Saturday, April 30, 2016

1,277 detained in protests against Sisi's handover of islands to KSA

Mada Masr
Front states over 1,000 detained in recent demonstrations in Egypt

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters published a report on Thursday, documenting 1,277 arrests and detentions between April 15 and 27, the period coinciding with popular mobilizations against Egyptian authorities prompted by the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

The list issued by the front documents cases spanning across 22 Egyptian cities wherein 577 individuals have been referred to the prosecution and 619 have been released. The legal status of 81 cases is unclear, according to the front's lawyers.

Those arrested are predominately men and include 52 minors.

Yasser Azzam, who was arrested in Dokki on April 25, was released on Thursday from a Central Security Forces camp. He told Mada Masr that he was kept in a 12-square-meter cell with another 40 inmates. The men were forced to sleep on the floor, as the camp authorities did not provide beds or mattresses.

"We demanded to go to the bathroom, so Central Security Forces came to our cells trying to scare us. But we continued protesting until they let us use the bathroom," Azzam said.

While in detention, Azzam states he was asked about his opinion on "the January 25 revolution, the June 30 events, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the government’s performance."

Fatemah Serag, a lawyer and member of the front, notes that wide ranging suspicion led to the high number of arbitrary arrests from places far from demonstration sites and the subsequent release of 60 percent of those arrested.

Other lawyers have criticized the prosecution’s handling of arrests and referrals to investigation.

Lawyer Yasmine Hossam Eddin told Mada Masr that the prosecution issued "false visit permits" to family members of those arrested on April 15 and that are currently being detained in the Tora prison.

"In the Agouza Police Station [where some protesters have been detained], I saw how prosecutors were screaming at arrested youth as though they were policemen and not investigators," Hossam Eddin said.

Lawyer Ahmad Othman told Mada Masr that prosecutors present at the Agouza Police Station and the Dokki Police Station did not intervene when police officers prevented defense lawyers from attending detainee’s interrogation sessions.

"The prosecution also refused to record how those arrested were held longer than the 24-hour legal period between their arrests and referral to investigation. It also refused to record how arrest warrants were issued after the detainees were in fact arrested...[and] to record the fact that National Security Agency members interrogated those arrested before they were referred to prosecution," Othman stated.

The prosecution has also refused lawyer’s requests to record incidents of torture that occurred in detention centers, lawyer Sameh Samir told Mada Masr. "We don't want the prosecutors to do anything beyond recording these facts in the cases files," he said.

Prosecutors have also often interrogated detainees inside police stations where they have faced torture, a practice contested by lawyers. While it is not illegal to conduct interrogations there, lawyers state that the non-neutral setting is inappropriate for the legal process.

"There is almost an agreement that the prosecution is not a neutral player in human rights cases," says Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression lawyer Hassan al-Azhari.

Azhari called for lawyers to protest the prosecution’s actions by boycotting interrogations in an attempt to showcase the process’s lack of credibility.

During the reign of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, police officers and state security officers were often hired as prosecutors. The practice is widely contended to be the reason for the prosecutor’s lack of independence from the executive branch.



43 Egyptian & foreign journalists detained/arrested while covering Tiran & Sanafir protests 


*Photo courtesy of

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