This is why Egypt’s #DetainNoMore should be trending throughout Africa
Too often, many activists and journalists have been targeted, threatened and jailed for their role in defending and promoting civil and economic rights through their speeches, publications and other actions in many African countries.
On January 25 2015, EuroMed Rights in conjunction with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) called out to Egyptians and the general public for solidarity. They are enjoining people to speak for these detained activists through petitions and social media using the hashtag #DetainNoMore. The use of social media to speak against human rights abuse in the country has been effective in the past. For example, at the outset of the Arab Spring, to show disapproval for Hosni Mubarak’s government, a Facebook group helped to organize over 100,000 people for the protest.
Following the Arab spring, which led to the resignation of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak (who ruled Egypt for 30 years), the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected in 2014. During a speech he gave the following month, the president reportedly said – “during my meeting with youth and media people we have talked about the detained young people, I have urged them to visit prisons and outline lists of the arrested young people so that we can release them in coordination with the Interior Ministry.”
However, since this speech, the imprisoned activists have remained incarcerated. Here are six activists serving time in Egyptian prisons:
Hussein is a 19-year old student who was arrested and jailed over a year ago for wearing an anti-torture t-shirt and scarf.
He was accused of “breaking the protest law” and although he has not been tried for any offences, he has been tortured and forced into signing a confession in detention.
Hegazy is the founder of Belady, an organization founded in 2013 to help street children. She was accused of using the children to disturb the “peace in protests”. Arrested alongside her husband and two others in 2014, she has reportedly been beaten and threatened with death.
Alaa Abd El Fattah
El-Fattah was the major force behind the Arab Spring on social media. Due to his continuous struggle for change in Egypt, he has been imprisoned different times by several governments.
He is currently serving a five-year jail term after a trial that was widely proclaimed “unfair” by international observers.
Said is a surgeon and a poet. He provided emergency medical care to citizens attacked by security forces during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. He was arrested on November 19, 2015 and in December, he was sentenced to a two-year prison term for “participating in a protest without a permit.”
Al-Iskandarani is a researcher and a journalist who has published articles on conditions faced by the civilians of North-Sinai, where a counter-insurgency organized by the Egyptian military is ongoing.
He was detained in November, 2015 for “spreading the ideas of the Muslim brotherhood and intentionally spreading false information.”
Dr. Taher Mokhtar
Mokhtar is a health activist. He is a vocal campaigner for prisoners’ right to adequate medical treatment in places of detention in Egypt and is also noted for defending worker, minority and refugee rights.
He was arrested with two other people on January 14, 2016 and interrogated for nine hours without a lawyer. They were later accused of the “possession of publications that call for the overthrow of the regime.”
Their detention was renewed on January 17, 2016 for 15 days pending investigation.
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