Human Rights Behind Bars in Egypt

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The Activists

Alaa Abdel Fattah

Alaa Abdel Fattah

in prison for 600 days

Alaa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian activist born in 1981. As a Free Open Source Software developer and human rights activist, he has been at the forefront of the struggle for change in Egypt for many years, working relentlessly for the “bread, freedom and social justice” called for by the 2011 revolution. As a result, he has the unfortunate distinction of having been arrested not only by Mubarak but also all the different regimes that have ruled Egypt since the 2011 revolution.

Alaa is currently in prison in Egypt serving a five-year sentence after a trial that has been deemed unfair by international observers. Since being in prison for his current sentence, Alaa’s father, renowned human rights and constitutional lawyer, Ahmad Seif, has died at 60 and his younger sister, Sanaa, has been tried – also for protesting – and served 14 months of a two-year jail sentence.

Follow the campaign for his release on Facebook.

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Ismail Al-Iskandarani

Ismail Al-Iskandarani

in prison for 378 days

Ismail Al-Iskandarani is a researcher and journalist who was detained upon his return to Egypt from Germany on 29 November 2015.

After having been held for more than ten hours at the airport, he was later moved to State Security Prosecution after the authorities searched his laptop and found articles he wrote on Sinai and other political issues. He was interrogated on charges of belonging to an illegal group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and spreading its ideas, in addition to intentionally disseminating false information

Mr Iskandarani is one of very few well-informed journalists and researchers to have published extensively on the political, security and human rights situation in the Sinai Peninsula. In that context, he has provided rare and credible analysis on the conditions endured by the civilian population of North Sinai, an area where a sweeping counter-insurgency operation is being implemented by the military.

Read more on his blog (in Arabic) about Sinai and this petition for his release.

Ismail al-Iskandarani is an associate researcher with the Arab Reform Initiative, and was a guest researcher at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

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Mahmoud Hussein

Mahmoud Hussein

in prison for 1051 days

Mahmoud Hussein was arrested from a microbus and picked out because of his anti-torture t-shirt and scarf. Mahmoud Hussein is accused of breaking the “protest law”, getting paid to protest, possessing Molotov cocktails, and belonging to a terrorist organisation.

He has been in pre-trial detention for more than 700 days. He was only 18 years old when he was arrested and is now at 19 years old facing an unknown fate in an Egyptian prison. No credible evidence has been presented to link him with violent actions or terrorist activities.

On 9 February 2016, the Giza Felony Court extended his detention for another 45 days. Mahmoud has already spent the maximum allowable time in pretrial detention (two years), a landmark he passed on 25 January.

On 24 March 2016, the court decided to release him after 790 days in pre-trial detention! 

While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered.

See the Amnesty International campaign for the release of Mahmoud Hussein.

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Aya Hegazy

Aya Hegazy

in prison for 955 days

Aya Hegazy is an Egyptian-American activist who founded the organisation Belady with the objective of helping out street children. She was arrested in Cairo in May 2014 and charged with organising a group with the purposes of human trafficking, holding children for sexual exploitation and using them to disturb the peace in protests against security forces. Despite vehemently denying the charges, she was arrested with her husband (who was running the association with her) and two other colleagues.

The kids are being taught how to read and write, paint and learn self defense. Aya and her husband sleep on the floor in the conference room so that they can supervise the kids 24/7” her mother explained. Visit her Facebook page for more information and pictures of the children’s activities.

She also said that when Aya was interrogated by National Security, she was hit in the neck, fell to her knees and called names by the officer, who threatened her with the death sentence.

On 22 March, Aya’s trial was adjourned once more. The prosecution seems to have requested the wrong committee and not enough members showed up for the court to be able to operate under oath. The excuses are unacceptable and show the level of injustice that rules the courts of Egypt.

Her hearing on 21 May 2016 ended with a 6-month adjournment to 19 November. Her request for conditional release was denied and none of the international observers were permitted into the chamber.

Aya has been in pre-trial detention for over 2 years.

