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Loved ones still missing four years after Rabaa massacre

Radwa Magdy, 35, holds up a picture of her husband on her phonewho disappeared during the dispersal of Rabaa massacre egypCairo: Four years on from Egypt’s bloodiest day, Egyptians are still looking for their loved ones.
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“When I pass by [Rabaa Square] I feel hurt in my heart like this is where someone’s spirit left their body, or someone saved their friend, or a mother lost her son,” Sara Ali, now 26, tells Fairfax Media.

“??? and now cars just pass by casually. Even though it has changed physically, history will always bear witness that Rabaa was a massacre.”

Rabaa Square is where thousands of people, mostly Muslim Brotherhood supporters, protested against now Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in a month-long sit-in in 2013.

It turned into a battle zone of tear gas, stray bullets and blood spilling from clashes between citizens and a militarised state in the urbanity of Cairo.

Ali, a diminutive postgraduate student, sat in the square in the searing heat for days and laments how authorities have elided the atrocities committed since then.

More than 800 people were killed as the government cleared the crowds on August 14, 2013, the largest mass killing in modern Egyptian history.

For Ali, Rabaa is especially painful because days later her father disappeared. She remembers him being grabbed by state security personnel.

“It was a Saturday when they took him and it was the hardest day of my life,” she says. “I couldn’t process what was happening and since then I haven’t seen him.”

He had been to Rabaa and survived the violence, but a few days later he was captured for his supposed links to the Brotherhood in Zagazig, Morsi’s hometown where there is a large Islamist constituency. She remembers the day well.

“I could hear my sisters’ screams coming from downstairs while I was running down dragging my mum. I saw elite forces lined up outside our house just like what you see on TV. It felt surreal, like an action film,” she said. “What was weird is that the soldier gripped my father’s arm while firing his AK-47 up in the air several times, like he was parading him in front of us to scare us.”

She has been leading the search for him, along with her five sisters and brother, ever since. She has even sued the state to find out where her father is but the final hearing was delayed last week yet again.

“For the past four years, my life has been on hold. I can’t even remember my life before they snatched him.”

Ali diligently travels every week to Cairo to connect with other families of the disappeared, as well as to approach official bodies in search of her father, a surgeon.

“Now I’ve become a man. I have taken on duties like a man, going from one institution to the next all in the hope of finding my dad,” she says referring to strict gender roles still prevalent in Egypt.

She is incensed that authorities have not responded to her requests and is adamant she will find him.

Egypt has used enforced disappearances to stifle dissent since the overthrow of the Brotherhood. Amnesty International estimates that at least 1700 people have disappeared, with hundreds ending up in secret detention facilities or executed without their kin knowing.

Sisi’s crackdown is even more repressive than those under Morsi’s predecessor, deposed president Hosni Mubarak, with more than 40,000 political prisoners and hundreds of critical websites shut down in recent months.

Fairfax Media contacted the Egyptian Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General’s Office repeatedly for a comment on enforced disappearances to no avail.

No security official or political figure has been held accountable for the atrocities at Rabaa.

The Muslim Brotherhood – an Islamist group founded in Egypt in 1928 – has always had a Faustian pact with the rulers of Egypt, striking a balance between growing political influence and their grassroots social programs.

Yet, since Rabaa, the group has been decimated, forcing many to go underground or flee overseas, mostly to Turkey or Qatar.

“We are talking about the largest state massacre in modern Egyptian history that happened all in one day,” says Abdullah al-Arian, a history professor at Georgetown University in Qatar who has researched the Muslim Brotherhood extensively.

The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist group in November 2013 by Egyptian authorities and Sisi’s administration has lobbied Britain and the United States to follow suit.

After the overthrow of Morsi and the Rabaa massacre, many Brotherhood youths ended up in Syria fighting alongside jihadists or planting bombs, and even burning churches as a form of retribution .

“You have to go back to 1954 under Nasser’s rule to find the closest moment where something like this has happened. You’re not only just being outlawed but being actively pursued and hunted down by state security services,” Arian added.

