States of emergency fest

Today, its all about states of emergency more commonly known among some of the worlds more notorious governments as how to get away with human rights violations the easy way.

Firstly, weve got Georgia on our mind (I couldnt resist it).

Yesterday, the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared a state of emergency in the capital, Tbilisi.

As the BBC reports, the leaders defended the move saying it was necessary to stop an attempted coup.

How that would then justify gas-mask wearing riot police who, looking at the pictures on Flickr, do seem to resemble a theme-park full of giant Disney characters  baton-charging unarmed protestors and firing tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the streets is beyond me.

Meanwhile, Saakaschvili has since declared himself as having respect for human rights, which must explain why The Telegraph reports that Georgias human rights ombudsman, Sozar Subari, was among those to be attacked by security forces.

Now technically Pakistan is not in state of emergency the constitution there has been suspended by President Pervez Musharraf, which is of course entirely different.

To help heres a handy guide to the differences:

In Pakistan, according to Musharraf, Islamic fundamentalists are threatening the country, rather than a coup (which some believe is precisely how he came to power).

And yesterday, riot police in Islamabad baton-charged and fired tear gas at peaceful protestors. There was no mention of rubber bullets and the uniforms were not inspired by Walt Disney.

And finally Musharraf is convinced that everything will return to normality soon, which means that the dozens of human rights activists, who were arrested at the weekend, have nothing to fear. Amnesty International is not convinced.

The future of both Georgia and Pakistan looks increasingly unclear. And in Pakistan the omens are not good. Benazir Bhutto, leader of the opposition Peoples Party, is planning to hold a mass rally tomorrow. Musharrafs police force have already warned her that it could become a target for suicide bombers.

Returning to the state of emergency theme. Next up, the UK.

The ever-quotable David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, was among the many critics yesterday of the Governments plans to double the time terror suspects can be detained without trial to 56 days.

The Independent reports him as describing the proposal as representing a permanent, undeclared state of emergency. Whatever next

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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