International Internet Censorship Care Package

For those of you who might be unaware, last month Egyptian voters allegedly passed new Constitutional Amendments that will allow Egyptian President Adbel Fattah al-Sisi to remain in power, unchecked, until at least 2030 – when the next round of national elections will take place. However, what has largely gone under reported is the fact that those same constitutional amendments also allow al-Sisi to block Egyptian based Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from allowing access to over 34,000 websites – adding to countless other cyber/internet crackdowns enacted by the President over recent years.

Learn More – NetBlock Report of Egyptian Internet Censorship May 2019:

In response to these new amendments, and in addition to several other crackdowns against internet freedoms and freedoms of the press/information in and around Egypt, I’ve decided to release an internet based “Care Package” to the people of Egypt to better help them learn how to circumvent internet restrictions imposed by their President. Please share.

Egyptian Care Package Links/Tutorials:

Download Tor Browser:

Building & Selecting Safer Web Browsers:

Download Spybot Anti-Beacon:

Top Free & Paid VPN Service Providers:

16 Factors To Consider When Selecting A VPN Service Provider:

How & Why To Re-Route DNS Through Your Computer and/or Phone:

CgAn Internet Censorship Care Package:

Encrypted Chatrooms & VoIP Apps:

Making The Switch To Encrypted Emails:

Download ProtonVPN – Endorsed by Amnesty International:

Phone Security:

Operation Security by UnknownPress:

How To Keep An Anonymous Identity Online:

US Senate Releases Open Letter Urging US States Department To Talk Egyptian Military Tyrant/Dictator al-Sisi Down from Passing New Constitution

(AI) – Egypt’s authorities must end their crackdown against critics who oppose amendments to the Egyptian constitution, proposed by members of parliament, that will strengthen impunity for human rights violations, said Amnesty International. Many of those who have criticized the changes have been arrested or publicly vilified in the media. The organization is today publishing an analysis of the constitutional amendments which are currently being discussed by the Egyptian parliament. If passed, these measures will undermine the independence of the judiciary, expand military trials for civilians and could allow President Abdel Fattah to stay in power until 2034.

Download Full Analysis Report:

If passed, these constitutional amendments would worsen the devastating human rights crisis Egyptians are already facing. They would grant President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and security forces free rein to further abuse their powers and suppress peaceful dissent for years to come,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. “The Egyptian parliament has a responsibility towards Egyptians to preserve what remains of the country’s judicial independence and adherence to international law and reject the proposed amendments.

A parliamentary vote on the amendments is due in the coming weeks and if passed – the new draft constitution will be put to a public referendum. “Since President al-Sisi came to power human rights in Egypt have catastrophically deteriorated. Egypt’s international allies must not stand by silently as the Egyptian authorities push through these amendments while bullying anyone who dares to criticize the changes into silence. In particular, the US authorities should use President al-Sisi’s visit to Washington DC this week to publicly condemn the proposed changes.” President al-Sisi is due to meet with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington DC on 9 April.

In its analysis Amnesty International expresses concern that the amendments would strengthen the influence of the Egyptian military over government, remove the requirement for judicial review of draft legislation, as well as expanding notoriously unfair military trials for civilians and granting the President sweeping powers to manage judicial affairs and appoint senior judges.

Other amendments that have drawn criticism from opponents are the plans to extend the presidential term to six years and introduce a provision allowing President al-Sisi to run for two further presidential terms.

Crackdown targeting critics

The amendments have attracted considerable criticism including from a number of public figures, human rights organizations, political parties and the State Council Judges Club. The authorities have responded by intensifying their crackdown on freedom of expression, targeting people who have voiced opposition to the amendments with arbitrary arrest and detention, defamation and even cyber-attacks.

More than 57 people have been arrested so far in 2019, with Egyptian NGOs citing higher figures, for peacefully expressing their opinions or merely being perceived to do so – at least four of them for expressing their opposition to the constitutional amendments on social media. The arrests have followed a pattern repeatedly documented by Amnesty International whereby the victims are arrested without warrants in the early hours of the morning, before being forcibly disappeared for several days. They later reappear before a state security prosecutor who orders their detention pending investigation on charges of “membership in terrorist groups” and “disseminating false information.

Several public figures – including some members of parliament –  who have expressed their opposition to the amendments have been widely criticized in public and private media and been subjected to smear campaigns. Some opponents have faced homophobic slurs, as well as calls, including from fellow members of parliament, for their prosecution for “treason” and for their Egyptian nationality to be revoked.

Amnesty International has also documented a wave of phishing attacks, that likely originated from government backed bodies, targeting independent media organizations and human rights defenders who reported  on the authorities, including the role of the General Intelligence Service, in pushing for the constitutional amendments.

Translated Nile River Phishing Report:

Last week, on 28 March, a court prevented activists from the Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition movement, from holding a protest against the constitutional amendments in front of parliament. Egypt’s Minister of Interior filed a request asking the court not to grant permission for the protest on the basis that it could “threaten public peace and security.” The court decision cited concerns that “anti-state elements may infiltrate the protest and assault the protestors, in order to frame security forces as assaulting protestors. The intimidation and harassment of people who peacefully express their opinions, including those critical of the constitutional amendments, has to end now,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

Instead of stepping up this vicious crackdown against peaceful critics, Egypt’s authorities should scrap these amendments and ensure that any proposed future changes do not violate the country’s human rights obligations under international law.

Browse Full Report:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on April 8th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits, Tweets, reports and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Egyptian Government Implicated In Massive Phishing Campaign Targeting Journalists, Political Activists & NGO’s Alike

(AI) – A new Amnesty International investigation has found a wave of digital attacks that likely originated from government-backed bodies starting from early January 2019 and involving multiple attempts to gain access to the email accounts of several prominent Egyptian human rights defenders, media and civil society organizations’ staff. The attacks appear to be part of a wider strategy, occurring amid an unprecedented crackdown on the same groups in what have turned Egypt into an “open-air” prison for critics. Because of the identities of the targets we have identified, the timing of these attacks, their apparent coordination and the notifications of state-sponsored attacks sent from Google, we conclude that these attacks were most likely carried out by, or on behalf of, the Egyptian authorities.

In recent years, the Egyptian authorities have been harassing civil society and undermining freedom of association and expression through an ongoing criminal investigation into NGOs and a repressive NGO law. The authorities have been investigating dozens of human rights defenders and NGO staff for “receiving foreign funding” Many of them could face prison if convicted. The investigative judges have also ordered a travel ban against at least 31 NGO staff, and asset freezes of 10 individuals and seven organizations. Meanwhile, the authorities have also closed El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and continue to detain human rights defenders Ezzat Ghoniemand Hisham Gaafar, directors of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms and Mada for media studies, respectively.

The list of individuals and organizations targeted in this campaign of phishing attacks has significant overlaps with those targeted in an older phishing attack wave, known as Nile Phish, disclosed in 2017 by the Citizen Lab and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

Translated English Version:

Full Nile Phish Report: 

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Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these phishing attacks represent yet another attempt by the authorities to stifle Egyptian civil society and calls on the Egyptian authorities to end these attacks on human rights defenders, and the crackdown on civil society, including by dropping the foreign funding case and repealing the NGO law.

A new year and a new wave of attacks

Since January 2019 several human rights defenders and civil society organizations from Egypt started forwarding dozens of suspicious emails to Amnesty International. Through the course of our investigation we discovered that these emails were attempts to access the email accounts of their targets through a particularly insidious form of phishing known as “OAuth Phishing” (which we explain in detail below). We estimate the total number of targeted individuals to be in the order of several hundreds.

These coincided with a number of important events that took place in the country. In the run-up to the eighth anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January uprising, which ended with the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years in power, we recorded 11 phishing attacks against NGOs and media collectives. We saw another burst of attacks during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on 28 and 29 January. The attacks peaked on 29 January, the day that President Macron met with human rights defenders from four prominent Egyptian NGOs. Later, in the first week of February, several media organizations were targeted as part of this campaign of digital attacks; they were reporting on the process of amending the Egyptian Constitution that the parliament had just officially started.

The attacks all bear the same hallmarks and appear to be part of a coordinated campaign to spy on, harass and intimidate their targets. While definitive attribution is difficult, the selective targeting of human rights defenders from Egypt, particularly in concomitant with specific political events, suggests this current wave of digital attacks is politically, rather than financially, motivated.

Additionally, we learned that multiple targets of this campaign received an official warning from Google alerting that “government-backed attackers are trying to steal your password.

No photo description available.

Google warning to one of the targets – 19 January 2019

These elements reinforce the suspicion that a state-sponsored group might be behind this campaign, further contributing to the chilling effect on Egyptian civil society and silencing those who voice criticism of the government.