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Ahmed Said

Ahmed Said

in prison for 388 days

Ahmed Said is an independent human rights defender, surgeon and poet who provided emergency medical care to citizens attacked by security forces during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. He was arrested by Egyptian security forces, along with 12 other peaceful protesters on 19 November 2015 in Cairo, as they commemorated the anniversary of the 2011 Mohammad Mahmoud Street protests, which were violently repressed by riot police from 19 November to 24 November 2011. Over 40 people were killed in that crackdown on a demonstration initially sparked by the dispersal of a sit-in protest of families of citizens injured or killed in the initial 18-day uprising.

At the silent, peaceful protest held on the 2015 anniversary of this event, there was a call for accountability of the perpetrators of human rights violations that took place four years earlier in Mohammad Mahmoud Street.

For this, Ahmed Said and his co-detainees were arrested, blindfolded and interrogated by security officials without the presence of a lawyer. Said is charged with protesting without a permit, “taking part in a gathering of more than five people and obstructing traffic”, as well as “possession of publications that contain information disturbing public order”.

On 13 December 2015 the Abdeen Misdemeanour Court in Cairo sentenced Ahmed Said and four other protesters to two years of imprisonment for participating in a protest without a permit on the fourth anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud incidents. This sentence violates his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, supposedly guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and Egypt’s commitment to international human rights standards.

Ahmed Said is now held an isolated cell and banned from visits, meaning he is extremely vulnerable to violent assaults by the security officers.

Read his letter written from prison in December 2015.

Surgeon and poet Dr. Ahmed Said was released from prison on Friday 18 November 2016.

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Azza Soliman

Azza Soliman

Azza Soliman is a prominent lawyer and the founder of the Center for Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA). She is currently serving on its board of trustees. CEWLA is a feminist organisation that campaigns to promote gender equality, focusing in particular on legislative reform and awareness-raising.

On 17 November, Azza Soliman’s personal bank account and that of her law firm LJP (Lawyers for Justice and Peace) were frozen by instruction of the Central Bank like for Nadeem.

On 19 November, she was notified by the Egyptian authorities that she is banned from travelling, when going to Jordan to participate in a training on human rights.

On 7 December, she was arrested from her home and escorted to the police station by Egyptian security forces. She was later transferred to the New Cairo court where she was interrogated by the investigative judge of case no 173, known as the foreign funding case. Released on bail in the evening, she is nevertheless currently under investigation with the investigative judge.

Azza Soliman was a witness to a murder of activist Shaimaa ElSabbagh, who was killed while peacefully protesting on 24 January 2015. Two months later, the Qasr El Nile Prosecution Office in Cairo changed Ms Soliman’s status from being a witness to the killing of Shaimaa ElSabbagh to a defendant, accused of protesting illegally. She was acquitted of the charges, which the prosecutor subsequently appealed.

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Taher Mokhtar

Taher Mokhtar

in prison for 332 days

Dr. Taher Mokhtar is a prominent health activist and a member of the Rights and Freedoms Committee at the Doctors’ Syndicate. He is a vocal campaigner for prisoners’ right to adequate medical treatment in places of detention in Egypt, and is also noted for defending workers’, minorities’ and refugees’ rights.

He was arrested with his two flatmates, Hossam el din Hammad and Ahmad Hassan, on Jan. 14, 2016 following a raid on their apartment in Downtown Cairo. They were interrogated by National Security for nine hours without a lawyer, then questioned by the Prosecution, which accused them of possession of publications that call for the overthrow of the regime.

Their detention was renewed on Jan. 17, 2016 for 15 days pending investigation.

The detention of Dr Taher Mokhtar is part of a campaign of intimidation and repression of human rights defenders, and of a crackdown on rights activists and pro-democracy movements, ostensibly to thwart the organization of protests on Jan. 25, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution.

He was finally released on 3 August on a EGP 5,000 bail.

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Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud

Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud

in prison for 230 days

26-year old Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud began his professional career in 2009 as a journalist. In 2012 he began his engagement with civil society and human rights work as a member of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

Over the years Nagi worked on the launch of numerous solidarity and advocacy campaign, most prominent of which was his solidarity campaign with the students of the German University in Cairo (GUS), where he contributed to providing support to students expelled by the university because of their student activism, as well as documenting student activism at the university since the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Nagi also contributed to the production of numerous reports and research that addressed the issue of the students’ bylaws and statutes

In addition to his research work, Nagi coordinated the AFTE Students’ Monitor and participated in a large number of workshops and trainings for students, introducing them to student rights and freedoms, addressing student rights as a fundamental human right.

