Egypt is currently experiencing a serious escalation of repression. The interim government of Adly Mahmoud Mansour, backed by the military, passed an anti-terrorism Act in April 2014.
It is part of a series of measures allegedly against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), but used against all political opposition to the country’s most recent governments, regardless of links to the army or the Islamic group. Most affected by the law have been the trade union movement and groups that have emerged during the first Tahrir revolution in January 2011, as well as the HM.
To approve the laws the government has relied on mass popular rejection of the Islamist group that ruled the country disastrously with Morsi, applying liberal and Islamic measures. However, the Act deems any activist a “terrorist” subject to imprisonment simply for holding a banner in the street. In addition to the anti-terrorism Act there is an anti-protest Act that bans any demonstration unauthorized by the security forces, from gatherings of ten persons on. The famous sit-ins are also prohibited, and over seven different forms of permissions are needed to organize a demonstration.
In recent years more than 40,000 people have been arrested and hundreds sentenced to death, always with the excuse of belonging to the MB. There is also a strong repression of union activists who attempt to organize any struggle for better working conditions or against rising inflation. Egyptian authorities recently banned the executive director of the NGO Human Rights Watch from entering the country when he was on his way to present a report on the Rabaa massacre; security forces dispersed an MB camp and killed more than 800 people in the square of the same name, in August 2013.
One of the most affected organizations by the anti-terrorist legislation is the well-known April 6 Movement, created in 2008 when a general strike was called in Mahalla to protest against Egyptian workers’ deteriorating living conditions. In recent months April 6’s website has been blocked, its headquarters closed and many of its members jailed for breaching the new legislation. The Movement campaigns at the aim of pushing the government to reconsider the sentences charged against activists so far.
One of the Tahrir revolution’s key demands was the abolition of the emergency law that has been in force in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak became president in 198. The law allowed authorities to detain people without being charged or sent to trial. In 2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who assumed command of the country after Mubarak’s resignation, suspended it temporarily. This constituted a partial victory for the revolution, since activists called for its total abolition. Hosni Mubarak recently benefited from this measure and was released from prison (a military hospital) due to not having been formally sentenced since then. His trial has repeatedly been postponed as an excuse to get him out of jail, while some independent activists have spent months in prison without trial.
We demand the release of all political prisoners by the Egyptian authorities, many of whom do not even have an official verdict against them. The right to protest is essential in any society that calls itself democratic. We condemn the repression of trade unions, leftist political parties or social movements fighting in Egypt against military despotism.
Please send email of support to Kareem Taha, from the April 6 Movement: [email protected]
Some of the political prisoners:
Ahmed Maher – Founder of the April 6 Movement
Arrested on 11/23/2013 for organizing a peaceful demonstration near the Parliament. On 26/11/2013 he was sentenced by the court of Aladin to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds.
Ahmed Jamal Ziadah
Arrested on 12/22/2013 in the proximities of the Azhar University for covering a demonstration. Still to be tried by a criminal court. Journalist at Yaqueen News Agency.
Arrested on 01/24/2014 and yet to be tried. Works for an online company.
Alah Abdel Fath and Mohamad Nubi
Arrested on 06/11/2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds for calling and organizing a demonstration.
Sanaa Abdel Fatah and Yara Salam
Arrested on 06/21/2014. The judge has postponed the trial for three months to September 2014 also for organizing a demonstration and violating the anti-protest Act. She is the sister of Allah Abdel Fatah.
Arrested on 04/12/2014 in Alexandria. Sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds for organizing a demonstration in memory of the martyr Khaled Said. The sentence has recently been reduced to six months. An international campaign for her release has been organized.
Arrested on 22/01/2014 for organizing a demonstration. Trial postponed for 45 days. Law student at the University of Mansoura.
Official spokesperson of the April 6 Movement. Sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds for breaching the anti-protest law.
Arrested over 10 months ago for not respecting the anti-protest law. Student of Literature at the Cairo University.