Tuesday, March 6, 2012


"Syrian refugees walk outside their camp, just at the border with Syria, in Reyhanli, Turkey, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Some 10,000 Syrian refugees have trickled into neighboring Turkey over the past year fleeing fighting in Syria." (AP Photo/Gaia Anderson)
Syria Eyewitness: Homs Refugees Tell of "Slaughter"
By Paul Wood
BBC Online, March 5, 2012
"The car headlights picked out a ragged group of men, women and children walking up the road towards us. Night had just fallen. There was a bitterly cold wind. They had endured a month of bombardment in Baba Amr then fled, panicking, before ground troops arrived. 'We're homeless,' a woman shouted. 'Why? Because we asked for freedom?' She said they had been walking for three days. Their journey was so long because they walked across fields and through orchards to avoid the army checkpoints. A terrible fear has seized people here about what the government forces are doing now that they are back in control. In a nearby house we sat with six women and their 17 children. They had arrived that day. There were no men. 'We were walking out altogether until we reached the checkpoint,' said one of the women, Um Abdo. 'Then they separated us from the men. They put hoods on their heads and took them away.' Where do you think they are now, I asked. The women replied all at once: 'They will be slaughtered.' We met the Ibrahim family by chance while filming an aid delivery of cooking oil. They told us that on Friday, in the Jobar district of Homs, they had witnessed a massacre. Ahmed Ibrahim told me that 36 men and boys were taken away. Among them were four members of his own family including his 12-year-old son, Hozaifa. All were dead now, he said.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Debts Closed in on Egypt Man Who Died Hanged in His Jail Cell
By Jeffrey Fleishman
The Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2012
"His mother visited him hours before he twisted the edges of his blanket into a rope. 'You'll be out soon,' she told him. 'We paid bail.' 'There's a problem,' he said. 'I owe more.' He hadn't been in his village in months, a scrap of a place tucked amid fields that stretch past the canal to the paved road. The boys on this land learn early to sharpen plow blades and make scarecrows out of grain sacks. It's cold when the rain blows and tough to make a living on, even for a man who cuts furrows. He came home, but in a way no one wanted. 'I guess his life just went black,' said the detective who was called the day guards found Shawadfi Mohamed in his cell. 'Every time he settled one debt there were others waiting for him,' said his wife, Wafaa. Carpenter. Driver. Farmhand. Mohamed was all of them. But they weren't enough in the frayed economy of the Nile Delta. Men running for parliament came up here and said things would get better; maybe they will, but they haven't for decades. No one from Mohamed's village went to the revolution last year in Cairo's Tahrir Square; it was too far and there was no money to get down there and back. People talk about a new Egypt, but it hasn't found the delta yet. The detective, a big man with a mustache who, as is customary with police officials here, asked not to be named, moved his hand in front of him like a plane in a nosedive: 'It was bad before the revolution, now it's worse,' he said, sitting in the station house. 'People can't afford anything unless it's on installments. They don't have birth control, they have a lot of kids, and they have to pay for a lot of weddings and it's all tied up in installments.' A man in the delta is not a man until he's married. Mohamed met Wafaa, a girl from another village, seven years ago. She caught his eye and he went to her family, who said yes. He started borrowing money for the dowry, the wedding, and then the children came -- three boys in five years. He thought about going to work in Libya, like many others in the delta before Libya had its own revolution, but the police wouldn't grant him a passport with all his debts. 'He loved his wife and kids,' said Hamid, Mohamed's uncle. 'He just wanted better for them.' Mohamed had $5,000 worth of IOUs spread out for miles. In this stingy land, it was a sum impossible to make good on unless a man turned to darker things. [...]"