Through his work and contributions, he has become one of the most prominent Egyptian researchers in student rights and academic freedoms.

On 25 April 2016, Nagi was randomly arrested among others upon a call for peaceful protests against the agreement regarding the demarcation of maritime border between Egyptian authorities and their Saudi counterparts. He was subjected to interrogation by state security investigation and later accused of unlicensed demonstration.

On 14 May, Nagi and 21 others were sentenced to 5 years of hard labor for charges of participation in a demonstration giving thereby the harshest penalty according to the protest law. The verdict was not a legal decision but a political one, decided in advance with the aim of silencing any voice of dissent towards the ruling regime.

Researcher and human rights defender Mohamed Nagi and his colleagues were tried by an unconstitutional law and received cruel and politicized sentences. Those young people are in dire need of all your support and help before the verdict is consolidated in the court of appeal (the second and last degree).

 

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Malek Adly

Malek Adly

Malek Adly is a prominent human rights lawyer and the director of Lawyers Network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), which seeks to promote and mobilise social movements to spread the culture of human rights.

He is one the founders of the Front for Defending Egypt’s Protesters, a group comprising of 34 human rights organisations and several lawyers, which documents illegal practices carried out by state police forces against peaceful protesters.

Upon his arrest in Cairo’s Maadi district on 5 May 2016, Malek Adly was charged with attempting to overthrow the regime and transferred to Tora prison, Cairo where he is currently detained. A Cairo court renewed on 14 June his detention for 15 days.

There are reports that he is mistreated and beaten in detention, and denied family and lawyer visitation rights. The human rights defender was brought food, clothes and medication by his family as the prison was not providing them, but he was not allowed to receive them. His health is reported to be rapidly deteriorating.

On 28 August, he was released from prison after having spent nearly 4 months in solitary confinement. Although free, Malek Adly still faces charges and can be prosecuted. He is now subject to a travel ban.

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Ahmad Abdallah

Ahmad Abdallah

in prison for 230 days

Ahmed Abdallah is the co-founder and board director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). He is a key person in the structure and governance of ECRF, which he helped becoming one of the major independent human rights organisations in Egypt through his dedication to human rights and peaceful change. Since the creation of ECRF, in 2013, he delivered training sessions on documentation and campaigning for human rights across many Egyptian governorates. Ahmed Abdallah is also the co-founder of the Start Foundation for Development and Anti-Corruption.

He was arrested on 25 April and his sentence was extended continuously.

Against the backdrop of the charges related to the instigation of protests and the dissemination of news about the Egyptian-Saudi border deal and the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands, he was finally released on 10 September on bail of 10,000 EGP,

 

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Mina Thabet

Mina Thabet

in prison for 206 days

Mina Thabet is the is Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Program at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and a long term researcher on religious freedoms and minority rights in Egypt. He is also the co-founder of The Egyptian Coalition for minorities, and he was a consultant for the committee responsible for amending the 2013 Constitution. Mina Thabet co-founded also “Masperro Youth Union” and he acted as a representative of the group during the harsh repression on civil society in June 2013.

On 19 May 2016 security forces broke into his house  and arrested him; on 5 June his preventive detention was extended for 15 days.

But on 20 June, the Al-Nozha Appellant Misdemnour Court convened at the Counseling Room and decided to reject the appeal submitted by the Public Prosecution, therefore upholding the release order of Mina Thabet.

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Mohamed Lotfy

Mohamed Lotfy

Mohamed Lotfy is the founder and executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), an organisation that works in several governorates across Egypt to protect human rights, provide documentation and deliver pro-bono legal aid to victims of human rights violations. As a human rights defender, Mohamed Lotfy advocates on a broad range of issues, including enforced disappearance and freedom of association and assembly in Egypt.

On 2 June 2015, a travel ban was imposed on him by Egyptian state security, preventing him to attend a public event at the German Parliament during an Egyptian presidential visit to Berlin, where Mr Lotfy was meant to speak.

As the travel ban was issued, he was also detained for several hours at the airport and his passport was confiscated before he was allowed to return home. An officer in civilian clothes explained that the ban was being imposed for “security reasons” and informed him that he would be summoned for interrogation by the National Security Service. Then, on 20 October 2016, the Giza office of ECRF was raided. This is part of a broader trend of systematic intimidations against human rights defenders by the Egyptian authorities.

Mohamed Lotfy previously worked as an Egypt campaigner and researcher at Amnesty International focusing on police and military human rights violations. He has also worked for the World Organisation against Torture, the International Commission of Jurists and the International Organization for Migration. He holds a master’s degree in European studies and a License in Political sciences from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Mohamed is married and has one child.

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Esraa Abdel Fattah

Esraa Abdel Fattah

Esraa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian political activist. She advocates through digital media for human rights and in defence of youth protest movements in Egypt.

On 13 January 2015, Ms Abdel Fattah was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany as the police officers at the Cairo Airport informed her that a travel ban has been issued against her, without any prior notification. She filed a lawsuit to ask for the travel ban to be lifted, but in June 2015 the Cairo Administrative Court decided to uphold it. A decision that was upheld by the Criminal Court of South Cairo District in December 2015.

She has been under a travel ban for 23 months without any investigation or case file. The only information that she has received is that she is investigated as part of the case no 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding” case, in which leading Egyptian human rights defenders are targeted.

In 2008, Ms Abdel Fattah became known for co-founding the 6th of April movement during the mass protests against workers’ low wages and increasing food prices. She called for a day of civil disobedience on Facebook that mobilised thousands of young people asking for political change. She was imprisoned for several weeks by the Egyptian security for her role in organising the protest. During the 25th January uprising in 2011, she took a leading role in keeping the media updated about the situation on the ground.

She became a symbol of resistance and struggle for women human rights defenders and the youth movement in Egypt, which earned her international attention and recognition. Freedom House awarded her the “New Generation Democratic Activist” prize in 2010; she was nominated “Woman of the Year, 2011” by Glamour magazine and she was among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize 2011.

 

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Mozn Hassan

Mozn Hassan

Mozn Hassan is a woman human rights defender and the founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies (www.nazra.org) a feminist organisation working in Egypt and the MENA region on gender equality and combatting violence against women.

She was summoned to appear before a judge investigating what is known as the “foreign funding case” after her participation at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2016.

On June 2016, airport authorities in Cairo prevented her from travelling to Beirut, where she was supposed to participate in the executive committee meeting of the Women Human Rights Defenders Regional Coalition for the Middle East and North Africa, as a regional expert.  This travel ban is a clear reprisal measure designed to silence her voice and to stop her from participating in international advocacy.

Ms Hassan also published several articles on the issue of sexual violence against women in the public space and women’s political participation.

She is among the 2016 laureates for the Right Livelihood Award, but due to the ban, she has not been able to travel to receive the prize. In 2013, Ms Hassan has been awarded the inaugural Charlotte Bunch Human Rights Defender prize in at the Global Fund for Women’s 25th Anniversary. Ms Hassan is also a Board Member with the Global Fund for Women and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), as well as a member of the Regional Experts’ Committee of the Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

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Gamal Eid

Gamal Eid

Gamal Eid is a prominent human rights defender and executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Mr Eid founded ANHRI in 2004 with the aim of establishing an organisation to defend human rights in general, and freedom of expression in particular in Egypt and the Arab world through research and legal support to victims.

On 4 February 2016, Mr Eid was denied by Cairo Airport officials from boarding a flight to Athens.  He had no prior knowledge, no notification or summon for investigation regarding the travel ban and didn’t receive any information about the judicial body responsible for it.

Mr Eid is a lawyer who graduated from `Ain Shams University College of Law and served as a defence attorney in several human rights cases during the Mubarak era.

