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tv   Our World  BBC News  February 24, 2018 9:30pm-10:01pm GMT

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this is bbc world news, the headlines. after days of delays, the un security council has passed a resolution calling for a 30—day humanitarian ceasefire across syria. the 15 member council voted to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations. us airlines, delta and united have joined a growing list of companies cutting ties with the national rifle association. the two airlines have ended discounts for nra members following the florida school shooting last week. china has asked the united states to withdraw sanctions imposed by president trump on chinese firms and shipping which washington says are trading with north korea. beijing said it was responsible for investigating and punishing its own companies. thousands of people have joined rival rallies in italy today,
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as the country counts down to the election in just over a week. the two sides are split on immigration — with italy still receiving tens of thousands of migrants every year. at 10pm jane hill will be here with a full round up of the day's news. first it's time for our world. welcome to egypt. enticing images of timeless hospitality and ancient attractions. a picture postcard view the authorities are keen to promote. but there is another egypt — a military—backed regime where dreams of freedom have been crushed. and this is the approach to dissent. in the last few minutes, the police have been using tear gas and they have been using live rounds. i have been the bbc‘s correspondent in egypt for the past four years. i have tracked the escalating crackdown on the streets. gatherings like this
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are few and far between. gunfire and i have witnessed peaceful protesters being targeted. this way. i have never seen a regime as bloody as sisi's regime. a regime where growing numbers simply disappear. this regime is based on terror and torture is one detail of that. press freedom is under attack. much of the brutality goes unseen. this is a story the regime would prefer us not to tell. it all looked so different seven years ago. this was tahrir square
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in february 2011 — the night the people broke free of president hosni mubarak, ending 30 years of authoritarian rule. or so they hoped. but the new dawn didn't bring a vibrant new democracy in the heart of the middle east. now, the square feels like a place of lost opportunity. well, standing here in tahrir square seven years on, there is really nothing to indicate that this was the cradle of an uprising, that it was here that the people toppled an autocrat. the monument is bare, no list of names of all of those who were killed, and that is just
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the way the authorities want it. it is as if the revolution has been erased and along with it, the hope it brought. the former military strongman hosni mubarak wound up behind bars. he was succeeded in 2012 and the islamist mohamed morsi of the muslim brotherhood — egypt's first democratically elected president. yells but morsi, too, was jailed after a divisive year in office. he had been ousted injuly 2013 in a military coup that had mass popular support. the coup was led by the army chief, general abdel fatteh el—sisi, who went on to be elected president a year later. critics say he has presided over an unprecedented assault
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on human rights. i came to cairo on sisi's watch as history was being rewritten. those hailed as heroes of the revolution were being treated as enemies of the state. like alaa abd el—fattah, one of egypt's best—known dissidents. he is seen here out on bail. the blogger and human rights campaigner is from a prominent family of activists. this was someone who could have been amazing, notjust for this country. this is someone with a really, really valuable mind and set of skills and it is because of that that he is being put away and deactivated. i met alaa abd el—fattah in april 2014. he had already been charged and he talked about how much worse
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things were than before the revolution. when you were confronting mubarak, hope was a material thing — like, you could almost touch it, you know? and so, it was very easy to feel that it was worth it and people were taking these risks without feeling any kind of despair. right now, it is very looking bleak. alaa abd el—fattah was a leading light of the tahrir protests. articulate, secular, a software developer, used to paying a price for speaking out. he was jailed or threatened with arrest under all of the recent regimes here. and when his son was born, he was in prison. alaa abd el—fattah was accused of organising this protest. the demonstrators appeared peaceful.
