July 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Bloggers held in Egypt without charge


breaking borders/egyptian police killing african migrants

July 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

CAIRO, July 30 (Reuters) – Egypt has stepped up shootings of African migrants trying to slip across its border into Israel in a sign that shifts in migration elsewhere in Africa may be pushing more migrants to brave the trek to the Jewish state.

Egyptian police have shot dead at least six African migrants at the Egypt-Israel frontier since May, ending a 6-month lull as police responded to what security sources said was an increased flow of human traffic through Egypt.

The renewed violence is a leading indicator of likely shifts in an African migration trail with origins south of Egypt as rising numbers of migrants stream out of Eritrea on the one hand, and an alternate smuggling route to Italy via Libya gets tougher.

It is also a sign of the unexpected potential consequences of policies intended to block illegal migration to Europe, where immigration is a hot political issue especially at a time of global economic crisis.

“The numbers (at the Egypt-Israel border) are increasing. That route is being used again more heavily than before,” said Gasser Abdel Razek, Egypt country director of refugee legal aid group AMERA.

Aid workers describe the migration route through Egypt as a river with two branches starting in the Horn of Africa and catering to economic migrants and refugees, some fleeing Eritrean authoritarianism or ethnic strife in Sudan’s Darfur.

The route splits in Sudan, where would-be migrants typically take a chance on one of two impossible choices — to brave gunfire at the Egyptian border on the way to Israel, or risk drowning on a rickety boat to Europe from Libya.

“I heard it (Libya) is becoming difficult for them … I am hearing there is strong monitoring along this route, on the border between Libya and Sudan,” said Mohamed Dualeh, head of an office of the U.N. refugee agency in Kassala in east Sudan, through which many migrants transit, especially Eritreans.

“If you are a human being, and you cannot go because one route is blocked, you look for another route,” he said.

Added to the mix, UNHCR says the migrant flow out of the Horn of Africa state of Eritrea to Sudan has doubled in the first half of 2009 to 11,000 new arrivals. Eritreans are the largest group of migrants attempting to cross into Israel.

Egypt fears the unfettered flow of migrants at its strategic Sinai border could pose a security threat in an area where it already fears inroads by Islamist militants who sometimes find refuge in remote craggy mountains.

Egypt also faces Israeli pressure to halt the migrant flow.

in the eyes of women

July 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

i am cross posting this.  i have been thinking a lot about the ways that media can be used to cross borders and to create borders.  what i love about this film festival is  that it is about breaking the blockade through whatever means necessary.  imagine putting on an entire women’s film festival in gaza

Gaza in the eyes of women

First of its kind film festival in Gaza defies Israeli blockade to bring Palestinian women movie insights.

By Nelly Al-Masri – GAZA

The “Gaza in the Eyes of Women” film festival aims to create a cultural phenomenon through cinema. Festival organisers say they are looking to communicate directly with Palestinian and Arab women directors, and that it’s no small task trying to organise an event that has no precedent in Gaza.

The three-day festival will begin in September 2009 at the Rashad al-Shawa Cultural Center in Gaza City and will include training workshops on the movie-making process using films chosen by the festival’s committee.

Itram Washah, coordinator of the video programme at the host organisation, the Women’s Affairs Center, said Palestinian directors have a need to express their causes and ambitions, and spread their message to the Arab world.

“Palestinian woman can be creative even at the darkest times”, Washah said, adding that many talented women directors need support and exposure – something the Women’s Center has been working to achieve during the past three years.

The festival expects to screen around 50 films, which include local entries as well as films from Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan and Jordan.

Washah said that the two-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip made communications with participating Arab directors difficult – and shipping even more so. But she says the blockade was unable to control the phone systems and internet – which were the primary means of “breaking” the blockade’s overwhelming effects on everyday life.

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July 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

-Salman Rushdie

a city of hustlers

July 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

ive got cockroaches as big as my palm creeping into my dining room at two am in the morning.  those are the ones that are truly evil.  the others who do mock civil wars in my kitchen and dining room having the ants come and carry out the cock roach dead.  those other ones we deal with.

the streets are filled with trash and shit. literally. they smell like three different versions of mammalian shit a mezcla if you will.  and spoiled pepsi if pepsi spoiled and didnt just self destruct after a thousand years.

i start to get alarmed when the trash piles grow taller than my head.  these skyscrapers that are homages to the past few days or weeks or months are paradise for the rats and ferrets.  i just dont want to have another rat or ferret take a flying leap over my head in a spontaneous expression of satiated joy.  once was enough.

at night after the last call to prayer.  the freaks come out to play.  three out of five nights there is a loud argument outside of our door.  women wail and scream in anger or terror.  the sound reverberates from balconey to balconey. folks throw glass bottles and four feet long neon lights at each other.

every one gathers on their balcony and watches.  folks stream in from shops and alleys to assist one person or the other, or break it up, or add more fire, or hit someone, or throw something, or wail, or laugh, or just watch.  in the back ground the car horns and bad mufflers compete.

to me this neighborhood is beautiful.  like a fraying fragment of silk.

what can i say? im a hustler baby.

and this is a city full of hustlers.

the privilege of traveling

July 23, 2009 § 7 Comments

i have been thinking  about writing this post for a while.  in part i have not done so because i do have lots of privilege and have been able to travel.  and i felt awkward, felt like i was making myself vulnerable to criticism if i wrote this.  but then i figured, fuck it.

i had one of those conversations that i seem to have every few months with someone new about how i do not take into account how privileged i am to be able to travel and live abroad.  and how privileged i was to be partnered. when i talk about my experience of being a mother.

privilege.  privilege. privilege.

1. i do take how much privileged i am into account.  actually in some ways i am more aware of certain types of privilege because i travel.  for instance, the power of my US citizenship comes into stark relief when i am abroad.

2. and i know that it is a privilege to be in a happy partnership, both of us dedicated to loving aza and each other.

3. but i also know that traveling and being partnered is not in and of itself simply privileged.


let me see if i can put it this way:

through out history.  as long as there have been wars.  mothers have traveled with their children.  they have to survive.  they become refugees.  they become slaves.  they travel to find a safe place to live and create a life with their families.  they leave home to flee abusive husbands, or advancing troops, to find doctors, to find lost family, to take care of sick family, to find work, to find food, to find peace.

yes it can be a privilege to travel.

but it can also be a privilege to stay home.

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July 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

What is to give light must endure burning — Viktor Frankl

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