Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, 2011 was the year a tightly wound coil was suddenly unsprung. Ordinary people flooded the streets to demand change, releasing energy and power that continues to transform the region.
Millions of people, many of them women protesting for the first time, risked their lives to publicly express a deep, burning need for change. Government forces responded with relentless brute force.
It’s not over yet. Brave individuals continue to put their safety on the line, standing against governments that respond with guns, tear gas and tanks.
Our special in-depth report “Year of Rebellion: The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa,” documents this historic, tumultuous year and issues a bold human rights agenda for change in the region. Foremost among these recommendations: stop sending weapons to governments that use them to kill and repress their own people.
I’m going to be talking a lot about weapons sales in the next few months — it’s an issue I care about, and one that has major implications for human rights.
Take Egypt. Last January, Egyptian protestors stormed Tahrir square and braved violent government crackdowns as they drove President Hosni Mubarak from power.
One year later, Egypt’s new military government continues using excessive force against protestors. Many have died. The government has even fired tear gas canisters that say “Made in the USA.”
This is unacceptable. Urge the U.S. State Department to stop authorizing the shipment of U.S.-manufactured tear gas, bullets, and other military equipment that could be used by Egypt’s military to violate human rights.
The people of Egypt have achieved momentous change, but their gains are fragile.
Your solidarity is needed still.
Thank you for all you do to support human rights.
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA