The number of nonviolent activists in Egyptian prisons is in thousands. However the mainstream media of the “free world” chose to ignore them and focus on a couple of International journalists (who also deserve solidarity). But why is such conditional support?
This article will not count them all, however it is an attempt to raise awareness to the current state of justice and human rights in Egypt and encourage only those who are sincere and genuinely supportive of human rights, to think about the double standards by the media and the world governments.
Al Mansoura ladies
Today, the 8th of February, is the date of their trial over trumped-up charges. They have been in jail since Nov 2013. Unfortunately they don’t match some people’s conditional solidarity policy. In a press release by Amnesty International dated 7 February 2014, Egypt is demanded to release women protesters facing trumped-up charges.
“The detention of the three women at Mansoura University is just another example of the mounting crackdown on protesters and free expression in Egypt. They are facing fabricated and illegitimate charges simply for exercising their rights. The authorities have displayed a brazen disregard for the right to peaceful assembly in recent months and have sought to clamp down on any form of dissent with a restrictive new protest law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, MENA Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
“Amnesty International considers the women prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. They have denied any involvement in the violence and this has been corroborated by the university security. It is baffling that they now may face life in prison.”
Abrar Al-Anany 18 and Menatalla Moustafa 18, both are first year students at Mansoura University’s Faculty of Arts, and Yousra Elkhateeb, 21, a recent graduate from the same University with BA in English and Education. They were arrested on 12 November 2013 after clashes erupted on the university campus between supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been held at Mansoura’s Public Prison ever since, where they are each allowed only a weekly five-minute visit with their families.
The clashes, which broke out during a protest held by student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, lasted more than five hours and left at least 70 people injured. After university security tried and failed to take control of the situation the university president called state security forces to intervene. They then entered the university campus with armoured vehicles and shot tear gas to disperse the students. At least 23 students were arrested, including the three women.
“Students who have been involved in violent acts should be dealt in accordance with the law and in line with Egypt’s human rights obligations. Students under the age of 18 must be treated according to juvenile justice rules,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
The Ministry of Interior did not allow the two students to have their books to study inside the prison and they were prevented from taking the end-of-semester exams.
The women are charged with belonging to a banned organization using “terrorist” methods – a charge regularly used by the authorities against those perceived to support the Muslim Brotherhood. They are also charged with protesting without permission under Egypt’s restrictive new protest law as well as charges of thuggery, attacking security forces and destroying public property.
According to witnesses and the women’s lawyers, they were not involved in the clashes. The women had peacefully taken part in protests earlier but sought safety in a room at the university’s faculty of pharmacy when violence broke out.
Amnesty International has seen a copy of a letter from the security department at Mansoura University to the public prosecutor stating that the women did not take part in the violence and asking for their release.
“The authorities seem determined to punish anyone who expresses dissent, irrespective of facts,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“The Egyptian authorities must stop treating peaceful protesters like criminals. The relentless crackdown on demonstrations, freedom of expression and independent reporting must end.”
Mohamed Soltan 25, is an Egyptian American citizen and Ohio State graduate who was arrested with three other Egyptian youth on August 25th of 2013. He strongly believes in nonviolence and supports the cause that promoted democracy, freedom and social justice for Egypt. Now he is held by the Egyptian police over politically motivated charges.
After months of illegal detention in Egypt’s infamous Torah prison, the prosecution’s allowance for renewing Mohamed’s temporary hold status every 15 days without bringing a shred of evidence against him forth ran out. When he finally stood before a judge, no evidence was presented and no argument was made, the judge simply ordered he be held for another 45 days.
In protest, Mohamed entered into a hunger strike immediately following the hearing on January 26th despite of his already fragile state. The Egyptian authorities bear the responsibility of his deteriorating health as they have stripped him of his most basic human rights and denied him much needed medical attention along with many other prisoners. You can get in touch with his campaign over Facebook, Twitter, or email on firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also sign the petition to free him. His first hearing is also set to the 8th of February,
Al Azhar Detainees
This sheet includes details about 24 more detained ladies who have also embarked on a hunger strike. They thought that the “free world” will spend at least a single article investigating their cases. Reporting on their struggle. After all, the whole concern there is about “human rights” and so. However they thought wrong.
The young students are being accused of also a batch of trumped-up and political charges and are not being treated as students, i.e., in accordance with the law and in line with Egypt’s human rights obligations.
That’s not all
That was a very short glimpse on the state of justice in Egypt. Thousands more are in prisons and we will be talking about them more, as the “free world” and its “revolutionary-icons” refuse to firmly stand in solidarity from a human rights perspective, regardless of affiliation.
The detainees above are not guilty and all the charges against them are made up by the regime. However, if we assume for the sake of argument that they did any of the charges above. Is that the real reason why the “free world” is ignoring them? For example, compare the mainstream media response in the case of Pussy Riot and in the cases above and you will get the answer.