Al Jazeera

‘Shame on you Cameron!’ Sisi’s ‘red carpet welcome’ stirs up protests

London, United Kingdom – Egyptian opposition groups and human rights campaigners have called for the investigation and arrest of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and members of his entourage during his visit to London amid condemnation of the “red carpet” welcome extended by the British government to a leader accused of plunging his country into the worst human rights crisis in its history.

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Protesters brought traffic on Whitehall to a standstill on the eve of Sisi’s visit to Downing Street. [Photo: Simon Hooper]

Hundreds of protesters, including many Egyptian exiles, gathered on Wednesday evening outside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence, where Sisi was due to meet David Cameron on Thursday morning, to express their opposition to the visit, carrying banners reading “Stop butcher el-Sisi” and “Killer Sisi not welcome in the United Kingdom”.

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Al Jazeera

UN investigating UK disability welfare reforms blamed for thousands of deaths

London, United Kingdom – The UK has become the first country in the world to be placed under investigation by the United Nations for violating the human rights of people with disabilities amid fears that thousands may have died as a consequence of controversial welfare reforms and austerity-driven cuts to benefits and care budgets.

UN inspectors are expected to arrive in the country within days to begin collecting evidence to determine whether the British government has committed “systematic and grave violations” of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

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Al Jazeera

Schoolboy accused of extremism over pro-Palestine views

Schoolchildren in the UK who express support for Palestine face being questioned by police and referred into a counter-radicalisation programme for youngsters deemed at risk of being drawn into terrorism under controversial new laws requiring teachers to monitor students for extremism.

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‘Free Palestine’ badges were described as “extremist badges” by a Prevent officer. [www.palestinecampaign.org]

One schoolboy said he was accused of holding “radical” and “terrorist-like” views by a police officer who questioned him for taking leaflets into school promoting a boycott of Israel during last year’s war in Gaza.

The case reflects concerns raised by teachers and students and also in Muslim communities about the expansion of the government’s divisive Prevent counter-extremism strategy into schools, with critics complaining that teachers are being expected to act as the “eyes and ears of the state”.

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Al Jazeera

Former child domestic worker leads fight against exploitation

“I was supposed to be the first one awake to get the children up and send them to school, and then take care of the household chores. And then I was the last one to bed at night.”

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Angel Benedicto is drawing on her own experiences to help other child domestic workers to build lives for themselves (Photo: Simon Hooper)

Angel Benedicto’s account of her daily routine as a household servant in Tanzania echoes the bleak experiences of exploited domestic workers in many parts of the world, but with one further dismal detail: even as she was expected to care for the children of the family for whom she worked, Angel was still only a child herself.

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Al Jazeera

‘Shut them down’: Protesters demand end to ‘racist’ detentions

London, United Kingdom – Migrants, asylum seekers and social justice campaigners in the UK are joining forces to call for the closure of the country’s notorious immigration detention centres amid concerns for the well-being and dignity of those locked inside.

Several hundred protesters gathered recently outside the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres, two adjacent facilities on the perimeter of London’s Heathrow Airport, the latest in a series of demonstrations intended to draw attention to a system that critics decry as racist and brutal. Continue reading

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Al Jazeera

Women seeking asylum in UK face ‘trauma and disbelief’

London, United Kingdom – Msgana walked for three days and three nights across the desert to escape from Eritrea into Sudan.

Women protest against the detention of asylum seekers [Simon Hooper]

Women protest against the detention of asylum seekers outside Harmondsworth detention centre in April [Simon Hooper]

From there, with the help of a family member, she arranged to be transported to Europe. After 30 days hiding aboard a ship, Msgana eventually reached the northern French port of Calais. She was then smuggled onto a lorry bound for the UK and, she believed, a better life.

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Al Jazeera

UK denies passport to Syria aid couple’s baby

A British aid worker based in northern Syria says he has been denied a UK passport for his baby daughter and says that sustained harassment by the security services has left him feeling he has “no home to go to”.

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif has worked in Syria since 2012. [Photo: Aid Convoy]

Tauqir Sharif, who works with his British wife in a refugee camp near the Turkish border, says that British officials’ failure to grant his 17-month-old daughter a passport has effectively stranded her in Syria, and potentially placed the family in greater danger by making it harder for them to escape if fighting breaks out.

“She’s not English, she’s not Syrian, in effect she is stateless. If we need to get out of Syria we can’t go through an official crossing. We have to be smuggled out, and face being shot by Turkish soldiers,” Sharif told Al Jazeera.

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