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the authorities were not. protests are effectively banned. i was in court to see him being convicted. others came forward to say they planned the protest. he still got five years. another member of generation jail. his fractured family go through the motions without a much—loved son, husband and brother. human rights groups say
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there are thousands like them in egypt, families of political prisoners. his sister mona campaigns against civilians being tried in military courts. his mother laila has been an activist for decades. in this household, dissent is the family business. but mona says the struggle for change is now harder than ever. the level of bloodiness is beyond anything i've ever heard or experienced. and the way they have managed to desensitise people towards death, to belittle the value of people's lives, to make people get used to death sentences, to forced disappearances and abduction, to torture, to torture victims, this is becoming daily news. her brother has another year
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to serve, then faces a further five years on probation with stringent conditions. in this tightly knit group, the empty space at the table is keenly felt. these days on the streets, there is no clamour for reform. many are struggling to get by and grateful for relative stability. and plenty prefer not to raise their heads above the parapet, with good reason. well, there is something that you can't see here but you can feel, and that's fear. it has been increasing during my time here. people who would have been ready to speak on camera two or three years ago are too frightened to do that now. in the last few weeks, we have looked into many cases — disappearances, torture,
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people whose loved ones were killed in custody, and those families were too frightened to appear. they tell us they are afraid another loved one will be arrested if they do. those who end up in custody can expect the harshest treatment — torture is nothing new in egypt, but my sources say it is now routine, nationwide. mahmoud mohamed hussein has first—hand experience of the latest torture techniques. we first met a year ago when every step was a reminder of the abuse he suffered. he was held without trial for more than two years. he says the only reason he was arrested, aged just 18, was because of his t—shirt. the slogan reads,
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"a nation without torture". now 22, he's struggling to rebuild his life, but could still be tried for attending a banned protest and joining a terrorist group — charges he denies. despite the risks, he wants to tell the world his story. aren't you afraid that by speaking out like this that the authorities could come after you again? others also want their words to be heard but feel unable to appear
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on camera, like another young man i met who described being subjected to every kind of abuse. he gave us a detailed, credible and disturbing account. he identified the police station where he was interrogated and tortured. he said he was beaten, blindfolded, stripped, kicked and electrocuted. and later, in his words, he discovered there was something worse than electrocution — he was raped with a stick. torture victims used to have one refuge. one place to go for support. the al nadeem centre in cairo. for over two decades,
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staff provided rehabilitation. but last year, the authorities moved in and forced the centre to close its doors. its co—founder, a psychiatrist, says the prevalence of torture is the worst she has ever known. i have worked in this field since 1993 and i have been hearing about this field since my university years. what i have been seeing and what my colleagues at the centre have been seeing since 2013 is unheard of. it was never, ever that bad. so how widespread would you say the practice is now? as widespread as the country. what would you say to government officials here in egypt who deny
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there is torture? you are liars. i would say you are liars. i would say you know there is torture because you practise it. what can i say? and i would say that there will come the day. maybe i will not witness the day but there will come a day when those people will be brought to justice. butjustice can be elusive for anyone ‘hidden behind the sun'. that's what egyptians call those who vanish from the streets and are held in secret by the state. most are islamist but anyone opposing the regime is at risk. human rights campaigners say enforced disappearances are a trademark of the sisi era. they have documented at least 1500
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cases in the past four years. but they believe the real figure is much higher. most of the disappeared emerge weeks or months later in custody, facing terrorism charges. but some remain hidden. like this man's brother who has been gone since july 2013. abdel moneim metwaly says his brother, amir, was an engineering student who disappeared at an islamist protest aged 22. he tells me witnesses saw him being taken away by the security forces. the years of fruitless searching
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since then have been a torment for his family. their father, ibrahim metwaly, a lawyer, has been fighting a lonely battle for egypt's disappeared. he founded an association for families of the victims. last september, he set off for geneva, to address a united nations working group on disappearances. however, at cairo airport he is well joined the ranks of the disappeared
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and was later discovered in jail. the lawyer is now being held here in the forbidding tora prison complex in cairo. his family says he has been tortured. across town after nightfall, a journey to yet another broken family. we are on our way to see a mother who has a truly terrible story to tell. we have been in touch with her over the last few weeks and we have arranged to sit down with her tonight. she lives in a suburb out near the pyramids so we are headed there now. this is zubaida, a student of 23 who wants to open her own business.
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her mother says that she and zubaida were arrested near a demonstration in 2014 and convicted of offences including attending a banned protest. she says they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and spent seven months injail but were later acquitted. she tells me that in 2016, zubaida was detained again at a police checkpoint and disappeared. she was dumped by the roadside after 28 days, a changed girl. but her legal papers show the anguish did not end there. as zubaida was struggling to recover, she disappeared for the second time last april. her mother says neighbours saw her being taken by armed and masked police. she seeks comfort now in zubaida's bedroom.
