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Elijah on Sudanese refugees in Cairo

Elijah Zarwan, an American human rights activist who lives in Cairo, has been following the protest by Sudanese refugees against discrimination and mistreatment in Egpyt, including a number of key posts about the violent dispersal of the refugees on December 30th. His most recent post includes translations of some Arabic-language blog posts about the refugees and the violence they’ve faced. Elijah leads off with a translation of a long post by Alaa, an amazing young man who’s a leading light in both the arab Open Source movement and the Kefayah movement:

The scandal is that people have started to believe what the newspapers say

In the two demonstrations that we staged to protest against the massacre, we had lots of debates with people in the street. They repeated exactly what the media say, so much so that at first I thought they were all informers.

“Do you believe what TV and newspapers say when they talk to you about government promises and tell you how you’re doing as Egyptians?” I asked them.

“No, of course not,” they all said.

So for fuck’s sake, why do you believe them when they talk about refugees?

Elijah translates comments and responses to Alaa’s post, as well as other posts in the Egyptian blogosphere on the issue. It’s required reading if you’re concerned about the situation in Cairo, or in larger issues of human rights in Egypt, racial tension between Arab and Black Muslims or issues concerning refugees from Darfur.

Elijah points out yet another aspect of the refugee situation that causes me concern: Sudanese authorities visited the detainees in a Cairo prison. While that’s certainly not unusual – if I were detained in a Cairo prison, I’d very much like US authorities to visit me. But the detainees were, for the most part, people who’d fled Sudan to escape persecution – there’s a very real possibility that Sudanese authorities identified detainees who were political activists and asked that they be returned to Sudan so they could face questioning or detention in Khartoum.

While we’re on the subject of Sudan… African Update has a good post on the outrageous possibility that Sudan will soon be running the African Union. Greg Houle writes, “Imagine Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir mediating talks (as head of the AU) between the Sudanese government (himself) and the rebel leaders in Darfur! Clearly this is outrageous even by the standards of typical African politics.”

Let’s just hope this particular situation is too outrageous to come true.