2011 and 2012 were years without precedent for people in the Middle East and North Africa. Millions have flooded onto the streets to demand change - often in the face of extreme violence and repression from military and security forces.
Some, such as those in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were successful in ending years of repressive rule and introducing democracy, but have found the struggle for human rights continues. Others continue the fight, while in Syria the situation has descended into a violent armed conflict with tens of thousands dead since the crackdown on peaceful protests began in March 2011.
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We stand in solidarity with peaceful protesters across the Middle East and North Africa in their demands for immediate human rights reform.
We stand in defiance against all those who try to suppress the growing movement of people standing up for their rights.
We are urging authorities across the region to:
- Uphold the right to peaceful protest and to freedom of expression, association, assembly and information
- Investigate deaths, injuries, and detentions ensuring those responsible are brought to account
- Immediately begin human rights reforms including giving people the right to participate fully in the political process
Protect civilians in Syria
According to the UN, at least 70,000 people have been killed since the crackdown on peaceful protests first began in Syria.
Over that time what started as a peaceful cry for freedom has descended into a devastating internal armed conflict. The impact of the fighting, as ever, is being most brutally felt by civilians. Both pro and anti government forces have committed violent war crimes. Conditions have become so unbearable that hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country, and many more have been displaced within Syria.
Bahrain: Free teacher detained after calling for a strike
- Annual report 2013: Failure to address conflict situations creating a global underclass of refugees 23 May 2013
The violent crackdown has been fueled by a weakly regulated arms trade Despite evidence that arms could be used to commit serious human rights violations, large quantities of weapons were supplied to repressive governments in the region.
A year of rebellion. A year of hope
One year on from the start of the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, we took to the streets of London to ask you what you made of it. Watch the five short films
- Read our report A Year of Rebellion
- Read our Q&A on the issues raised
- See an overview of our work across the year
Global day of action: February 11 2012
On Saturday 11 February 2012 some 3000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to express solidarity with those peacefully demanding human rights across the Middle East and North Africa, and show defiance against those trying to stop them. Read more
Since people first called for fundamental change in Tunisia at the end of 2010, the echoes have reverberated around the Middle East and North Africa.
protests have unsettled autocratic regimes that have ruled for decades
with an iron fist. In a few short months, a new era has begun, marked by
unprecedented people's power and a thirst for change.
People are taking to the streets as a result of increasing frustration following years of human rights abuses including state violence, government repression and social inequalities, alongside a sharp rise in youth unemployment.
But as protestors come out in large numbers to demand their human rights they have faced deadly crackdowns. We have a number of researchers in the region recording the human rights abuses committed as people call for change across the Middle East and North Africa.
Women have played a major role in protests across the Middle East and North Africa. But any hope for equality was dashed when women were excluded from decision making processes following the fall of Mubarak in Egypt. For real human rights reform to take place it is crucial that this exclusion ends.
- Find out more about women's participation in Egypt
- Find out more about our women and human rights programme
We have a once in a generation opportunity to effect significant human rights impacts across the Middle East and North Africa. Within Egypt, Syria and Libya we aim to contribute towards human rights reforms that lead to increased freedoms, justice for victims of abuses and greater participation within political processes. The key changes we want to see are:
- Freedom of expression, association, and assembly for all human rights defenders
- States held accountable for unlawful detentions, harassment and deaths of protester
- Women's participation in human rights reform and political processes
We are also calling on the UK government to take a consistent approach to ensuring human rights are respected and protected across the region. We are asking them to:
- Ensure UK engagement in the region involves civil society, not only governments and businesses
- Not overlook human rights where arms sales, trade or national security cooperation are involved
- Prioritise women's rights, equality and meaningful participation
We have developed a number of resources to help with your campaigning including:
- 'In Solidarity In Defiance' placard (English). Download now (pdf)
- 'In Solidarity In Defiance' placard (Arabic). Download now (pdf)
- 'In Solidarity In Defiance' stickers (English). Order code CCC075
- 'A Human Rights Revolution' A5 leaflet (English). Download now (pdf) | Order code CCC076
Order now by calling 01788 545553 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the order code.
- Update UAE5 released 30 November 2011
- Mailing Crisis and transition in the Middle East and North Africa (pdf) November 2011
- Report Health crisis: Syrian government targets the wounded and health workers (pdf) 24 October 2011
- Submission to FAC British Foreign Policy and the 'Arab Spring' (pdf) August 2011
- Magazine 50 Years of Defending Human Rights in the Region (pdf) August 2011
- Report Syrian student tells of torture ordeal (pdf) 24 May 2011
- Report Misratah - Under siege and under fire (pdf) 6 May 2011
- Report Time for Justice: Egypt's corrosive system of detention (pdf) 20 April 2011
- Report The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa (pdf) May 2011