ve been captivated with all the news of the “revolution” that is now roiling Egypt and much of the rest of the Arab world. But what’s it all mean for rest of us, for the humanosphere?

Flickr, darkroom productions

Protesters in Cairo

There’s plenty of opinion, hand-wringing and alarmist commentary out there. But I thought this op-ed by Bassam Hassad, a Middle East expert at George Mason University and Georgetown University, was especially interesting and thought-provoking. Continue reading

Egypt protests turn violent, Mubarak not ready to leave yet | 

The political uprising in Egypt took a violent turn recently, as government supporters (whom many reports say are being identified as often police or security force personnel in civilian clothes) clash with protesters on the street still calling for immediate regime change.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who earlier reshuffled his political leadership and promised reforms in an unsuccessful attempt to mollify the protesters, also has said he won’t stand for re-election next fall.

Not good enough, say the demonstrators. They want Mubarak out now.

As I’ve said before, among the best blow-by-blow news coverage of all this is on Al Jazeera English livestream. Some have complained to me that the Qatar-based news network is too biased, but I think the coverage is actually no more biased (perhaps less so) than what you see in American media.

Beyond the breaking news, here are some articles offering perspective:

The Guardian: Who’s Behind the Egypt Protests? (Hint: No, it’s not the Muslim Brotherhood … though the American media tends to always go there …)

Wall Street Journal: The Politics of Food Prices in Egypt.

Huffington Post: The Missing Link in Egyptian Protests.

USA Today: Egypt Rejects Obama’s call for Immediate “Transition.

That’s the word other political leaders are all using – transition. It’s funny how in these moments of crisis, violence and turmoil, politicians tend to move even more forcefully into euphemism.

Egyptian military with people, against police: Is it over for Mubarak? | 

If this video footage today from Egypt is representative of what’s going on there, it sure looks like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak better start packing his bags.

When the military teams up with the protesters against the police, it’s a bad sign for the current government.

Protests continue in Egypt, Yemen while Algeria throws wheat at the fire | 

Protests calling for political change in Egypt and Yemen appear to be gaining momentum, sparked by the successful people’s revolt in Tunisia.

Those two countries appear to be the main hotspots right now, though this trend of uprisings is much more widespread. GlobalPost has a nice (but long) summary of the “region in upheaval.”

A somewhat oddly headlined story in the New York Times — Egyptian Markets Fall as Protests Gather Support — actually describes much more of what’s going on in Egypt than its impact on the market. For example, the famed Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize winner (and nuclear arms inspector) Mohamed ElBaradei has publicly supported the protests and urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Meanwhile, similar protests are going on as well in Yemen while the Tunisian spark appears to have been snuffed out in Algeria for the moment anyway, by the Algerian government buying a huge amount of wheat.

Huh? It’s about food? You probably thought it was about freedom and democracy. Well, it is. Many say the bulk of the protests are really being fueled by the bad economy and rising food prices. I guess Algeria can test that theory. It may be able to buy some quiet time with these wheat purchases, but we’ll see if that quells resentment built upon a long history of political repression.

Egypt to follow Tunisia? | 

Protests have erupted in Egypt as people demand political change, the demonstrations apparently prompted by the successful (so far) people’s revolution in Tunisia.

CNN questions whether Egypt will go the same way as Tunisia and examines some key differences that may prevent the popular revolt in Cairo from catching fire as it did in Tunis. The BBC reports that President Mubarak is determined to crack down on protests

In addition, TechCrunch says the Egyptian government is working hard to block social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, which have been used by protesters to organize and communicate.

Here’s a scene taken by someone of protests in the streets: