November 28, 2014
Reprieve | June 30, 2015
Egypt’s President, General Abdel-Fattah al Sisi, has said he wants to change the law to allow for quicker executions in the country.
In remarks at the funeral of Egypt’s Attorney-General Hisham Barakat, who died after a car bomb attack on Monday, Sisi is reported to have said: “The arm of justice is chained by the law. We’re not going to wait for this. We’re going to amend the law to allow us to implement justice as soon as possible”. He added: “If there is a death sentence, a death sentence shall be enforced.”
The decision to expedite executions for those sentenced to death raises fears for scores of people arrested in the military’s 2013 breakup of protests. Many face possible death sentences in mass trials that fail to meet international standards; including juveniles such as Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa, who is being tried as an adult alongside 493 other people. Ibrahim, a student from Dublin, was 17 and visiting family in Cairo when he was arrested in August 2013. Now 19, he has reported torture and mistreatment throughout his two years of pre-trial detention.
Commenting, Maya Foa, the head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “In Egypt we’ve already seen scores of innocent people – including juveniles such as Ibrahim Halawa – arrested for the mere ‘crime’ of being at or near a protest. Thousands still face torture, ‘mass trials’, and the threat of hanging. It is sickening that President Sisi now wants to dismantle what little checks remain to prevent wrongful executions. This wave of repression has done nothing to restore law and order in Egypt – Sisi must urgently change course, before any more lives are lost.”
The families of detained journalist Mohamed Saber al-Battawy and photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, started a sit-in on Sunday at the Journalists Syndicate until the release of their relatives.
Battawy’s wife, Rofaida al-Safty, told Mada Masr, “We don’t know why my husband has been detained, we and his lawyers haven’t seen him yet, despite the fact that he has been prosecuted and received a 15-day detention order pending investigation.”
Safty explained that on June 17 at dawn, “a masked force broke into the house and confiscated personal documents, books and Battawy’s hard drive.” Safty wasn’t home when this happened, but Battawy’s father was with him and recounted the details to her.
When Battawy’s father asked about where his son would be taken, he was told “Toukh Police Station,” but Safty didn’t find him there or at any other station within Qalyubiya Governorate, and his arrest was denied by those she asked.
“We called around, notified the syndicate, as well as state-owned Akhbar al-Youm media oulet, and filed a complaint with the general prosecutor and interior minister. We even called the human rights division within the ministry, who asked us to call again, but when we did, their phone was off, Safty recounted.
The Journalists Syndicate filed a complaint with the prosecutor on Monday last week, demanding the disclosure of Battawy’s place of detention and the charges brought against him. The syndicate added in a statement released on the same day that it had communicated with the interior ministry, but received no adequate answer.
On Tuesday, the state-owned Middle East News Agency published an article quoting security sources saying Battawy is in Tora prison and has been accused of “being a member of an illegal group.” Battawy’s defense team headed to the prosecution to verify this information, but no accusations were listed.
Safty reportedly awaits her husband’s transfer to the prosecution again next Wednesday.
As for Shawkan’s family, his mother said he was arrested in August 2013 while covering the Rabea sit-in, along with two foreign photographers who were later released. Shawkan was taken to Cairo Stadium and then transferred to the prosecution, who charged him with murder, attempted murder, being part of an armed group, assaulting security forces, and the possession of a firearm, she added.
Shawkan hasn’t been released or transferred to court and has been detained for 22 months.
Ahmed Abdel Naby, Shawkan’s lawyers, previously told Mada Masr, “There is no evidence against Shawkan and upon arrest he was only carrying a camera. We have submitted all the necessary documents, stating that the photojournalist was working when he was arrested, in addition to the testimony of both his foreign colleagues before their release, but obviously all this is insufficient for his acquittal.”
Abdel Naby said Shawkan was beaten at Cairo Stadium and was then taken to Abu Zaabal Prison, then finally to Tora Prison. Shawkan’s health condition has deteriorated in detention as he has Hepatitis C.
A letter from Shawkan to Yehia al-Qalash, head of the Journalists Syndicate, was published a couple of days ago saying, “All that matters now is the release of all journalists, so that they don’t die a slow death like me. I am afraid that my colleagues will end up like me … thin, pale, with dark circles under the eyes, a heart with an irregular pace and a featureless face that has lost all hope that one day I will be free and will be able to hug my mother again.”
