Nada Dhaif, one of 20 Bahraini medics sentenced to long prison terms, addresses a crowd in Dublin about the case
The NAC members who left the assembly are Abdul Jalil Mostafa, the coordinator of the association; Jaber Gad Nasser, a constitutional law professor at Cairo University; and Samir Morqos, a political researcher. Nasser was one of the plaintiffs in the case which resulted in the first Constituent Assembly being disbanded by an administrative court.
The NAC members released a statement saying, “The newly-declared Constituent Assembly is not significantly different from the first formation, which an administrative court ruled invalid because it was based on party representation and not national representation as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood Twitter account has sent a message that "Parliament is staying," whatever that means. The Guardian is cataloging the responses, which range from the assessment that the statement shows pure delusion to strong defiance.
19 martyrs in Damascus Suburbs "Douma-Zamalka-Hamorieh", 19 martyrs were reported in Homs, 9 in Daraa, 5 in Idlib, 2 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Aleppo, 2 in Hama 1 in Lattakia, and 1 in Bokamal.
Homs is a resilient city, a city that has had to cope with constant bombardment for months, and a city that has had large parts of the population evacuated. For 19 people to be killed by today's bombardment, it is a testimony for how heavy the fighting there has been.
1822 GMT: Syria. Large protests against the Assad regime were held today in Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey. What's significant? Perhaps, several thousand people have turned out, according to witnesses and videos, most of whom were Kurdish, another sign that the Kurds are uniting in larger numbers behind the opposition.
Eight or more people were martyred and more than 250 injured according to physicians in field hospitals. Many of the injuries are life-threatening, because of the severity of the injuries and the hardships in rescuing the injured due to the continuous heavy shelling of the city of Douma for the past 8 hours using all kinds of weapons.
There are other suburbs east of Damascus that have also seen heavy fighting today, though we're not sure of the amount of killed and injured in those other locations.
1647 GMT: Bahrain. Last night we published claims that police shot a 4 year old boy and his father, both of whom are now in the hospital. The Ministry of Interior confirms those reports, and has released this statement:
The General Director of Muharraq Governorate Police announced on Thursday that a father and his young child were unintentionally injured when police officers, under assault by metal spears and Molotov cocktails, were trying to clear an intersection. Steps have been taken to send the child abroad for medical treatment to ensure his health and safety.
The General Director said that a number of thugs blocked the entrance to a village and proceeded to assault the police with Molotov cocktails and other weapons. When warned by police to disperse, the thugs continued their assault. Police took appropriate and necessary steps to disperse the crowd. An investigation has been launched to determine how the man and his child were injured in the process.
The General Director reminded the public that vandals and rioters who engage in such violent behavior endanger the lives of innocent citizens. Earlier this week two persons died as a result of injuries from Molotov cocktails thrown at an expat's house and a bomb that exploded when a person attempted to clear a burning tire from a roadway.
The details of the incident cannot be confirmed, and we have yet to see any video showing the boy and his father being shot, nor what happened immediately prior to that incident.
1559 GMT: Syria. The live-stream from Homs that we posted at 1404 GMT is still live. What we are seeing is incredibly heavy shelling, and continuous gunfire. Smoke has now filled the entire picture. It is as if the Syrian regime is attempting to level the entire center of what was once Syria's 4th largest city.
Homs is a stubborn animal. After months of being besieged, the center of the city is still occupied by insurgents, insurgents who inflict heavy damage on Assad's military whenever a full-scale incursion is attempted. Meanwhile, the battles continue to rage around Homs. This new show of strength is really a sign of desperation - without a clear Assad victory in Homs, there is no chance that he can defeat the Free Syrian Army elsewhere area, but he has had to resort to heavy shelling because he cannot afford any other sort of attack.
1455 GMT: Libya. Finally some encouraging legals news from the Middle East and North Africa - the Supreme Court of Libya has struck down a law that would ban citizens from praising deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi on grounds that is is unconstitutional:
Appealing lawyer Salah Al-Merghani welcomed the decision, which came before the country heads to the ballot box on July 7 to elect a national assembly, paving the way for a new constitution.