Radwa Magdy, who speaks quickly, feels constantly under siege. She runs a support group for the families of the disappeared, helping them with the legal process of tracking down their relatives. In recent weeks, Magdy has become more attuned to the draconian measures of the authorities because her co-founder and friend was arrested in May as she searched for her own husband in a prison.

It is an all too familiar scenario for Magdy.

Minutes before security forces snatched her husband as the sun was setting over billowing smoke, corpses and panic in Rabaa Square, Magdy spoke to him on a borrowed mobile phone.

“He survived the whole day of the clearing of the square when the mosque was burnt and the stage demolished. He was there updating me all the time ringing from people’s mobiles and since that fateful day I haven’t heard from him,” she tells Fairfax Media.

Her husband Abdelaziz, an Arabic teacher with al-Azhar University was caught up in the violent melee.

Hailing from a small town in the Nile Delta, around 100 kilometres north of Cairo, Magdy, 35, has turned into an amateur archivist of legal documents and has become well-versed in Egyptian laws in order to find her husband.

Every couple of weeks, she takes a few days off her job as a civil servant to shuttle between the Attorney-General’s Office, the state-backed Human Rights Council and lower courts to lodge paperwork that would allow her to know where her husband is.

“I just want to get to the truth.

“We are talking about the soul of a human being. If he was killed then where is his corpse? I have been looking for four years straight, leaving no stone unturned, so where is he? He is absent.”

Schools, unis face crackdown on orphanage tourism

The Turnbull government is set to crack down on schools and universities that send their students to volunteer in overseas orphanages, amid fears that they may be contributing to a new form of modern slavery.
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Education Minister Simon Birmingham says he is appalled that well-meaning students could be unwittingly caught up in child exploitation through orphanage tourism and shonky volunteer programs.

Global demand for so-called “voluntourism” experiences is fuelling the targeted recruitment of children who are unnecessarily separated from their families to solicit profit from Western visitors.

Experts warn that it is not uncommon for recruiters to be sent into villages to convince families to give up their children for money or the promise of a better life.

Once the children are taken, parents are often encouraged not to visit their child or are told they no longer have custody rights; papers are often falsified as children are trafficked between facilities; and children are effectively exploited for profit through forced “cultural” performances for tourists, forced begging, or forced interaction with visitors.

“It disgusts me that well-meaning students seeking to help vulnerable children overseas might be unwittingly signed up for scam volunteer programs and orphanage tourism that risks further child exploitation,” Mr Birmingham told Fairfax Media.

“The national government has a leadership role to play in setting education policy but I hope that we will enjoy co-operation from states and territories, non-government school authorities and universities to ensure that due diligence occurs before groups take-off.”

Figures from child protection agency Lumos suggest that there are more than 8 million children living in residential orphanages around the world, while UNICEF estimates that four in five of them have at least one living parent.

But with many n schools and universities continuing to visit, volunteer or fundraise for such facilities – often in partnership with third-party operators – the government concedes that part of the solution involves raising awareness about the risks involved.

In a bid to tackle the issue, Mr Birmingham has asked his education department to work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on a suite of policies to put on the agenda at the next COAG Education Council with his state and territory counterparts.

The government is also considering introducing a Modern Slavery Act, modelled on a similar law in the UK, which would force large businesses to report on the measures they are taking to stamp out slavery in their supply chains.

While modern slavery generally refers to exploitative practices such as sex trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, or wage exploitation, some within Coalition ranks, such as West n senator Linda Reynolds, are pushing for orphanage tourism to be an internationally recognised form of slavery.

A 2016 mapping study by Rethink Orphanages found that almost 58 per cent of n universities advertised orphanage placements through international volunteering opportunities. Meanwhile, in Victoria alone, almost 16 per cent of public high schools and 13 per cent of private high schools fundraise or take school trips to orphanages.

However, education chiefs have defended their involvement, insisting their students are not getting caught up in child exploitation.

Overnewton Anglican Community College principal James Laussen??? said his school had sent students and staff to Zambia for years to support an orphanage in Chibobo. He said this had not only given participants the chance to understand the challenges the local community faced, but also led to funding of a medical clinic, construction of a new school, and other supportive partnerships.

Deakin University pro vice-chancellor John Molony said: “We recognise some countries offer programs that do not have strong protection measures in place for children, so we deliberately work only with organisations that have undergone Deakin’s rigorous due diligence processes to ensure we do not engage with organisations that could put children at risk.”

But Rethink Orphanages spokeswoman Leigh Mathews said there was no such thing as a “good orphanage” because the model of institutional care in itself was inherently harmful to children “no matter how high quality the care provided is”.

Tim Pope caught up in Houston floods

HAVOC: Barges are secured by tugboats in the flood-swollen Burnet Bay along the Houston Ship Channel in the southeast of the US. Picture: APA Ballarat man has been caught up in floodingthat is devastatingthe UScity of Houston.
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Tim Pope was based in the Texan metropolis for work before Tropical Storm Harvey hit this week.

“As an n that has seen fire and flood as well as being an ex-serviceman involved in disaster relief, I can say I have never witnessed anything like the current disaster in Houston,” he said.

“The easiest way to describe it would be to say most of Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat were either under flood or flood affected in some way.”

TROPICS: Ballarat man Tim Pope is staying in an apartment complex for work in flood-ravaged Texas as Tropic Storm Harvey wreaks havoc.

More than 500mm of rain has fallen over large swathes of the state, with some experts calling it a1-in-1000-year flood event.

The death toll climbed to at least 47 people by Friday afternoon.

But the community has rallied in the face of the disaster, Mr Pope said.

TROOPS: A US Border Patrol air boat moves through a neighbourhood inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, where crews have rescued more than 450 trapped people this week. Picture: AP

A group of civilian volunteers formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina called the Cajun Navy has come to the aid, towing their boats from Louisiana to help flood victims.

“On a positive note, I have witnessed some of humanities finest moments,” Mr Pope said.

“They drove three to five hours from Louisiana, even though the hurricane was heading their way.

“They knew the risks in leaving their own are but saw the need to head to Houston and help their neighbours.

“I take my hat off to them.”

The Houston apartment complex Mr Pope was staying in had yet to be affected.

But there were fears about the release of excess water within reservoirs in the coming days.

Ballarat man Tim Pope

Wallabies lose but win back respect

The Wallabies put up a gallant fight against the All Blacks, restoring some pride after the Bledisloe Cup opener. Photo: AAPYou wonderful Wallabies. You bloody beauties. No, you didn’t beat the All Blacks last Saturday night in Dunedin, but your performance was a triumph regardless. Having been blown away in the first half of the first Test in Sydney just the week before, the fact that you were able to strike back in that exhilarating manner, against the strutting and haughty Blacks in their own heartland, and be leading them with just two minutes to go, was extraordinary. It gives us all hope that you might have at last turned the corner. Congratulations. We all look forward to the third Test!
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Professional coach needed

Dunno about Brad Fittler as Origin coach. What do we actually know about him? Fabulous footballer, great bloke, seems to have done fairly well with the limited coaching opportunities he’s had. What did we know about Laurie Daley before he was appointed? Fabulous footballer, great bloke, seemed to have done fairly well with the limited coaching opportunities he’d had. Would it not make more sense to give the gig to a hard-bitten coaching professional, maybe one with a track-record of both success and intensity – the latter of which might be more manageable for his charges when exposed to it for only a couple of months of the year?

Yes, Des Hasler is a much more obvious choice to me. But whether it’s Fittler, or Hasler, or another, there will be a clean-out of the rest of the coaching and management staff. And so there bloody well should be! For here is my principal question. Who the HELL, was the genius that decided Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson should room together? Honestly, in the history of sports management, was there ever such a brain-dead decision as that? Let’s room Kieran Foran with Eddie Hayson! Put George Best on a bunk in the wine cellar. Shane Warne in the pantry, right by the store of baked beans.

You just know it is going to end badly and stink up the joint, and so it did with Dugan and Ferguson. The new coach must say to both: “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry, and please never darken our towels, or puke on our tiles, again. Goodbye.”

From bad to worse

Since TFF’s item a fortnight ago about Marc Reichler-Stillhard, the young lad with Down Syndrome from Yamba who has been happily playing as a 12th man for the Yamba u/14 side, I have been besieged by queries from readers wanting to know how he is getting on. You will recall the yarn about how, wonderfully, all teams in the Clarence Valley comp were happy to bend the rules to allow Marc to run around with Yamba as an extra, until a couple of parents from a rival club complained and North Coast Football upheld the complaint.

Your humble correspondent had a rant along the lines that this was – to use the technical expression – freaking ludicrous. Emblematic of the amount of influence I wield, I can report that the NCF not only didn’t blink, but when the Grafton City Heat team announced they would wear yellow armbands, (Marc’s favourite colour,) as a gesture of support for him, they were advised by NCF that if they did, they would be going against uniform regulations and may face disqualification.

That is, if I might use another technical expression, weird shit, from officials that just don’t get it.

Obviously an issue that goes just beyond Marc, surely we can establish a nationwide protocol whereby, in junior sport, all the major sporting codes are encouraged – most particularly if they want federal funding – to embrace polices of inclusiveness to those with disabilities.

Brissie misses out

Let’s face it. When of the eight finalists in the AFL, two are from Sydney, two are from Adelaide, one from Perth, and with just three from Melbourne, the game truly is national. And the main thing remains: none are from Brissie, which is one in the eye for those uppity Queenslanders!

Haka a big hit

The scene was at the Valley Bowls Club in the Perth suburb of The Vines, last Saturday arvo before the Bledisloe. The crowd, a mix of born locals and expats from all over, are joyous, anticipatory, eager for the match to begin as the two teams file out to the roar of the crowd – both coming through the tv, and from the room. But wait, what’s this? Even as the All Blacks form up for the mighty Haka, so too do five enormous Maori expats form up in front of the crowd, right by the tv. And, sure enough, as the All Blacks do their haka, so, too, do these five Maoris, in perfect unison. The crowd, as they say in the classics, goes off!

Grand tiger tale

With the football finals upon us, it is time to reminisce, about great grand finals past, and how funny I should say that, as this week I was sent Ian Heads’ latest book, The Great Grand Final Heist, which recalls the biggest boilover in Sydney rugby league history – when the Balmain Tigers upset the Rabbitohs in 1969. As Heads recalls, the big SCG crowd heard from the Eastern Command Military Band, enjoyed the marching girls and … umm … that was pretty much it. Ah, but, meanwhile, in the Balmain dressing room, some serious negotiations were taking place between the Tigers’ injured centre, Harold ‘Hal’ Browne, and the club secretary Kevin Humphreys, on a matter that would change rugby league forever!

“When the players were out warming up,” Browne would recall to Heads, “Kevin Humphreys called me over. ‘Hal, I want you to do something,’ he said. He was holding a tiger suit. I had one look and said, ‘No, no, shove it up your arse. I can’t do that.’ Anyhow, he talked me into it. So, I put the bloody thing on and walked out onto the field ahead of the players. They didn’t even know it was me. Out in the middle, [Souths halfback] Bob Grant ran past. Bobby and I had known each for almost our whole lives; we went to kindergarten together at North Annandale School.

“I called out to him, ‘Hey, Bobby, come here!’

“And he said, ‘Who’s in there?’

“‘Bobby,’ I said, ‘it’s me ??? Harold.’

“And he said, ‘Don’t you come near me, Harold, or I’ll upend you!’ Eventually, I headed back inside to the dressing-room. I took off the suit and nobody knew.”

Strange days indeed. Most peculiar, Mama.

Vale Mike Cockerill

TFF was very saddened to hear of the death of my long-time colleague and friend Mike Cockerill, late on Thursday evening. “Cocko,” as we all knew him had a warm heart, a great nose for a story, and was very passionate for the sport that he believed had been too long ignored by the media in – football.