Shawkan added, “I have explained how I die each day, so that you know the suffering of my colleagues in detention. Therefore, I do not ask for my release, but theirs, and I hope that one day they will be free, whether I am alive inside prison or dead.”
Qalash met with Shawkan’s family upon their arrival at the syndicate on Sunday and told reporters he is communicating with the presidency concerning Shawkan’s case.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) issued a report on Saturday on the violations of freedom of the press during the first half of 2015. According to the report, 18 journalists were arrested, 14 others were illegally detained, 34 were physically assaulted, eight were verbally abused, and 85 were prohibited from future coverage. AFTE reported one case in which a media institution was raided. AFTE added that five journalists were detained for more than 500 days and five others for more than 100 days.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement on June 25 saying that Egyptian authorities jailed 18 journalists in 2015 — the highest number of detentions since 1990.
CPJ sent a “delegation to Egypt in February, where it met with the general prosecutor and the minister of transitional justice, who said that no journalists have been detained because of their work. However, the committee stated that Sisi’s government used national security as a way to control human rights and freedom of the press.”
The report added, “The Egyptian government is randomly accusing journalists and activists of being members of a banned group. The majority of detained journalists have been accused of being Muslim Brotherhood affiliated.
* Translated by Mada Masr
A Cairo-based rights group has revealed that as many as 269 people have lost their lives in Egyptian custody since the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected president.
The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) disclosed the data in a report issued on Friday to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
The group said 130 of the fatalities, which comprised 68 political detainees and 62 criminal defendants, had occurred under Egypt’s military-appointed interim President Adly Mansour, who was trusted with the country’s leadership after Morsi’s overthrow from July 3, 2013, to early June 2014.
The report also noted that among the deaths, 143 had occurred due to systematic medical negligence and 32 others as a result of torture practices.
The ECRF also documented 139 deaths in Egyptian prisons and detention facilities since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ascended to power last year.
Morsi, affiliated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, was elected as the country’s president in 2012 but was ousted only a year later in a military coup led by the then army chief, Sisi.
Sisi, who had also served as military chief under former dictator Hosni Mubarak, later campaigned for and won the country’s presidency in controversial elections in June 2014.
The Sisi administration has been cracking down on any opposition since Morsi was ousted, banning the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Thousands of the supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement have also been jailed, with many of them, including Morsi, receiving death penalties in mass trials.
The head of the religious sector at Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments, Mohamed Abdel Razek, has announced that the ministry will burn all books and exegeses written by Muslim Brotherhood scholars.
In a press statement released on Monday, Abdel-Razek said that his ministry plans to burn the “poisonous books” written by Sheikh Hassan Al-Banna, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Sayyid Qutb and other Brotherhood leaders, as well as books written by other Islamist groups.
The Minister of Endowments Mohammad Mukhtar Juma on Saturday issued a decision to examine and conduct an inventory of the books at religious and public libraries across the country so as to “cleanse” them of books considered to contradict the tolerant nature of Islam.
CAIRO – The Egyptian military has constructed a trench along the border of Rafah to prevent smugglers from operating in the area, the army said.
The trench is 20 meters deep and 10 meters wide and is located two kilometers from the border with Gaza outside of Rafah city.
The new infrastructure — part of a larger buffer zone being constructed in the area — is intended to prevent smugglers from driving their vehicles to the opening of tunnels along the border.
A military official said that the army plans to expand the trench and install watchtowers along its length.
Work on the buffer zone on the Egyptian side began in February 2014, but was at the time slated to extend only about 300 meters in urban areas and 500 meters in rural areas.
After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, however, the military stepped up a campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack.
Hamas, which denies Egyptian accusations, has suffered poor relations with the Egyptian government ever since the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood, with whom they were closely allied, was thrown out of power in July 2013.
Deteriorating relations between Egypt and Hamas come at a high price to Gaza’s 1.8 million residents for whom the smuggling tunnels have served as a lifeline to the outside world since Israel imposed a crippling siege on the coastal enclave in 2007.
The plane carrying the representatives of Yemen’s political factions, including those of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, to attend the UN-brokered talks in the Swiss city of Geneva has not arrived in its destination yet due to Egypt’s refusal to allow them to enter its airspace.
The delegation left the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Sunday afternoon, but was forced to have a long stop in Djibouti.
Sources close to Ansarullah delegation currently in Djibuti said that Saudi Arabia seeks to manipulate the talks in Geneva as Riyadh creates obstacles to the presence of Yemeni negotiators in the meeting.
Egyptian authorities have reportedly not allowed the plane to cross the country’s airspace due to the Saudi pressure.
According to reports, two other Houthi representatives were also expected to arrive in Geneva from Oman.
The negotiations aimed at ending the deadly conflict in the Arab country were supposed to start in Geneva early on Monday with Yemeni political factions and former regime officials in attendance.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will also be present in the talks, is expected to meet with representatives of Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi prior to holding talks with the Ansarullah delegation.
UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi on Sunday called on all parties involved in Yemen’s conflict to observe a renewed “humanitarian pause” due to Saudi Arabia’s incessant airstrikes on the impoverished country.
Sources have confirmed Hadi will attend the meeting.
The talks brokered by UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed aim to secure a ceasefire, and accelerate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-racked Yemeni people.
The UN envoy said that the talks will be the beginning of “preliminary inclusive consultations” to find a solution to the conflict that has claimed more than 2,500 lives and triggered a “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis.
In a statement issued early July, the UN urged all Yemeni parties “to engage in these consultations in good faith and without preconditions in the interest of all Yemeni people.”
However, the meeting, which was initially scheduled for May 28, was delayed after Hadi refused to attend the negotiations.
The Un-brokered peace talks come as Saudi Arabia continues its military aggression against the Yemeni people.
Riyadh launched a military campaign against its impoverished neighbor on March 26 – without a UN mandate- in an attempt to undermine the Houthi revolutionaries and restore power to Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia.
Reprieve | June 13, 2015
An Irish teenager facing a death sentence in Egypt has written a letter detailing his ill-treatment in prison, where he has been awaiting trial for nearly two years.
Ibrahim Halawa, a student from Dublin, was 17 and on holiday in Egypt when he was arrested, along hundreds of others during the military’s breakup of protests. Now 19, he faces a death sentence if convicted, and has reported mistreatment throughout his detention in Egypt, where police torture is common. He is being tried as an adult – in contravention of Egypt’s Child Law and international law – alongside 493 others, in controversial mass proceedings that have been repeatedly postponed over the past year (most recently on June 3rd).
A recent letter written by Ibrahim to his family from Wadi Natrun prison, where he awaits trial, details how:
- He is being held in a room with a glued-shut window and no access to the sun, and wakes up “every morning to the voices of other prisoners screaming from the hitting and I can hear the beatings”
- Prison official Selim Shakawy, or “the Prosecutor”, hits him if he speaks out and threatens him, including with removal to the “torture room”
- The Prosecutor has told him that the Irish government cannot help him, saying: “Let the embassy go to the minister of interior, they can’t do anything… a passport isn’t going to save me from him… he kept threatening me & said life is just going to get tougher”
- Ibrahim has decided to go on hunger strike, in protest at the repeated delays in his trial and his mistreatment
The letter marks the first time Ibrahim has been able to publicly detail his treatment since he was moved to Wadi Natrun from Tora prison, in Cairo – where he shared a cell with journalists Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy.
Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said: “This heartbreaking letter from Ibrahim demonstrates the complete injustice of his ordeal, and that of the hundreds detained alongside him. These are people whose only ‘crime’ was to attend a protest – and yet, two years later, they are languishing in hellish conditions, enduring terrible mistreatment, and awaiting a Kafkaesque mass trial. The Irish government and the international community must make it clear to the Sisi government that this cannot continue. Justice must be done, and Ibrahim must be returned home to his family in Dublin without delay.”
More than 200 members of the press gathered at the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Wednesday, chanting for the “32 detained journalists and hundreds dismissed from their job” as they commemorated Egyptian Journalist Day.
The syndicate’s freedoms committee had sent a general invitation to protest on June 10 to denounce the recent wave of arrests, arbitrary dismissals and low wages faced by local journalists. Several websites for both privately and state-owned newspapers, including Ahram Gate, Bedaya, Al-Mal and Al-Fagr, published statements supporting the demonstration.
Leading up to the protest, the syndicate also filed 13 complaints with the prosecutor general demanding the immediate release of all journalists currently detained pending investigations, and detailing alleged acts of torture inflicted upon those journalists while in custody.
Among the protesters was Ibrahim Aref, editor-in-chief of the privately owned Al-Bayan newspaper. Aref and a colleague were recently prosecuted on charges of publishing false information regarding the assassination of six prosecutors, news which the newspaper had subsequently amended and apologized for.
Recounting his arrest to Mada Masr, Aref says that police personnel broke into his office and took him to the prosecutor’s headquarters in the Fifth Settlement district of New Cairo. He claims the building was under construction at the time and had no running water. The next day, he was taken to the High Court, where he was left in a defendant’s dock for nine hours without food or water before being released later that night on bail, he says.
“According to the law, everything that happened was illegal,” Aref argues. “Journalists cannot be detained for cases related to publishing. I went through the experience and got out of prison, but other colleagues are still detained, and their children are cheering with us today.”
Aya Allam, wife of detained journalist Hassan al-Qabanni, was also at Wednesday’s protest.
She spoke to Mada of her husband’s arrest, saying, “On January 22, police broke into my home and arrested my husband. He disappeared for three days, and we filed a report with the general prosecutor about the incident. It turned out he was being kept at the National Security headquarters in Sheikh Zayed.”
When Qabbani was finally called before the prosecutor, he bore injuries that suggested he was beaten, electrocuted and tortured, Allam says.
She claims that her husband never faced specific charges. Instead, during interrogations he was asked about his opinion of the January 25, 2011 revolution, the events of June 30, 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Armed Forces. Later, his family learned that he was accused of spying for the Norwegian government, in the same case as Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Ali Bishr, according to Allam.
Qabbani is currently being detained in dire conditions at the Aqrab prison, Allam alleges. She adds that he is restricted to his cell, isn’t allowed access to newspapers or books and only receives one meal per day.
Furthermore, his wife claims that though the prison management has been issuing visiting permits to the families of the detainees at the prison, when they arrive, they are not permitted to enter. Qabbani hasn’t received visitors since February, Allam says, accusing prison staff of tampering with the visitor records.
Reda Gamal’s husband, journalist Reda al-Darawy, has been detained for close to two years, she says.
“After July 3  and the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, my husband travelled to Amman to work at Yarmouk satellite channel, then to Lebanon to work at Al-Quds Channel. He came back on August 6 and was a guest speaker on Tamer Amin’s show. On his way out of Media Production City, he was arrested.”
Darawy has been accused of spying for Hamas and belonging to a banned group — the Muslim Brotherhood was declared an illegal organization at the end of 2013. He was later added as a defendant in the espionage case alongside former President Mohamed Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders, Gamal says.
Gamal adds that her husband was accused of illegally entering the Gaza Strip through the tunnels from Sinai, but refutes those charges.
“My husband visited the Strip twice for work, and the stamps on his passport prove it,” she argues.
His first visit was in July 2011, she says, when he conducted interviews with leaders of various political factions in Palestine for a piece that was published in the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper. Then under the Morsi administration, Darawy visited Gaza again to cover the truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, Gamal says.
Darawy has now been in custody for 22 months. A verdict is anticipated in his case on June 16.
Darawy’s case bears some similarities with that of journalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, who is also currently in detention pending investigations. His brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, says that Shawkan was covering the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in after Morsi’s ouster in 2013, and had obtained permission to shoot photographs there from security forces in the area.
However, Shawkan was then arrested alongside a number of foreign journalists by men dressed in civilian clothing, Abou Zeid says. The foreign photojournalist were released, but Shawkan has remained in detention ever since.
Photographer Ahmed Gamal Zeyada, who was recently acquitted in a case related to violence at Al-Azhar University, says that his arrest was similar to Shawkan’s. Zeyada says he hadn’t met Shawkan prior to his arrest, but began exchanging letters with him following a march that was organized to draw attention to both of their arrests by their fellow photojournalists.
“After a while we became close friends, though we never met,” says Zeyada.
The arbitrary firing of journalists was also a core issue discussed by the protesters. Sahar Abdel Ghani, a journalist at the privately owned newspaper Al-Alam Al-Youm, says that she and 30 of her colleagues were fired due to budget cuts.
“We have been working for the newspaper for 13 years, and have put up with all the financial challenges throughout,” she says.
But despite the fact that she was fired under the pretext of budgetary constraints, Abdel Ghani claims that “the newspaper recently launched a new website and hired new reporters,” suggesting that the business wasn’t in such dire straits after all. She says she and her colleagues filed a wrongful termination complaint with the labor bureau, but nothing happened.
The Journalists Syndicate is currently in negotiations with the newspaper to either rehire the fired journalists or compensate them, she adds.
At the protest, around 150 journalists — most of them working for newspapers affiliated with political parties that have recently been shut down — declared they would go on strike.
Iman Ouf, a journalist for the privately owned Al-Mal newspaper and a member of the syndicate’s freedom committee that organized the demonstration, felt that Wednesday’s protest represented a good step toward solving the problem of journalists working in Egypt today.
“The number of participants wasn’t big, but it is a good start. Today is better than how things were before,” Ouf says.
Next, the syndicate plans to launch a campaign for a fair labor law, a unified contract for all journalists and an industry-wide a minimum wage, in addition to providing compensation for the families of the detained journalists, she continues.
The journalist adds that the regional and international support for the protest was a good indicator that journalists are capable of defending themselves. The protest received letters of support from the Arab Journalists Union and the International Union for Journalists, Ouf says, in addition to journalists syndicates in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, the European Union and the United States, and finally, from local political parties.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Thursday cancelled a trip to South Africa to attend the African Union Summit after a group of lawyers filed an official legal request for his arrest.
The Egyptian president was supposed to arrive Friday in Johannesburg to lead his country’s delegation in the African summit titled “Enabling African Women,” which will take place on June 14 and 15.
“We believe Al-Sisi committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for the horrendous killings that resulted from the (2013) coup in Egypt,” attorney Yousha Tayoub, a member of the South African Muslim Lawyers Association, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
A well-informed African diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency that Al-Sisi would not participate. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Egypt had officially informed the host country that Al-Sisi would not participate in the summit, and that PM Ibrahim Mehleb will lead the Egyptian delegation instead.
A former military commander, Al-Sisi is widely seen as the architect of the 2013 coup against President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.
At the time, the South African government had vocally criticized Morsi’s ouster and the subsequent crackdown on political dissent waged by Egypt’s army-backed government.
There has been an increase in the death rates in detention centres since the military coup in Egypt, a new report has revealed.
In a report entitled “The Official Cemeteries: Extrajudicial Killings in Egyptian detention centres from June 30, 2013 to June 1, 2015“, the monitoring and documentation department of the Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms stated that the last two years witnessed a major shift in the death rates in the various detention centres in terms of the number of deaths and the cases of death by torture since President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi came to power.
The report noted that the Egyptian security authorities adopted a systematic policy of arbitrarily arresting those opposed to the military government in Egypt. Since 30 June 2013, Egypt has adopted this policy in an unprecedented manner. This systematic policy of arrests has led to the detention of large numbers of people in various detention centres, which can no longer accommodate them due to their large numbers. It has also led the government to use arrests as an important means of oppressing the opposition to the military government in Egypt.
With the increasing number of detainees and the lack of any health care or medical attention, the prisons, detention centres, and questioning centres have become a place for the spiritual and psychological murder of the detainees.
The department also explained that the results of the monitoring and documentation of extrajudicial killings committed inside the various places of detention over the past two years, from 30 June 2013 to early June 2015 are as follows:
- Total number of individuals killed in detention centres: 269
- Number of politicians killed in detention centres: 92
- Number of criminals killed in detention centres: 177
- Where these 269 individuals died:
- Number of individuals killed in prisons: 102
- Number of individuals killed in police stations: 150
- Number of individuals killed in courts and prosecutors’ offices: 6
- Number of individuals killed in military prisons: 2
- Number of individuals killed in care homes: 2
- Number of individuals killed in undisclosed places of detention: 7
- Where these 269 individuals died:
- Number of individuals killed in detention centres during Adly Mansour’s term: 130
- Number of individuals killed in detention centres since the beginning of Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi’s term: 139
- Number of individuals killed in detention centres since during Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim’s term after June 30, 2013 until his retirement: 231
- Number of individuals killed in detention centres since the beginning of Magdy Abdel Ghaffar’s term: 38
The monitoring and documentation department also added that the number of killings and deaths during the first year of Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi’s presidency has undoubtedly demonstrated his continued political support of slowly killing prisoners and detainees inside detention centres, as the first year of his term resulted in the following:
- Number of deaths inside detention centres during Sisi’ term: 139
- Number of politician who died in detention centres: 31
- Number of criminal deaths inside detention centres: 108
- Where these 139 individuals died:
- Number of deaths inside prisons: 39
- Number of deaths in police stations: 96
- Number of deaths in courts and prosecutors’ offices: 2
- Number of deaths in military prisons: 0
- Number of deaths in care homes: 1
- Number of deaths in undisclosed places of detention: 1
The department also confirmed that the prisons and detention centres have turned into centres of gradually draining and exhausting individuals both physically and psychologically. The military government in Egypt wants to turn the detainees opposed to the military government in Egypt into remains of creatures that no longer represent humans; creatures depleted of all signs of humanity that become a burden on themselves and society, the report said.