"This law is unconstitutional as it prevents the freedom of speech. We are nearing elections and a basic step is to ensure there is freedom of speech," he said.
1440 GMT: Syria. Another frightening video - this was reportedly filmed yesterday in Al Rastan. Injured children are evacuated from a building on fire, and while men try to fight the fire, women and children run for the door - and nearly into gunfire:
1406 GMT: Egypt. Farouk Soltan, the head of Egypt's supreme court, has clarified for Reuters the impact of today's court decisions. The lower house of parliament will be completely dissolved.
"The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety because the law upon which the elections were held is contrary to rules of the constitution," he said, speaking two days before another election to pick a new president.
Meanwhile, the live-feed in Homs continues to show intense fighting nearly continuously rocking the city (see update 1316 GMT).
1333 GMT: Egypt. Writer Bassem Sabry evaluates the Supreme Court's decision in a series of critical messages, including:
6- Notably, three of the leading liberal MPs are now also out of parliament for sure; Amr Hamzawi, Amr Shobaki, and Mostafa El Naggar >>>— Bassem Sabry (@Bassem_Sabry) June 14, 2012
7- Even though I genuinely disliked this Parliament, but what is happening today is a horrid joke.— Bassem Sabry (@Bassem_Sabry) June 14, 2012
Sabry adds this view of what amounts to a consolidation of power in the hands of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces and Egypt's next President:
If entire Parliament is indeed disbanded, that most likely means the next President will be the executive, SCAF to retain legislative powers— Bassem Sabry (@Bassem_Sabry) June 14, 2012
1325 GMT: Egypt. In a double surprise decision, the Supreme Court has not only ruled that former Vice President Ahmed Shafiq's candidacy for President is legal, it has effectively quashed the Parliament.
The ruling on Shafiq was always likely, even though he could have been subject to the Disqualification Law preventing any member of the Mubarak regime from standing for election. Shafiq was officially the second-highest candidate in last month's first round of the Presidential ballot, entering a run-off with the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi.
The shocking development was the Court's ruling that the format of Egypt's Parliamentary elections was illegal. In particular, the Court said that allowing parties to put forth members for single-candidate seats, in addition to seats based on slates of candidates, should not have been allowed.
The decision invalidates about 1/3 of the Parliamentary contests, bringing the number of "legal" MPs below the threshold needed for the legislature to convene.
1316 GMT: Syria. A live-stream from Homs is up and running, and while the video is clear the picture isn't pretty. There is once again heavy gunfire and shelling, and smoke can be seen rising from the area:
1259 GMT: Syria. Damascus is not the only area reportedly shelled today. According to activists, Homs has been shelled again today, the 9th day of heavy bombardment in a row. This video reportedly shows smoke rising from the Jouret Shayah district:
1246 GMT: Syria. In the last several minutes we've seen literally dozens of videos showing mosques, homes, and shops on fire in Douma, the result of heavy shelling in the area. We share only 3 videos below:
The nearby suburb of Zamalka:
1232 GMT: Syria. There are reports that the important Damascus suburb of Douma has been heavily shelled today, and multiple videos show smoke rising from several areas. The LCCS has posted this report, along with a video that they claim was taken there today.
Dozens of wounded were reported, and there is news that several were martyred in the Hamira district as a result of the heavy shelling and residents' inability to rescue the wounded due to the regime's gunfire at anything that moves.
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas for getting us started this morning.
"Our observers entered al-Haffeh," spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said in an email.
UN observers had been turned away from the town by regime supporters on Tuesday.
