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tv   Our World  BBC News  February 25, 2018 3:30am-4:00am GMT

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the united nations security council has unanimously passed a resolution calling for a 30 day humanitarian ceasefire across syria. it follows a week of intense bombardment of the rebel—held enclave of eastern ghouta, in the suburbs of damascus. the truce would allow for aid and medical evacuations. parents who fear their daughters have been abducted by boko haram jihadists in nigeria have released a list of more than 100 names. up to now, it hadn't been clear how many girls were missing following the attack on a boarding school. president muhammadu buhari has called it a national disaster. and there have been clashes in italy during rallies and protests a week before the general election — with immigration at the top of the agenda. in milan, police with batons beat back anti—fascist demonstrators. now on bbc news, it's time for our world: crushing dissent in egypt. welcome to egypt.
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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've been using live rounds. i've been the bbc‘s correspondent in egypt for the past four years. i've tracked the escalating crackdown on the streets. gatherings like this are few and far between. gunfire. and i've witnessed peaceful protesters being targeted. this way. i've never seen a regime as bloody as sisi's regime. a regime where growing
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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 in february 2011 — the night the people broke free of president hosni mubarak, ending 30 years of authoritarian rule. or so they hoped.
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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's just the way the authorities want it. it's 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
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by the islamist mohamed morsi of the muslim brotherhood — egypt's first democratically elected president. yelling. 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 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.
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like alaa abd el—fattah, one of egypt's best—known dissidents. he's 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's because of that that he's been put away and deactivated. i met alaa abd el—fattah in april 2014. he'd already been charged and he talked about how much worse 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
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that it was worth it and people were taking these risks without feeling any kind of despair. right now, it's looking very 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 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, the authorities were not. protests are effectively banned. i was in court to see him being convicted.
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0thers 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 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.
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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 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,
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there's 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's 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've looked into many cases — disappearances, torture, people whose loved ones were killed in custody — and those families were too frightened to appear. they tell us they're afraid another loved one will be arrested if they do. those who end up in custody can expect the harshest treatment —
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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 "a nation without torture". now 22, he is 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
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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 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. 0ne place to go for support.
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the al nadeem centre in cairo. for more than two decades, 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, ever that bad. so how widespread would you say the practice is now? as widespread as the country.
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what would you say to government officials here in egypt who deny there is torture? you're 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.
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he tells me witnesses saw him being taken away by the security forces. the years of fruitless searching 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
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a united nations working group on disappearances. however, at cairo airport he is well joined the ranks of the disappeared 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.
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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,
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officers are punished. they have also denied there are enforced disappearances and widespread human rights abuses. 0n 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
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to wage war on dissent. having been here for overfour years i know a lot of the problems that egypt is facing. 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 am leaving here with questions. how long before all of the repression here starts to backfire? and how many more prisons can the regime fill? hello there.
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if you were in the sunshine outside the wind yesterday, it didn't feel too bad. but it will get colder — not necessarily today. in fact, it will be pretty much the same as yesterday. we have a stronger wind in the south. but the wind is getting stronger and the air is getting colder as we pull this cold air in from eastern europe into next week. so, yes, a cold start for our sunday morning, —5, —6 in the countryside, so maybe a little bit of hoarfrost around, some frost on the cars, even a little low cloud to clear, but that should clear quickly. the main changes through the day are a little more cloud for eastern parts of england and eastern scotland, so maybe a bit grey and cold here, even the odd snow flurry, but in contrast, we may see more sunshine than yesterday for western scotland, northern ireland and the far south of cornwall. but there will be a stronger breeze here, so more of a wind chill. it won't be a warm day anyway, as you can see, and especially so for the eastern side of england and scotland. the wind is stronger for england and wales at the moment but it does
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pick up in the week further north. and then it gets interesting through the coming night. look at this — the risk of snow showers. and they will be snow showers because look how cold the air is again through the coming night. so as they come into the cold air, they will fall as snow. so it is likely we will see the first of our snow showers. several centimetres in a few places during the course of monday. again, the details will be quite difficult in the coming few days, but perhaps eastern scotland, eastern counties of england, the midlands as well at risk on monday, as well as southern coastal counties of england, possibly the east of northern ireland as well. so those are the the areas most at risk of a few centimetres of snow. it certainly will not be a warm day. we lose the sunshine, so it will feel even colder because the wind is strengthening, especially for england and wales on monday. so yes, a notch colder, if you like, that is the way it will feel. and then, the risk of disruption rises through monday night into tuesday with a more widespread area of snow coming in. again, the details are quite elusive as to where this snow
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is going to fall but there will be several centimetres, even at lower levels, such is the chilliness of the air with plenty of snow showers packing in behind as well. so i think tuesday, wednesday look like we will see significant disruptions of snow. temperatures falling away as well. we're losing the sunshine, the air is getting colder, the winds are getting stronger so the wind chill becomes pretty severe from midweek onwards. as well as that snow — the snow will be blowing around, so you can see how deep and cold that air is. so for the middle of next week onwards, the wind chill becomes quite severe, we could have disruptive snow, of course, before then. bitter winds. yes, there will be sunshine, still best in the west, but the warnings are there are on our website. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is nkem ifejika.
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our top stories: after days of wrangling, the un security council passes a resolution calling for a 30 day ceasefire across syria. a list of 105 names of missing nigerian girls is released by their parents, following their suspected abduction by boko haram jihadists. thousands march in rival demonstrations, just days before italy votes in a general election. and one of bollywood's superstar leading ladies, sridevi, has died. we'll be looking back at her rich legacy.
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