What an OAuth phishing attack looks like: Step by step

Traditional phishing attacks attempt to deceive the targets into providing their passwords by creating a fake clone of, for example, Google’s or Facebook’s login page. If the target is successfully lured into entering their password, the attacker then “steals” their credentials and can reuse these to access their email account. Typically, this kind of phishing attack can be prevented through the use of two-step verification procedures such as those provided by most mainstream platforms these days, or by authenticator apps, or even better, security keys.

However, in this phishing campaign we have documented in Egypt, the attackers instead leverage a simple but less known technique generally called “OAuth Phishing.” Rather than cloning a legitimate login prompt that aims to trick targets into entering their password on a dubious-looking site, OAuth Phishing abuses a legitimate feature of many online service providers, including Google, that allows third-party applications to gain direct access to an account. For example, a legitimate external calendar application might request access to a user’s email account in order to automatically identify and add upcoming events or flight reservations.

With OAuth Phishing, attackers craft malicious third-party applications that are disguised not to raise suspicion with the victims. (More information on this functionality is available on Google Support in English or Arabic). Here we provide a step by step look at the ways in which these attacks work, and we follow on below with some concrete ways that people can better protect themselves from these kinds of attacks.

Step 1

We identified a few variants of the phishing emails received by the human rights defenders who shared these with Amnesty International. In the most common case pictured below, the email imitates a security warning from Google and solicits the target to apply a “Secure Email” security update to their Google account.

Screen Shot Example of Phishing Email Used In Attack:

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Step 2

Clicking the “Update my security now” button directs to a page that initiates the OAuth authorization process of the malicious third-party application named by the attackers as “Secure Mail.

Step 3

At this point the target is requested to log into Google or choose an existing logged in account.

Screenshot of Google’s login prompt requesting authorization to the malicious app:

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Step 4

Now the target is asked to explicitly authorize the malicious “Secure Email” third-party application to be granted access to their email account. While this authorization prompt does contain a warning from Google, it may be overlooked as the user has been directed from what appeared to be a legitimate email from Google.

Screenshot of confirmation to authorize the malicious app on victim’s account:

No photo description available.

Step 5

Once the “Allow” button is clicked, the malicious “Secure Email” application is granted access to the target’s email account. The attackers are immediately able to read the email’s content, and the victims are directed to the real Google account settings page, which further reduces any suspicion on the part of the target that they have been victim of a fraudulent attack.

In addition to Google, we observed that the same attackers make use of similar tactics against Yahoo, Outlook and Hotmail users.

Defending Against OAuth Phishing

OAuth Phishing can be tricky to identify. Often, security education for individuals at risk does not include mentions of this particular technique. People are usually trained to respond to phishing by looking for suspicious domains in the browser’s address bar and by enabling two-factor verification. While those are very useful and important safety practices to adopt, they would not help with OAuth Phishing because victims are in fact authenticating directly through the legitimate site.

If you are an activist, human rights defender, journalist, or anyone else concerned about being targeted by these kinds of attacks, it is important to be alert whenever you are requested to authorize a third-party application on your accounts.

Occasionally it is a good exercise to review your account’s security settings and check for authorized external applications. In the case of this campaign, the malicious Secure Email application will appear authorized as pictured below.

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Screenshot of the malicious third-party applications used by the attackers as it appears in the Google account settings page

You might also want to consider revoking access to any other authorized application that you do not recognize or that you might have stopped using.

Google also offers an Advanced Protection Program that in addition to enforcing the authentication with a security key, disables third-party applications on your account. Beware that enabling this configuration introduces some limitations, so make sure it fits your particular requirements before enrolling.

Here you can find instructions on how to check for authorized third-party applications on your Yahoo account instead.

Get in touch

If you received any suspicious email like those we described in this report, or other forms of suspected targeted attack, you can contact us at


Indicators of Compromise and attacks Infrastructure available here.

Following are screenshots of other phishing emails used in this same campaign:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on March 5th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Exclusive: Understanding What’s Happening Inside Sudan from Those Currently Living Through The Revolution

Over the course of the last several days and weeks I’ve been blessed to find many new friends from all corners of the world, all working together to raise awareness on behalf of the people of Sudan and help them in their quest for freedom. For the purposes of this article I’d like to draw attention to three recent developments in the world of online activism and journalism. The first is a live a report on the ground inside Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum as the protests and brutalities continue. The second is the transcript of an interview I recently held with a Sudanese politician currently sanctioned on Omar al-Bashir’s national “Blacklist” and lastly are all the most recent developments surrounding #OpSudan as the international fight against Omar al-Bashir’s Government continues.