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and in mementos from the past. zu baida's treasured keepsakes are just as she left them are waiting for her return. her mother refuses to give up hope, refuses to be silenced. we wanted to ask the authorities about her zu baida's disappearance and the other cases in this report. we approached the interior ministry, the foreign ministry and the state information service. no—one was prepared to be interviewed. in the past, the authorities have told me there is no systematic torture. but if mistakes are made, officers are punished. they have also denied there are enforced disappearances
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and widespread human rights abuses. on the banks of the nile, there is little hint of change. egypt looks locked in the past. elections are coming but president sisi does not need to worry about the outcome. several potential challengers have been intimidated out of the race. many here are concerned about security amid bomb attacks by the so—called islamic state. president sisi says he is waging war on terror. but human rights campaigners say he is using that as a pretext to wage war on dissent. having been here for overfour years i know a lot of the problems that egypt is facing.
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there are real economic issues. there are serious security threats from islamic state. but this is the most populous country in the arab world and if egypt cannot steer a course towards real democracy, that is a problem for the middle east and a problem for the west. i'm leaving here with questions. how long before all of the repression here starts to backfire? and how many more prisons can the regime fill? the big freeze is underway, we haven't had weather like that in a
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number of years, so these are the key points, disruptive snow is on the way and the winds will be better, especially in the south and east, but also some sunshine at times, it won't be snowing all the time, there will be crisp blue skies. this is the picture for next week, the cold air from russia will have engulfed the whole of the continent and drifted to the atlantic, as well, this doesn't happen very often. this is what will be happening every day. monday morning, the first of the snow showers will reach eastern counties of the uk, not too many initially, and the many monday is still a sunny and the many monday is still a sunny and bright day —— for many. temperatures will struggle to get above freezing and it will feel colder than that because of the wind. it could feel as cold as —5. we will be watching the snow clouds developing as they are driven by the
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increasing east to north—easterly wind and by monday evening and the early hours of tuesday more snow showers will be bringing a covering of snow to the eastern areas of the uk. by the time we get to choose date widespread snow showers expected across the country and the strength of the wind is such that all these snow showers will blow right across the country into ireland and even out into the atlantic, so most of us will see some flakes of snow and it will be settling and of course it will be very cold. the snow showers, look out they are developing in the course of tuesday evening, into the early hours of wednesday, and on wednesday there will be even more snow showers around, and the winds will be so strong that some areas they will be drifting on top of that, especially eastern areas. again, the winner will be such that the snow showers will cross the country —— the wind. it will be hit
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and miss and it is virtually impossible to say which can will get a snow shower and which will get more snow compared to another. these are the daytime temperatures, below freezing across most of the uk. and this is a very rough guide, how much snow there could be lined on the ground by the end of wednesday, possibly 10—20 centimetres in some eastern counties, maybe less further west, but i wouldn't be surprised if it is more than we have predicted. that is just a rough it is more than we have predicted. that isjust a rough idea it is more than we have predicted. that is just a rough idea at this stage. temperatures on thursday morning in the middle of cities will be widely down to “11 on thursday, and it could be —10 where there is snow in the countryside, and then it gets very interesting towards the end of thursday. we might have another spell of very wintry weather, very snowy weather, with easterly winds and the area of low pressure bringing moisture, mixing with the cold air, strong winds on
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top of this, and this could mean potential blizzards across southern parts of the uk. at the moment we are not certain but there is the potential for this and even as we head into the ex—weekend that milder air tries to head into the ex—weekend that milder airtries to mix head into the ex—weekend that milder air tries to mix with the cold air and there could be yet more snow on the way —— head into next weekend. this is bbc news. i'm lukwesa burak. the headlines at 10pm: the un security council unanimously adopts a resolution calling for a 30—day humanitarian ceasefire in syria. a man and a woman are remanded in custody charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of two young brothers in coventry. the actress emma chambers, best known for playing alice in the vicar of dibley, has died aged 53. scotland stun england in the six nations at murrayfield to lift the calcutta cup for the first time in a decade. and we'll be taking a look
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at tomorrow's front pages, including the observer, which leads on divisions within the labour party over brexit.
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