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Rights group says violence in North Africa, Middle East likely to continue

Violence and protests in Middle Eastern and North African countries are likely to continue throughout the next year unless each country's government recognizes the purpose behind the movement and makes the changes being asked of them, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Monday. The 80-page report also says that those participating in the protest movement [WP backgrounder], commonly referred to as "Arab Spring," for complete government reform in countries including Libya, Egypt and Iraq [JURIST news archive], remain undeterred despite displays of violence as government response to the protests. AI expressed concerns [press release] that governments were not making changes as quickly as promised. In reference to Egypt, AI said:

Freedom of expression, association and assembly were promised, but the harsh reality is that criticism of the new authorities is not tolerated, activists are being targeted, and NGOs are being threatened with intrusive criminal investigations. Peaceful demonstrators continue to be forcibly dispersed, leading to clashes with riot police and deaths. Greater political participation by all Egyptians was promised, yet women have again been marginalized. Many independent trade unions have been formed, but the authorities have banned strikes. A better future for all Egyptians was promised, but nearly one year on millions of people continue to live in slums and in poverty, and wait for their voices to be heard.
AI also made recommendations on changes that should be made in the Middle East and North Africa. Among those discussed, reformation of the security forces, reformation of the justice system and ensuring each country's laws are in accordance with international laws rank at the top of the list.

The violence and protests have have also caused concern at the UN. In December, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement chastising both the government of President Bashar al-Assad and violent protesters regarding the continuous bloodshed in Syria [JURIST report]. Also in December UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the brutal crackdown [JURIST report] on protesters by military and security forces in Egypt. In November, AI issued a report which concluded that Egypt's ruling military council has committed numerous human rights violations [JURIST report], including abuse of protesters and journalists who voice their dissatisfaction with the government.

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