Part 1

The first part of this article is a live report on the ground from inside Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, from the same source whom has leaked me information on two separate occasions throughout the past. His updates highlight the violent crackdowns against Sudanese students and protesters alike, which seemingly continue to worsen by the day:

Image may contain: ‎1 person, ‎text that says '‎مستهر القل ماذال راس �ي رصاص قنص اليوم واعتنالات ضرب‎'‎‎
Translation:The Killing Continues. Today sniper shot in the head. Hit and arrests.

I was sent the original video of the following clips, but for the safety of my contact can not provide it. Instead, here is the video republished by other sources on social media:

Part 2

In the second part of this article I would like to feature a recent conversation I had with a political activist living inside Sudan whom has been fighting for regime change for many years now. While I will keep their identity “Anonymous,” the source below is currently on a no-fly list – essentially sanctioned/blacklisted by the Government of Bashir. I bring attention to our exchange because I think it paints an extremely unique and accurate depiction of the events leading up to the 2018/2019 Sudanese revolution, as well as the state of mind of the people behind it.

What you should know about the situation inside Sudan is that Omar al-Bashir has begun running out of options. In fact, Bashir has now become so far backed into a corner that hes begun selling his soul to anyone willing to buy. For example, Bashir has recently sold land, territory and islands to Egypt to raise money. He is also currently offering infantry units/soldiers to Saudi Arabia in Yemen in exchange for Saudi Arabia’s continued protection of him in Sudan. He has also outsourced hundreds of millions of dollars in mining contracts to foreign countries including China and the Philippians just to raise enough money to finance his own Government.

In summery, the people of Sudan are outraged because, despite soaring poverty rates and a severe lack of resources, Bashir only continues to steal more wealth away from the country by outsourcing jobs, resources and contracts to foreign countries/governments – every single one of which takes away from Sudanese citizens and/or businesses. Not only is Bashir sabotaging his own economy by doing so, but on top of this he’s personally financing a War Effort in Yemen whilst also spending millions more to hire foreign contractors just spy on and hack his own citizens. This is all time, money and resources spent in vein, to the direct detriment of the people of Sudan. Consequentially, this is why so many people are demanding his resignation and have begun revolting against him in 2018/2019.

Transcript w/ Anonymous Journalist:

Me: Bashir knows it’s over
It took Kabila how many years to step down?
So Bashir will take time
Certainly not in 2019, but 2020

The UK already offered to pardon him for his war crimes and he still hasn’t stepped down

Me: Yeah, the ICC is a joke

he’s replaced his old cabinet with new ones and said the marshal law will last a year long, while the government crackdown on civilians and their movements has only grown.

Me: Russia pulled it’s signature from Rome Statute b/c even they know the ICC is just a power play, all they do is persecute African nations, as if the UK or US have no blood on their hands for all their Wars
I told Interpol I was going to try and arrest al-Sisi
When he came here to nyc
Was a stunt, but something did come from it, hold on


It’s complete bureaucracy tbh I mean Omar al-Bashir has been travelling a lot lately and while Sudan is sanctioned because of his actions, countries that welcome him don’t receive these sanctions

He’s proved his authority over the ICC by travelling to Qatar, Saudi, UAE and a few other countries within the past few months

Me: What’s the other side of the story?
How many supports does Bashir have?
Like does 50% of the country support him? 15%, 5%

The case against Bashir isn’t the fact whether people want him or not but the human rights violations he’s committed in his reign
currently its less than 20% that is, while the true percentage remains unkown because people going to his rallies receive transportation, food, funding and welfare.
He’s also added several protesters on the no fly list including me :joy:
which is weird since he should want us to leave.

Me: I know Sudan is allied with Russia, that is essentially allied with Qatar, Syria, Palestine

Sudan is allied with malaysia and China as well.

Me: But UAE and Saudi Arabia are different allies

UAE and Saudi are allied with Sudan because Sudan sends soldiers to the front-lines in Yemen
we’re fighting their dirty war.

While china and Malaysia monopolize Sudan’s resources.