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Mohamed Zaree

Mohamed Zaree

Mohamed Zaree has been the Egypt Office Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) since 2014. He leads CIHRS’ research, human rights education, media outreach and national advocacy activities in Egypt. He also coordinates the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs, created in 2007.

Since 2012, Mohammed Zaree has represented CIHRS in several official committees charged with drafting a new NGO law for Egypt. He has advocated for freedom of association with different Egyptian ministries under the presidencies of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohammad Morsi and Adly Mansour.

On 26 May 2016, Mohamed Zaree was stopped at Cairo International Airport before boarding a flight for a business trip. The officers informed him that a travel ban had been imposed on him, based on an order by the investigative judge of the case no 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding case.”

Mohamed Zaree is a leading protagonist of Egypt’s human rights movement and remains the representative of CIHRS in Egypt. However, his personal safety and freedom are at risk due to the prosecution of the foreign funding case, which targets many human rights defenders in Egypt. As part of the repressive pre-trial measures, CIHRS’ assets were frozen on 17 September 2016.

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Imprisoned and harassed activists need your help and your voice!

Take action now and show your support by signing our petition on Change.

Take a picture of yourself or others holding a sign calling upon Egyptian authorities to free imprisoned activists and to stop harassing them, and send it to us at egypt@euromedrights.net.

Spread the word and share this campaign via Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. You can use our Tweet template below

Support @EMHRN & take action to #HarassNoMore #HumanRights activists in #Egypt http://ow.ly/VjUge (add your picture to the tweet)

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Voices count! Help us in getting as many as possible!

About this Campaign

 

 

This campaign is a joint initiative of EuroMed Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to gather public support for

  • the release of all Egyptian activists currently held in prison
  • the end of growing harassment from the Egyptian authorities

Egyptian activists are striving for human rights, democracy and other fundamental freedoms, yet have been targeted since 2011 for their role in defending and promoting civil, political and economic rights. Due to their prominent contribution in initiating change, many Egyptian activists are being targeted, threatened, prosecuted in political trials and sentenced to long prison terms.

In Egyptian President Sisi’s own words, “(…) there are many innocent people inside prisons, soon many of them will be released according to the available permissions” (declared on television on 22 February 2015)

This systematic crackdown on dissent must stop. All detained activists must be freed and this permanent harassment ended!

Take action and show your support and solidarity:

  • sign our petition 
  • take a picture of yourself or others holding a sign calling upon Egyptian authorities to free imprisoned activists and to stop harassing them, and send it to us at egypt@euromedrights.net.

Every voice counts! Help us in getting as many as possible!

"Putting peaceful activists behind bars may give the authorities a feeling of control, but it’s illusory – and it’s certainly not the road to building a democratic political system."

Ahdaf Soueif - Author, Egypt

Latest Updates

  • Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence's bank account frozen

    The board of directors of the Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence were surprised by a notification from the Crédit Agricole Bank informing them that their bank account has been frozen in accordance with a directive issued by the Central Bank of Egypt. The account will remain frozen until Al-Nadeem adjusts its legal status to align with the Law on associations no 84/2002. This law has been rejected by many civil society organisations as it imposes restrictive regulations on NGOs and puts them under the authority of the Social Solidarity Ministry.

  • Geneina's trial postponed, his defence disqualifies the court judges

    On 3 November, New Cairo Appellant Misdemeanor Court held a hearing of the trial of counselor Hisham Geneina, former head of the Central Auditing Agency (CAA), on a charge of propagating false news in reference to the statements and reports he made about corruption in Egypt while he was in office. The court rejected the defense team’s main requests, a matter that the lawyers deem in violation of the right to defense and due process and therefore they disqualified the court judges. The court then decided to postpone the case to 10 November in order to finish the procedure of disqualification. However, the defense team waived the request and pleaded immediately. The court set 22 December 2016 as the judgment hearing.

  • Home of rights lawyer raided, his mother and brother detained

    On 13 November, Alexandria security forces raided the house of human rights lawyer Mohamed Ramdan. Without clear grounds, the security forces headed to the lawyer’s home to arrest him. When they didn’t find him, they resorted to detaining his mother and brother in order to compel him to turn himself in. They tried to get them to their car, but the residents interfered and prevented them from doing so.

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