The prisons and detention centres in Egypt have been used by the military government to provide the appropriate conditions conducive to achieving the goal of dehumanising the opposition.
The Egyptian Observatory’s monitoring and documentation department stressed that it prepared this report and collected the data in order to expose this heinous crime and the abnormal death of prisoners and detainees inside the various detention centres.
At least 163 people have been forcibly disappeared and illegally detained by security forces in the past two months alone, according to a document published by the Freedom for the Brave campaign on its official Facebook page.
According to the group’s breakdown of these cases, 66 activists have gone missing in this time period, and their whereabouts are still unknown. Another 64 people were only located after they had been detained without charges or interrogation for more than 24 hours in an undisclosed location, in violation of the Constitution. Another 31 cases cited in the document have not yet been verified by the group.
At least two of the people included in the list were allegedly killed by security forces, including Ain Shams University student Ismail Atito and Sinai resident Sabry al-Ghoul.
The majority of these incidents occurred in Cairo, where 60 cases of forced disappearances have been reported, followed by Kafr al-Sheikh with 31, 16 in Giza and 13 in Daqahlia. Suez, Matrouh, the Red Sea, the New Valley and South Sinai were the only governorates that did not report any such cases in the past two months.
Freedom for the Brave said that the majority of the information compiled to create this database was gathered from the group’s own research on certain cases it has been directly following, as well as from documentation compiled by other rights organizations and complaints circulated on social media by the families of the disappeared. The campaign also published the tracking numbers of the official complaints that families have submitted to the prosecution.
“Activists have been forcibly disappeared since July 2013, but this number is now increasing at an unprecedented rate,” Freedom for the Brave member Tarek Mohamed told Mada Masr.
He believes that the current crackdown is a general “continuation of the regime’s policies against any movement associated with the January 25 revolution,” but also a specific reaction against the April 6 Youth Movement’s call for a general strike on June 11.
But the crackdown is baseless, Mohamed argued. The call to strike does not violate any law, as it is a “call for the people to stay home in protest against deteriorating economic conditions and ongoing arrests,” he claimed.
Several of the people who have been illegally detained and held in undisclosed locations were later charged with belonging to the April 6 Youth Movement, which the courts ruled an illegal organization last year, Mohamed pointed out. They also faced accusations of coordinating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and calling for the June 11 strike.
“Those accusations were leveled against activist Dalia Radwan, the only one released on bail, and a member of the Helwan University Student Union, Ahmed Khattab, who appeared in front of the prosecution bearing signs of torture,” Mohamed said. “Nagwa Ezz and Ahmed al-Zayyat faced similar charges”.
However, Mohamed added that the prosecution has since reversed its decision to release Radwan and remanded her into custody for 15 days pending investigations.
Mohamed also spoke of photojournalist Israa al-Taweel, Sohaib Mohamed and Amr Mohamed, who were illegally detained on June 1. Their families and lawyers have still not been able to obtain any information on their whereabouts.
“We fear that those who disappeared face the same fate of Atito,” Mohamed said, referring to the Ain Shams University student who disappeared on May 19 after he was allegedly summoned out of an exam room by a security officer and another unidentified man. He was found dead the following day. The Interior Ministry released a statement claiming the student was involved in the assassination of a police officer, and had been killed in an exchange of fire with police forces when he tried to evade arrest.
The ministry has denied all reports of forced disappearances. One source from the ministry told the privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk that “we are in a state of law and we cannot detain citizens in the streets unlawfully. Whoever is arrested faces accusations according to judicial orders.”
Translated by Mai Shams El-Din