Me: China exploits Africa, they build construction in Ethiopia like gran Renaissance Dam, mine Ghana, mine everywhere
China sees so much potential in Africa but steal all the money from Africans
Money and jobs

yup. I mean its capatilism after all, if it wasn’t china, it would be the US or russia

Me: Can you send me information on this? Sudan soldiers in Yemen
I would greatly appreciate

Sudan isn’t that great either, since most of the south’s instability is Due to the north.
Sure thing.

There’s even a video
of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed
with Omer Al bashir
saying that “Sudan has helped us in the war in yemen by Sending us soldiers who we are proud to say are on the front lines of the war”

Me: If you can please send all that and more
I never heard any of that

Video of Bashir’s statements below

Me: No problem, if you can, could you send some articles on bashir use of military in Yemen or abroad, news sources or stories from inside the country

since Saudi and Egypt starting giving up protesters to Bashir
Our news doesn’t cover that But I’ll get you some credible sources from global news
our news is controlled by his regime so it only covers stuff everyone knows or fabricated stories

Me: I was actually hoping to see you here, you have any proof or articles of bashir hiring UAE or Saudi Arabia to spy on people in Sudan


Me: Why is Sudan in Yemen, I’ve seen Somalians executed at sea, fleeing Yemen after they left Somalia for a better life. Dozens executed in boats at sea, just slaughtered, is Sudan in Yemen as a way of protecting against refugees from Somalia?

according to H.H Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ or MbZ, who is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces the Sudanese offered to fight in the frontlines so it wasn’t something requested by the Arab League.

The interview was dated 2 years ago and posted on the local broadcast television of respective countries, since then more news began to surface in online publications

Me: But what’s the end game? Sudan doesn’t even border Yemen. They have so few resources why finance a war effort like that?
Trying to impress Muslim ranks or something?

Sudan has always played both sides politically with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, The Sudanese President even went as far as appointed a Saudi National as one of his lead councils. Regularly visiting Qatar, Saudi and recently even having President Erdogan visit Sudan.

I think the president is just pupiteered by personal interest and security.
Turkey has already supposedly bought an island a few months ago which is on Sudanese soil, while Sudan gave up part of a bordering territory to Egypt since Egypt has been the one governing that territory its only in recent years have they realized about this issue. The main import/export port in Port Sudan was licensed to a Filipino company who will manage it.

I know but I don’t see how that could work.
The major issue has always been between the Sunni and Shia Muslims not within the Sunni Muslims themselves and as of right now its an issue of containing the Arab spring.
Look at Tunisia for example
Or Algeria

Me: What is Sudan’s top export? I was going to say Qatar and Saudi are on two sides of the war

Sudans Exports are Arabic Gum and its the worlds 2nd largest African exporter of gold.

Me: And they sold gold mining to Philippines?

they sold the port that deals with all the import and exports
so now all the profits go to a philipino company.
we also have uranium, but cant find resources for it

Me: I was telling you about China in Ethiopia and Ghana.
Modern economic imperialism
this website is blocked idk why
New Uranium Mining Projects – Africa
Russia and China consider joint exploitation of uranium deposits in Africa …… In Sudan, uranium prospection and exploration is being performed by Brinkley …
‎Botswana · ‎Central African Rep. · ‎Congo, Dem. Rep. · ‎Egypt

People also search for
uranium in africa map
wise uranium
goviex uranium
uranium price per gram
african country with rich uranium deposits

Me: I think I am getting the framework of my next article

idk how you can write that much :ok_hand: but its good reads

The meeting “discussed the opening of investment in uranium after consultations with the security authorities,” Alsir said.
Alsir didn’t elaborate on foreign partners that the government consider to mine the nuclear fuel in Sudan and under which conditions. Sudan does not have the needed technology to develop this industry. this is from an article in

Part 3

In this last part of the article I would like to draw attention to recent developments surrounding #OpSudan, an international hacking campaign designed to interfere with Omar al-Bashir and his Government by any means necessary. Most recently, over the course of the last 36 hours or so, “Al1ne3737” of the international hacking group known as “Pryzraky” has released a series of hacks and leaks effecting 3 Government agencies, 3 public universities and 1 public oil refinery.

The first round of hacks/leaks on February 28th didn’t necessarily reveal too much personal information. Rather, Al1ne3737 simply just leaked the vulnerabilities and point of failures attached to each website allowing hackers to grain remote access to it. The second round of hacks on March 1st however revealed much more personal information, including the names, email addresses and passwords of hundreds of registered users affiliated with each site, also allowing for hackers to gain administrators level access over each website.
Targets 2/28/2019:

National Council of Medical Specialties: hxxps://
National Blood Transfusion Agency: hxxp://
Ministry of Urban Planning: hxxp://

Raw Data Leak:
Targets 3/01/2019:

Alsharg Alahlia College:A hxxp://
University of The Fasher: hxxp://
Mashreq University: hxxp://
Obied Refinery Co. LTD: hxxp://

Raw Data Leak:
Data Download (16.89 KB):

Year In Review: State of Human Rights In North Africa & Middle East 2018 – 2019

(AI) – On February 26th 2019, Amnesty International released their newest investigative report entitled “Human Right In The Middle East & North Africa.” The 77 page document highlights the state of human rights, current affairs and political issues, events and debates throughout the geographic areas of the Middle East and North Africa. More specifically, Amnesty’s report highlights the state of affairs in 17 countries during the calendar year of 2018, including Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Israel and Palestine.

More Information – Review of Report:
Download Full 77 Page Report Here:

View Full Report:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 25th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Understanding How/Why Non-Governmental Organizations Worldwide are Increasingly Coming Under Attack from Their Governments

(AI) – Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

Entitled “Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations,” the report reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

Access/Download Full Report Here:

We documented how an increasing number of governments are placing unreasonable restrictions and barriers on NGOs, preventing them from carrying out crucial work,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “In many countries, organizations who dare to speak out for human rights are being bullied into silence. Groups of people who come together to defend and demand human rights are facing growing barriers to working freely and safely. Silencing them and preventing their work has consequences for everyone.

In the past two years alone, almost 40 pieces of legislation that interfere with the right to association and are designed to hamper the work of civil society organizations have been put in place or are in the works around the world. These laws commonly include implementing ludicrous registration processes for organizations, monitoring their work, restricting their sources of resources and, in many cases, shutting them down if they don’t adhere to the unreasonable requirements imposed on them.

A global problem

In October 2018, Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior rejected registration applications from 18 international NGOs, and dismissed their subsequent appeals, without giving a reason.

NGOs in Belarus are subjected to strict state supervision. Working for those NGOs whose registration request is rejected (often arbitrarily) is a criminal offence.

In Saudi Arabia, the government can deny licenses to new organizations and disband them if they are deemed to be “harming national unity.” This has affected human rights groups, including women’s human rights groups, who have not been able to register and operate freely in the country.

In Egypt, organizations that receive funding from abroad need to comply with stringent and arbitrary regulations. This has led many human rights defenders being banned from travel, having their assets frozen and prosecuted. Some could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of receiving foreign funding.

Amnesty International’s offices around the world have also come under attack. From India to Hungary, authorities have abused our staff, raided their offices and frozen their assets in a further escalation of their attack on local organizations,” said Kumi Naidoo.

Locked up for failing to comply

Many countries, such as Azerbaijan, China and Russia, have introduced further registration and reporting requirements for NGOs. Failure to comply means imprisonment, a punishment Azerbaijani human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, interviewed for the report, knows all too well. “I was arrested in connection with activism and demonstrations carried out with my Human Rights Club,” said Rasul, who was released from prison in 2016, after being detained for over a year. “This created an awful atmosphere. Those not arrested or investigated had to close their organizations or stop their projects. Many left Azerbaijan to work abroad.

This restrictive regulation means NGOs are under constant scrutiny by the authorities. In China, new legislation tightly controls the work of NGOs from registration and reporting to banking, hiring requirements and fundraising.

In Russia, the government has labelled NGOs who receive foreign funding “foreign agents” – a term synonymous with “spy,” “traitor” and “enemy of the state.” The government applies this legislation so broadly that even an organization supporting people with diabetes was heavily fined, put on the “foreign agents” register and forced to close in October 2018. Medical, environmental and women’s groups have also come under fire.

Ripple effect

The repressive policies of the Russian government have caused a ripple effect reaching several other countries. In Hungary, a number of NGOs are being forced to label themselves as “foreign funded” as the government seeks to discredit their work and turn the general public against them. Organizations failing to comply with these rules face high fines and ultimately the suspension of their activities. Organizations working in support of migrants and refugees have been purposefully targeted and their staff harassed after a new set of laws were passed in June 2018.

