Cairo: 18 May, 2017 – The undersigned organizations express their deep condemnation of the escalating police campaign targeting dozens of activists through prosecution and detention that took place last month, the last episode of which was breaking into the house of the ex-wife of leftist journalist Ibrahim el-Sahary, which constitutes the return of the unpleasant “Dawn Visitors” phenomenon that was widespread during the reign of ousted dictator Mubarak.
This police campaign included the arrest of Sayed Mohammed al-Sayed, known as “Sayed Kabu,” and Karim Ahmed Yusuf, known as “Karim Batshan,” on charges of publishing false news in order to cast doubt on the performance of the regime and eliciting to it, cast doubt on the integrity of the judiciary, inciting citizens to demonstrate, protest and disobedience, and publishing pictures insulting the person and the position of the president, against the backdrop of posts on the social networking website Facebook.
Activists “Mustafa al-Jales” and “Mustafa Abdullah Shakra” were arrested on Tuesday morning in Qena, just one day before the arrest of “Andrew Nasif” at dawn on Wednesday in Al Sharqiya.
The police campaign reached its peak in May with a major escalation against political activists, especially against the youth, starting with Nayel Hassan, Islam al-Hadari, al-Shazly Hussein and Ahmed Ibrahim, who were all charged by the authorities in Alexandria with joining a terrorist group to overthrow the state, promoting terrorism directly and indirectly to commit a terrorist act and using a website to promote the criticisms and ideologies of terrorist groups to overthrow the state and the regime, the same list of charges leveled against Ashraf Abu Helw, a former spokesman for the people of the Tusun area, who got arrested a few days ago in Alexandria.
The list of victims of this campaign includes Ahmed al-Hefni, a member of the al-Dostour Party in Port Said, who was detained by National Security Forces for a period before being brought before the prosecution, which in turn referred him to an urgent trial before Port Said Misdemeanors Court for insulting the president, misusing social networking websites and belonging to an unlawful group.
Such accusations came against the background of a proposal submitted to the Parliament by the head of the National Defense and Security Committee, Kamel Amer, to amend some articles of the Penal Code to aggravate the penalty for insulting the president to be from one day to three years prison sentence and a fine ranging from 50 thousand EGP to 200 thousand EGP.
While Mohamed Walid, a member of the Bread and Freedom Party in Suez, was taken by the police to the National Security headquarters, the list of charges against him represent a blatant example of targeting young people, the use of law in pursuing opponents and the hostility towards social networks’ users.
The list of accusations included “sedition” , spreading rumors on social networking websites that could lead to false rumors against state institutions, the army, the police and the judiciary, promoting false rumors about the economy in an attempt to inflame citizens’ feelings, revive their revolutionary spirit, seeking to attract youth to carry out hostile operations targeting government and police facilities, targeting the army using homemade firearms and Molotov cocktails in perpetration for hostilities, stirring up the public, and shaping public opinion by force to put pressure on the regime under the pretext of its inability to provide the security and services necessary for citizens and the disruption of their interests and seek to stir up sectarian strife between the two pillars of the nation, he was released on bail today, Thursday morning.
All of these charges were based on posts on Walid’s Facebook account, including the following: “I am neither pro-Mubarak nor do I belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, I just want to live as a human being” and the slogan “Down with the military rule” in addition to the slogan of the Bread and Freedom Party.
Walid’s arrest came days after the arrest of Gamal Abdul Hakim, a student and a member of the same party in Al Sharqiya, he is a student at the Faculty of Commerce in Zagazig, the prosecution decided to detain him for 15 days pending investigation on a list of charges, including promotion in speech and writing to overthrow the regime and the disruption of institutions and using social networking tools to promote the ideas of a terrorist group. Moreover, security officers broke into the house of engineer Essam al-Mahdi, terrorized his wife and children, and kidnapped him.
The last episode of this campaign was the arrest of Ahmad Fathi, a member of the Bread and Freedom Party (under construction) from his home in Minya at dawn, and his whereabouts remain unknown till now.
The undersigned organizations, as they condemn what is happening to democratic advocates, activists and members of youth parties and movements, confirm that those responsible for such crimes will not have impunity and their crimes will not be subject to a statute of limitations and all those involved will be persecuted sooner or later. The organizations call on all civil society and political parties to stand up against attempts to spread a climate of fear and against establishing a police state through violating the law and using it to support the police state.
- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
- Nazra for Feminist Studies
- Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence & Torture
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence Studies (AITAS)
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)