Middle East and North Africa

Background information to the current human rights situation in the region.

When a  24-year-old street vendor Mohamed Bouzazi set him self alight in a small town in Tunisia in December 2010, this act of desperation and defiance triggered protests across the Middle East and North Africa, ensuring that the region would never be the same again.

Ordinary men, women and children took to the streets to demand change from the lack of jobs, lack of basic services, corruption and lack of political & human rights.  Together they succeeded in toppling the long-standing rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

But this was not without great human cost. The authorities hit back hard. They reacted to peaceful protests with brutal force, killing thousands of protesters and injuring many more. Some protesters were arrested on arbitrary charges; others simply ‘disappeared’.

Years on and, while the protest movements in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were successful in ending years of repressive rule, the struggle for real human rights reform continues.

Despite promises for reforms in Bahrain, no real progress has been made. The situation in Syria, meanwhile, has descended into a bloody civil war with both opposition and government forces committing violent human rights abuses.

For further information, please follow this link to this Amnesty UK webpage.

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