While never being a mere FWT, “Fan With A Typewriter” – he broke big stories, many of them troublesome to the ruling powers of the code at the time – within the realms of Fairfax he was the driving force for the constant coverage that helped wake the sleeping giant from its decades of torpor.

Personally, he was a sardonic presence, engaging company, quick with a quip, a laugh – or a light barb to puncture whatever pomposity your correspondent was guilty of lately.

I cannot quite believe he is gone, and offer my personal condolences to his first wife Deb, his second wife Jo, and his two children, Daisy and Toby. Vale, Cocko. You were a good’un, and will be missed. What they said

Kerry O’Keefe, on a contributing factor to Bangladesh’s stunning victory over the n Test team: “John Howard could have taken wickets on that pitch.”

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart: “Laurie Daley is one of the greatest legends of Origin football, and being a Blue he should have been treated with a lot more respect than the way it was done. I thought it was disgraceful how it was done. He deserves a lot more respect …” Personally, I am not sure how such a difficult exercise can be done gracefully.

Michael Cheika on a gallant defeat to the All Blacks: “It’s all good. But the gallant loser thing is not on. We should have won that game. We know it. I am not angry. I am just very, very disappointed.”

Josh Dugan on the latest Origin story that he and Blake Ferguson, as room-mates, damaged a hotel room in the lead-up to Origin II: “There is absolutely no truth to it at all and all these allegations have done is smear more mud on myself and Fergo. Fergo and I have been made the scapegoats. That’s becoming pretty obvious.” The goats part, at least, is the most obvious of all.

Johnathan Thurston on the Maroons culture by comparison: “It’s a mutual respect between the coaching staff and the players. That’s the difference in the culture, I believe when the coaching staff give you those days off you do it in the right way and in the right manner. Some of the boys will go play golf, some of the boys go sit at a cafe or whatever. But certainly we’re not on the piss five days out from a game.” Ouch.

NZ netballer Maria Tutaia, fianc??e of Israel Folau: “We both wished each other luck but I just wished him luck, not his team – go the ABs.”

South African Springbok legend, Frik du Preez on his long-time rival on what the late, great Sir Colin Meads was like to face on the field: “Imagine the man you would least like to play against.”

Asked the difference between MMA and boxing, Conor McGregor replied: “The cheque.”

McGregor’s mother Margaret: “I’m just so proud of him I really am. Can’t wait to spend some of his money.”

Maria Sharapova after beating No.2 seed Simona Halep in the first round of the US Open on what she took away from it: “Behind all these Swarovski crystals and little black dresses, this girl has a lot of grit and she’s not going anywhere.”

So ran the headline in Rugby News on Saturday, above a piece on club rugby by Brett Papworth, distributed among the faithful at the Shute Shield Grand Final: “Rugby’s heart beats strong.” And so it does, as the record-breaking crowd would attest to. Brett’s heart, however, not so much. The following evening he was rushed to the hospital for a heart operation. He is now, mercifully, on the mend, after two operations.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Horse trainer Peter Moody on egalitarian in his entertaining autobiography, A Long Way From Wyandra: “In England there were all these strappers and stablehands calling me ‘guv’nor’ and ‘sir’. Someone asked me if stablehands in did that and I nearly fell over. ‘Call you “sir”?!’ I said. ‘They’d more likely call you a c**t than sir!”

Jason Gillespie recalls his own double ton against Bangladesh: “Michael Clarke was not out at the other end, and was very happy for me. As we walked off (we declared) I decided to give the young Pup a piece of advice after our embrace. ‘Son, that’s how you score a Test double ton.'”

Cronulla five-eighth James Maloney, on the NRL salary cap being so much lower than the players want: “You wonder where the money’s going. There’s no one accountable for the spending. The players are your most important commodity. Without them, there is no game. Everyone who works around it are just accessories.” Team of the week

Bangladesh. Beat in the first Test, despite David Warner tearing off a great ton in the second innings.

Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. The two most extravagantly gifted players of their generation, both eliminated in the first round of the US Open.

Warringah. First Shute Shield since 2005 in a touchingly emotional victory for the Rats following the passing of Lachlan Ward. The Grand Final itself, at North Sydney Oval, was a triumph of grass-roots rugby.

