On January 25th, 2011, Egypt started to face extreme protests by Youth Activists, attempting to end the rule of President Mubarak’s 28 years reign. The protest also revolved around issues regarding police brutality, State of Emergency Laws, lack of free elections, lack of free speech, unemployment, food price inflation, low minimum wages, rights of freedom and justice. Other sources of protests include the close ties that the current government formed with Israel, a country that the people of Egypt believe as an enemy nation. As of January 29th, at least 135 protesters, 12 policemen were killed, while around 750 policemen and over 4, 000 protestors have been injured. To counter the protests, the government turned off almost all Internet access and mobile phone service. Eventually Mubarak stepped down, and now the question in Egypt is, will the Emergency Law be removed and will Egypt finally gain the basic human rights, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which every nation in the United Nations had signed?
Egypt has been under the State of Emergency Laws continuously since the end of the Six-Day War in 1967. Although there had been an 18-month suspension of the Emergency Laws, after the assassination of former-President Mohammed Anwar El-Sadat in 1981 the Emergency Laws resumed. Under the Emergency Law, the power of the police is extended, constitutional rights are suspended, censorship is legalized, and the government may imprison individuals without reason. The law also limits the amount of non-governmental political activity, such as protests, non-approved political organizations, and unregistered financial donations. The areas that the Emergency Law legalizes are a definite violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As according to Article 19 of the declaration, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
After the assassination, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, currently aged 82, had been ruling autocratically as the leader of the National Democratic Party. Mubarak had been in office for 28 years, and was re-elected in September 2005, making it his fifth term in office. Many experts state that ‘the real center of power in Egypt is the military.’ According to President Mubarak, the reason that he continued the Emergency Law is because of the terrorist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, that might come into power if necessary actions, such as continuing the Emergency Law, are not taken.
On February 11th, 2011, Mubarak stepped down after days and days of holding on to power. In the end, it turned out that he took his time stepping down so he could transfer his assets out of the country. However, all accounts managed by Mubarak were frozen upon the request of Egyptian prosecutors, with the support of the international community. Mubarak delegated his authority over to the Egyptian military, that promised the lifting of the Emergency Law and some constitutional reforms. A majority of the demands asked by the protestors have been met, and some are under discussion. Also, to bring all the human rights violators to justice, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has called for an emergency meeting, that is to be held on March 1st, about all the human rights violations that has happened from the start of the protests until the resignation of the ex-President Mubarak. An official stated that “All those proven to have ordered and executed the attacks on demonstrators – which lead to the killing of over 350 and the injury of over 1500 – would be brought to justice no matter how high up.”
From the statement made by the unnamed official, it can be perceived that most of those that committed the hideous crimes against the basic human rights of the people shall not go unpunished. However, Mubarak is YET to be tried. Regarding implementing the basic human rights back into the lives of the Egyptian civilians, Amnesty International, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has strongly urged for the reform of human rights in Egypt. To bring the human rights reform, the Egyptian government must end torture, investigate cases where the police has used excessive force, allow Egyptians to speak and act freely, allow fair and frequent elections, and meet all the demands made by the protestors.
Now, protests have started again, asking for the ex-president to be tried and the end of military rule. Yesterday, the military intervened and caused a minimum of 15 protestors to be wounded, and two killed. The protestors chanted that the person that is currently in power is a pupet of Mubarak and must step down from power. According to the military, there no one was hurt, but protestors stated that they were beaten with clubs, while there were shots being fired.