Ibrahim Sahari, a journalist arrested at the Cairo Book Fair for handing out anti-government leaflets, has been released by the Egyptian authorities following international protests.
His colleagues Marwa Farouq and Bahu Abdallah Baksh, who were arrested alongside him, were released a few days previously (Socialist Worker, 12 February).
The three campaigners, activists with the Socialist Studies Centre, are now waiting to see whether the authorities will pursue charges against them. Activists fear that the arrests could herald the beginning of wider repression.
The arrest of the democracy activists drew widespread condemnation. Leading figures from the World Social Forum, the NUJ journalists’ union in Britain and the International Federation of Journalists sent messages of protest to the Egyptian government.
Meanwhile, the campaign for democracy in Egypt continues. Around 200 people rallied at the Cairo Book Fair last Friday to protest at Hosni Mubarak’s likely nomination for a fifth term as president.
A further rally was planned for Monday of this week, marking the anniversary of mass student protests against the British occupation of Egypt in 1946.
Campaigners are also preparing for the third Cairo Conference on 24-27 March. Anti-war activists from around the world will meet with campaigners from the Middle East to discuss solidarity with Iraq and Palestine and resistance to imperialism.
Go to www.stopwar.org.uk for more information on the Cairo Conference
Five leading militants in Switzerland’s SSP public service workers’ union are facing prison sentences of up to one year for their role during a strike in Geneva last May. The activists have been charged with “obstruction and incitement to obstruction” for organising solidarity action that shut down the city’s public transport system for four hours.
Many of the threatened trade unionists are well known on the left in Geneva. Eric Decarro is a leading figure in the Geneva Social Forum, while Paolo Gilardi is a socialist involved in the Swiss anti-war movement.
Send solidarity messages to the SSP union in Geneva at firstname.lastname@example.org
The government of Pakistan is threatening a left wing paper for “publishing objectionable material”.
The Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers’ Struggle) received a legal notice from the government’s press laws branch on Wednesday of last week.
The department objected to a poem, “Chamcha (sycophant) General Daa”, about federal information minister Sheikh Rashid. It was written by poet Arif Shah Prohna and published in the paper last month.
Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd is one of the few left wing papers in the Urdu language printed in Pakistan. It is read across the country and produced by supporters of the Labour Party Pakistan.
Go to www.jeddojuhd.com to read Weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd online.
Hundreds of trucks and tankers have been stranded on the border between Nepal and India as a result of a blockade enforced by Maoist rebels, cutting off vital supply lines to the Himalayan kingdom. The blockade started on 12 February and was still in force a week later. The Maoists are fighting against King Gyanendra, who has sacked his government and ordered a crackdown on the rebels.