1. Dr. Ali Al-Ekri (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 5 Years Imprisonment br>
2. Dr. Nader Diwani (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 1 Month Imprisonment br>
3. Dr. Ahmed Abdul Aziz Omran (15 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
4. Dr. Mahmoud Asghar (15 Years imprisonment): Changed to 6 Months Imprisonment br>
5. Rola Al Saffar (15 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
6. Dr. Abdulkhaleq Al-Oraibi (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 1 Month Imprisonment br>
7. Dr. Ghassan Dhaif (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 1 Year Imprisonment br>
8. Dr. Bassim Dhaif (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 1 Month Imprisonment br>
9. Sayed Marhoon Al-Wedaie (15 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
10. Dr. Nada Dhaif (15 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
11. Dr. Fatima Haji (5 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
12. Dheya Ibrahim AbuIdris (5 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 2 Months Imprisonment br>
13. Dr. Najah Khalil Al-Haddad (5 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
14. Dr. Saeed Al-Samahiji (10 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 1 Year Imprisonment br>
15. Dr. Zahra Al-Sammak (5 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
16. Ali Hassan Alsddi (15 Years imprisonment): Convicted in absentia br>
17. Ibrahim Abdullah Ibrahimn (15 Years Imprisonment): Changed to 3 Years Imprisonment br>
18. Hassan Mohammed Said (10 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
19. Mohammed Faiq Ali (5 Years Imprisonment): Charges Dropped br>
20. Qassim Mohammed Omran (15 Years imprisonment): Convicted in absentia
The longest sentence, five years, was handed down on Ali al-Ekry, formerly the senior medic at Salmaniyah Medical Centre. Eight other doctors were sentenced to between one month and three years.
Twenty doctors were originally convicted by a military court last autumn. Two of them did not appeal their 15-year sentences, and are believed to have fled Bahrain or gone underground. Nine others had their verdicts dismissed on Thursday.
The court's decision quashed some of the most serious charges against the doctors, including allegations that they "occupied" the hospital and possessed weapons.
0805 GMT: Syria. A house in Homs set ablaze this morning by regime shelling:
0755 GMT: Egypt. The Ministry of Justice has issued a decree allowing military police and intelligence officers to arrest civilians suspected of crimes, restoring some of the powers of the decades-old emergency law which expired only two weeks ago.
The controversial order was drafted earlier this month, but was not announced until Wednesday. It applies to a range of offences, including those deemed "harmful to the government," destruction of property, "obstructing traffic," and "resisting orders".
Several of those provisions would allow the military to detain peaceful protesters, for example, for disruption of traffic by rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
The agency said "two persons were hit".
0445 GMT: Syria and Bahrain. We begin with two episodes in two countries of human rights, or rather the denial of them.
As 77 people died at the hands of security forces in Syria on Wednesday, Amnesty International released a 70-page report, "Deadly Reprisals", with "fresh evidence of widespread as well as systematic violations, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, being perpetrated as part of state policy to exact revenge against communities suspected of supporting the opposition and to intimidate people into submission".
The report, based on visits to 23 towns and villages in Aleppo and Idlib Provinces, claims, "Soldiers and shabiha militias burned down homes and properties and fired indiscriminately into residential areas, killing and injuring civilian bystanders. Those who were arrested, including the sick and elderly, were routinely tortured, sometimes to death."
Meanwhile, Human Rights First is watching today's court hearing in Bahrain for 20 medics sentenced last autumn to prison terms of 5 to 15 years.
EA's John Horne adds his observations:
The final verdict expected today of the 20 medics in Bahrain is a major marker for the future of the country. Anything less than acquittal for all, will signal - perhaps finally – that the regime is fundamentally wedded to its repressive path.
The international community was shocked and repulsed at the sheer brutality of the treatment meted out to individuals doing fundamentally nothing other than their job: helping sick and injured patients. If sentences, or similar, are handed down, close scrutiny should be placed on international reaction.
The US, who has sought to stage manage a reform process, cited the medics case specifically in its recent submission on Bahrain to the UN Human Rights Council. If these 20 medics aren’t freed, then, if they are to regain any credibility, US action needs to move beyond statements expressing “deep concern” and towards action that can be felt tangibly on the ground. Europe (excluding the UK) has been increasingly showing a lead on Bahrain, with EU High Commissioner Catherine Ashton making a recent series of strong statements. Perhaps the signs of tangible action may come from that direction.
Should these 20 medics finally be given their freedom, it will be treated with relief by Washington and London as a sign of reform. However, that sign will be quickly tested. On Sunday, Younis Ashoori, a hospital administrator, is due to receive his final verdict, with 4 other health professionals still awaiting theirs.
Even that only scratches the surface. As a consequence of what happened to the medics, most live in terror of attending public hospitals in what Physicians for Human Rights recently called a “militarised” system. And even that only scratches the surface.