Daria Gavrilova. The n tennis player won the Connecticut Open.

Hawthorn. I give up – how did they manage to beat the Swans twice and lose to the Suns twice in the same season?

Wallsend South Public School. Won the Paul Kelly Cup girls final after defeating the Holy Family Primary School of Kelso in the final at the SCG.

Clovelly Eagles Junior Rugby Union Club. In the heartland of the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Swans, this tiny club has had four players – Finn Wright, Ben Donaldson, Marco Bell and Will Harrison – selected in the n Schoolboys Rugby Union team to play NZ Schoolboys and Fiji Schoolboys in October.

Nathan Buckley. After inheriting a Collingwood side that won the grand final – and taking them to 4th, 6th, 11th, 12th, 12th, 13th since – has been reappointed for another two years as coach of Collingwood.

Cameron Smith. Equals most NRL games record with his 355th game when the Storm host Canberra Raiders in Melbourne.

RIP Dean Mercer. 1969-2017. The younger of the likeable brothers from the ‘Gong who were dominating the Ironman titles three decades ago, died at Gold Coast University Hospital on Monday morning after being rushed there by ambulance after a seeming heart attack at the wheel of his car. The Herald sends its deepest condolences to his wife Reen, and four young sons.

RIP Mike Cockerill. 20 November 1960 – 31 August 2017. Beloved sports journalist for Fairfax and Fox Sports, passed away on Thursday, after a battle with cancer. (See tribute.)

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

Artist Colleen Green detained and deported by Chinan immigration

American indie artist Colleen Green It used to be that visiting musicians were buttonholed as soon as they got off the plane by eager reporters keen to know what they thought of . These days, they just get thrown in the slammer.
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That, at least, was the fate that befell American indie artist Colleen Green, whose n tour has been called off following her detention and deportation by immigration and border control officers in Melbourne.

Green had been scheduled to kick off her short n tour in Byron Bay on Friday night, with gigs in Brisbane, Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne to follow, before winding up the tour with a show in Ballarat on Sunday September 10. Alas, it was not to be.

Green posted about her experience on Facebook on Friday afternoon, describing the past few days since leaving Los Angeles as “emotional, exhausting, and tumultuous”.

She arrived in Melbourne this week, via Auckland, with no guitar but a few pieces of merchandise in her luggage. That was enough to make the immigration officials suspicious.

“The promoter of my n tour told me he had secured a visa for me and to just say I’m visiting friends and everything would be fine,” Green writes. “I really had no reason to doubt this as I have travelled all over the world to perform and have done so many times under the pretence of ‘tourism’ with no incident.”

However, “after a very thorough search of my bags, the officers decided I was lying. They took my iPad, phone and passport. They looked up my tour dates on the internet … they took me to an interrogation room where I waited, was interrogated on tape, waited more, was interrogated more, waited more, and finally was told that my visa was being cancelled.”

About seven hours after stepping off the plane, Green was driven to an immigration detention centre (presumably in Maribyrnong, though she says only that it was about a half-hour journey), where she was photographed and fingerprinted. She has no complaints about her treatment, saying “the officers at the centre were actually really nice and fun”.

The following morning, she was taken back to the airport for deportation.

Being escorted by half a dozen immigration officers determined to make sure she left the country wasn’t all bad, Green admits, “because I didn’t have to wait in any of those wack ass lines, and I also got to board the plane first”.

But it wasn’t all good, either. “I felt like a totally busted criminal dummy, when all I had been trying to do was play music and see a new country.”

A spokesman for Bone Soupsaid the small promoter was “deeply saddened” by this situation, and said refunds were being automatically sent to all ticket buyers.

He added that Bone Soup was “deeply embarrassed” that it had failed to arrange the appropriate documentation in time.

“Letting down an artist and having her experience what she has, as well as letting her fans down, is a terrible thing,” he said.

“This has been a harsh lesson and we have made a mistake that we will never make again. We are doing our best to allay the situation and reschedule a tour for the future.”

-The Age