We don’t know what is going to happen to us and other organizations, and what laws will be passed next,” said Aron Demeter, from Amnesty International Hungary. “Several members of our staff have been subjected to online trolling, abuse and threats of violence. Some venues refused to host our events and there were schools that refused to hold human rights education activities for fear of repercussions.

In some countries, the attack on NGOs is particularly targeted against organizations that defend the rights of marginalized groups. Those promoting women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTI rights, the rights of migrants and refugees and environmental groups are among the worst affected.

No one should be criminalized for standing up for human rights. World leaders should be aiming to guarantee equality and ensure people in their countries have better working conditions, proper health care, access to education and adequate housing – not targeting those who demand them,” said Kumi Naidoo. “Human rights defenders are committed to creating a better world for everyone. We’re not going to give up the fight, because we know how important this work is. World leaders reiterated their commitment to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders at the UN Headquarters in December 2018 during the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on HRDs. They must now ensure it becomes a reality.

Restrictive laws are also seen in many other countries, even those regarded as more open to civil society such as the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA. According to CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists, Amnesty International’s report has come at a pivotal time. “This report is timely given the proliferation of restrictions on the legitimate work of civil society organisations,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer from CIVICUS. “By shining a spotlight on the challenges, those who support civil society and human rights values can help stem the tide.

Amnesty’s Full 54 Page Report:

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Notes to editors: Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizationsis the third report in a series of publications from Amnesty International’s Brave campaign documenting the global crackdown on those who defend and promote human rights. Amnesty International’s Brave campaign aims to strengthen the recognition and protection of human rights defenders around the world.

This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 21th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits, Tweets and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Met Keizer, The World’s Most Famous Artist That No One Knows

I’ve said many times before that I think my right side brain is dead, because I’ve just never understood the whole concept of “Art,” what constitutes art, or what makes certain pieces of it better or more valuable than others. Even when I was growing up and was told to draw something, anything at all, my mind would draw a complete blank and I just couldn’t quite figure out what to do. “Imagination” and/or “fiction” have never been my strong-suits.

While I’m on the subject, the other day while I was in the sauna room I found myself having a conversation with an art history teacher at NYU, asking him the question “do you consider writing to be a form of art?” To which he responded after getting a perplexed look on his face, “I’ve never really thought about it like that. I guess you could look at books like Huckleberry Finn as a work of art in a way, but no, generally writing itself isn’t considered art.” At the time, I had only brought up the question because I consider my website and all of the articles I produce on it pieces of art, going as far as to explain how I am attempting to “turn writing back into an art” by making/producing articles that no one has ever seen or read before.

He didn’t really know what to say after that, he just kind of shrugged off the comment and looked away with a slightly disgusted look on his face – clearly unimpressed by the conversation. It just never seems to fail. I’ve seen so called “Master Pieces” of art in museums worth millions, but which just looked like random scribbles of paint thrown onto canvas to me. I’ve seen some of the worlds “greatest” portraits hanging on walls and just thought to myself, “how boring. Who would be interested in making or owning that?” The whole notion of “fine art” is just completely beyond my understanding or over my head – I’ll let you decide which.

With that established, there’s no denying the fact that I clearly see or interpret artwork in a completely different way than most everyone else. It is for this very reason that I am creating this article here today, highlighting the work of my personal favorite artist; Keizer.

For those of you unfamiliar, Keizer is an Anonymous street artist from Egypt. While not much is known about them, their artwork is the product of a dark mind, molded by years of poverty, oppression, anger and trauma/tragedy, particularly following the Rabba Massacre of 2011 – emotions which all come through clearly in their work. In many ways I consider Keizer to be more of an activist than artist, in that they never draw attention to themselves – only to their artwork. For years Keizer has been a world famous artist, but no one so much as knows their real name or has ever seen their face. They make absolutely no money for their work, instead composing their art in silence, covered by the dark of night in public just to provoke thought or raise awareness when people wake up in the morning. Perhaps this is why I enjoy Keizer’s work so much, because they are a true original who produces work for no other reason than they love doing it, not for the “glitz” and “glamour” and “fame” like everyone else. Honestly, how can you not respect that?

Keizer Gallery:

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How French Weapons & Political Support Enables Egypt’s Continued Human Rights Violations

(Le Monde) – On January 27, President Emmanuel Macron began his first official visit to Egypt. Relations between the two countries and presidents have never been warmer. Macron has justified France’s support for Egypt, despite the well documented human rights abuses by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, by saying that France considers Egypt a bulwark against terrorism. Macron has gone as far as to say that “Egypt’s security is France’s security.

