21 May 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy

Articles

Saudi Crackdown Is a ‘Chilling Smear Campaign,’ Rights Group Says
by Human Rights Watch, 20 May 2018

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on prominent women’s rights advocates is a “chilling development” for independent critics of the government, Amnesty International said in a statement.
Saudi authorities arrested seven activists last week, one month before the lifting of a longstanding ban on women drivers. Officials accused the activists of working “together in an organized manner to violate religious and national values” and having “suspicious communication with foreign agencies,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

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Activists: ISIL fighters withdraw from Syria's Yarmouk
by Al-Jazeera, 20 May 2018

Syrian activists say Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) fighters are withdrawing from the last rebel enclave just outside the capital, Damascus.
Videos on social media appeared to show buses entering Yarmouk camp after midnight on Sunday to transport fighters and their families out of the area.
Syrian state media, however, denied that there was a deal between ISIL and the government.

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Why Iraq’s election is a remarkable victory for democracy
by Washington Post, 18 May 2018

On May 12, Iraq held its fourth national elections since 2003. More than 10 million people turned up at polling stations. Men and women alike voted freely — a rarity in the Middle East, and something that Iraqis can be proud of. Despite a lower turnout than was expected, voters leaned toward cross-sectarian lists rather than the ethnic or sect-based groupings that dominated previous elections.

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Politicians Dash Hopes for Justice in Tunisia
by Amna Guellali, Human Rights Watch, 18 May 2018

Time is running out for justice in Tunisia. The mandate of the Truth and Dignity Commission, set up in 2014 to investigate serious human rights violations of the past, is under threat and could be terminated at the end of May. The law founding the commission – known by its French initials IVD – gave it four years to get its job done, with the option to extend for one year at its own discretion, upon providing the reasons to parliament. The commission did just that in February, extending its mandate until December 2018, but that was rejected by an alliance of political parties in the chamber hostile towards the commission. 
 

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