In the name of this friendship, France has sold many weapons to Egypt, overtaking the US to become Egypt’s main arms supplier between 2013 and 2017. In 2017 alone, it delivered more than EUR 1.4 billion worth of military and security equipment. France has provided warships, fighter jets, and armored vehicles, while French companies – with the government’s approval – have provided surveillance and crowd control tools. Last December in Cairo, French Defense Minister Florence Parly cut the ribbon with al-Sisi for Egypt’s first arms show.

When Macron has been criticized for his support for al-Sisi, his answerhas been that he wants to be pragmatic and “does not want to lecture” al-Sisi on human rights. But the issue here is not about France lecturing Egypt or a case of naïve activists unaware of the security risks in Egypt. The issue is about France directly enabling abuses and not respecting its own international obligations regulating arms sales, which prohibit arms transfers to countries where there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations.

The French authorities contend that they have only licensed military equipment as part of the “fight against terrorism” in Egypt and not for law enforcement operations. But as recent reports by Amnesty International and FIDH have demonstrated, French-supplied armored vehicles were used by Egyptian security forces to violently disperse peaceful sit-ins across the country. Amnesty International noted, “French vehicles were not merely assisting the security forces, but were themselves tools of repression, playing a very active role in the crushing of dissent.

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In response to the criticism, the French government argues that such exports were intended for the Egyptian military, not the police. But France should have monitored the use of weapons and equipment it exported, and there is no evidence that France put a stop to the weapons transfers once it became clear that Egypt had diverted their use.

In addition to its direct support for the military and police, the French government has authorized French companies to sell Egyptian authorities various surveillance systems for intercepting communications and controlling social movements. The Egyptian state’s ever-expanding surveillance has been used to target human rights and labor activists, LGBT people, political activists, and academics. Al-Sisi’s fear of social movements is so deep that in December his government even banned the sale of yellow vests in fear of copycat protests in advance of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

Even France’s claims that al-Sisi is essential to the fight against terrorism looks shaky on closer inspection. Egypt is indeed facing a dangerous insurgency by extremist fighters in the northern Sinai Peninsula, a historically marginalized territory. But the way the Egyptian security forces have countered this insurgency has been a textbook case of abuses that have not just violated human rights but alienated large segments of the local population that these actions are supposed to protect.

Egyptian forces carried out unlawful mass destruction of homes and forcible evictions of tens of thousands of residents in northern Sinai with little or no help or temporary accommodation for the people forced out of their homes. Human Rights Watch’s research shows that the Egyptian military and police have carried out widespread arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, in northern Sinai while attempting to conceal these abuses through restrictions on independent reporting. Residents of the area told us that they no longer knew whom to trust. France is happy to whitewash these abuses in the name of the fight against terrorism.

In other parts of Egypt, the situation is not much better. Torture and enforced disappearances occur regularly, and overcrowded prisons with brutal detention conditions are becoming breeding grounds for radicalization, former inmates say. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have used the cover of counterterrorism to go after all forms of dissent. Egypt has not only banned the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but also secular groups like the April 6 Youth Movement, an activist group that played a key role in the protests organized against Hosni Mubarak in 2011. A March 2018 by the Interior Ministry portrays a threat to Egypt’s security emanating from groups ranging from ISIS to human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

By offering unconditional and uncritical support, France has made it harder to get Egypt to revisit its current approach. Despite the government’s massive military efforts, northern Sinai residents hardly feel more secure. Many displaced by the violence in past years have reported losing hope of going back home. According to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of armed violent events in Egypt nearly doubled between November and December 2018 due to the escalation of the fighting between Egyptian forces and the Islamic State. According to ACLED, Egypt became the third-most-active country in terms of violence on the African continent in December, after Somalia and Nigeria.

In this context, one wonders who is being naïve in their approach to Egypt. The human rights groups who are documenting an out of control “war on terror” that seems to be creating more enemies by the day or a French government which keeps throwing weapons at a problem that seems to be getting worse? No one is asking President Macron to lecture al-Sisi, but rather to meet his own obligations to respect human rights. France should suspend all sales and provision of security-related items and assistance to Egypt until the government ends serious human rights violations, and Macron’s government should introduce effective end-use monitoring to ensure that France is not complicit in grave crimes.

This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on January 27th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets and videos added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs