Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Microbus drivers launch strike after police kills co-worker

Mada Masr
Maadi microbus drivers launch strike after police fatally shoot colleague

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mohamed Hamama

Scores of microbus drivers began striking in Cairo’s Maadi district early Monday morning in protest over the fatal shooting of a fellow driver by police earlier in the day.

The strike left throngs of commuters stranded in several parts of Maadi, particularly Al-Arab and Street Seven neighborhoods.

A driver participating in the strike, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Mada Masr that the microbus driver was killed after a minor collision with a police vehicle under a bridge on the ring road in Maadi’s Saqr Qureish neighborhood. They quarreled, and then the officer took out his weapon and shot the microbus driver in the head, his colleague reported.

The Ministry of Interior presented a slightly different account of the event in a statement on Monday, asserting that a member of the Basateen Police Station, who had been called to resolve the quarrel, accidentally killed the driver. Upon arriving at the scene, he reportedly responded by "firing a warning shot in the air from the gun in his possession, which resulted in the accidental death of the driver."

Another striking driver, also speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the deceased driver as a 20-year-old from Beni Suef, known by the nickname “Gamal Julia.” The Ministry of Interior’s statement identified him as “Gamal,” with the initials “N.T.” Other striking drivers stated that their deceased colleague had been married for just under a month.

Despite the microbus strike, taxis and public buses continued to operate on Monday, prompting several drivers to form roadblocks to impede traffic. In some instances, striking drivers threatened other drivers who were not taking part in the collective action.

The fatality in Maadi is the latest in a string of similar incidents in which police have killed unarmed civilians in recent months.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo’s Darb al-Ahmar in February, following the fatal shooting of a civilian by a police officer, leading to clashes between angry residents and police forces in the heavily populated district.

In April, a tea vendor was shot and killed by a police officer outside Rehab City in New Cairo. The officer reportedly opened fire on the vendor following an argument over the price of a tea. Two passersby were reportedly also injured in the shooting, according to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

According to the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence of Violence and Torture’s July report, 40 people across the country have died as a result of police brutality this year.

In mid-August, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi introduced amendments to provisions of the police authority law, after Parliament approved the legislation earlier in the month. The amendments impose greater restrictions on the police's use of force and firearms in incidents which do not warrant such a response.

The amendments also mandated that police personnel should not be in constant possession of state-issued firearms, stipulating that they submit their weapons to storage facilities designated by their presiding officers at the conclusion of each shift, except in cases where a presiding officer or authority judges that it is necessary to maintain possession.

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that the Ministry of Interior had moved to keep more than 90 percent of low-ranking police officers from constantly possessing state-issued firearms. According to sources from the Interior Ministry, only a few exceptions have been made to the new regulation — for members actively serving police investigation units and to ensure the security of police directorates, departments and stations.

*Translated by Jano Charbel

Slaughtered & skinned, carcasses of 250 donkeys hazardously dumped without burial in Sohag

Mada Masr
250 skinned donkeys dumped without burial in Sohag

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Officials in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Sohag are conducting investigations to identify those involved in dumping the carcasses of 250 skinned donkeys disposed of on a desert road near the town of Akhmim.

Local media outlets reported that investigations began on Monday, following the discovery of the donkeys the previous day. Graphic photos circulating on social media revealed how the animals were dumped in the open, after being slaughtered and skinned for their hides, which are increasingly being marketed as cattle leather and sold at marked-up prices in domestic markets.

The 250 carcasses were found in one concentrated area along a small desert road near the village of Kola without a safe or hygienic burial, in close proximity to agricultural and residential areas.

Sohag Governor Ayman Abdel Moneim has mobilized a team of veterinarians and environmental specialists from the governorate to safely dispose of the decomposing bodies at a safe distance away from any inhabited areas, reported the privately owned Youm7 news portal.  

The veterinarians noted that the donkeys had not been slaughtered for their meat, but had only been skinned for their hides, a recurring phenomenon in Egypt.

Less than one month ago, three men in Old Cairo were jailed after being apprehended in a tannery with the carcasses of four donkeys. Another three donkeys were found alive in the tannery.

The men reportedly confessed to selling the donkey hides for substantially marked-up prices at local leather shops and tanneries, which market them as being leather from cattle. Jailed pending investigations, they added that they were not slaughtering or selling the donkeys for their meat.

An unnamed veterinarian from the Ministry of Agriculture told local media outlets last month that the average price of an adult donkey may exceed LE200, yet some farmers and vendors of donkeys – who have traditionally supplied local zoos and circuses, to feed lions and tigers – are currently demanding nearly 10 times that price per animal.

He pointed out the sale of donkey hides is far more profitable than the sale of their meat, particularly amid market indicators of a growing overseas demand for donkey hides. Among the countries with the largest demand for donkey hides is China, where they are increasingly used to manufacture gelatin, glue and medicines.

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Outpouring of solidarity with civilian workers from Alexandria Shipyard on military trial

Mada Masr

August 2, 2016

Jano Charbel 

More than 500 individuals and civil society groups signed petitions in solidarity with 26 civilian workers from Alexandria Shipyard Company who are currently standing trial before a military court.

The case has been ongoing since June 18. The workers, half of whom are being tried in absentia, face charges of instigating strikes and obstructing operations at the company. They deny the charges, claiming they weren’t involved in any strike action but staged a sit-in that did not halt production.

Military prosecutors have charged the workers with violating Article 124 of Egypt’s Penal Code, which stipulates penalties of three months to one year imprisonment and/or fines of up to LE500 for civil servants who deliberately refrain from performing their duties at work.

A verdict in the ongoing case was due to be issued on August 2, but was postponed to August 16.

During the sit-in, staged on May 22 and 23, workers demanded the payment of the national minimum wage (LE1,200 per month), overdue profit-shares, annual Ramadan bonuses, health insurance coverage and the dismissal of the company’s chief administrator, as well as the re-operation of the shipyard’s stalled production lines.

Despite the non-violent nature of their sit-in, military police were deployed to the Shipyard Company, where security forces have prevented nearly 2,500 shipyard workers from entering the premises since May 24, bringing almost all production to a halt.

Military conscripts were deployed to temporarily replace some of the civilian workers at the company, according to lawyer Mohamed Awad, who added that the lockdown is still being enforced despite promises the company would be operational again by August 1.

The company’s nearly 2,500 excluded workers, who are not on trial, have been paid their basic wages, but not the bonuses that usually supplement their incomes, as they didn’t work during the 70-day lockdown, according to Awad. These wages amount to less than the minimum wage.

One online petition, signed by over 330 individuals, calls on Egyptian authorities to end the use of military trials to punish civilian workers for standing up for their rights. The petition adds that Alexandria Military Court should “immediately halt this illegal persecution.”

Another email-based petition, circulated by labor activists, was signed by over 200 people and endorsed by 13 political groups. 

The petition cites Article 204 of Egypt’s 2014 Constitution, which stipulates, “Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that constitute a direct assault on military institutions, the Armed Forces, its camps or any other body under its jurisdiction… including military factories.”

The 13 groups who signed the petition include: The Bread and Freedom Party, the Karama Party, the Strong Egypt Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the National Partnership Current, the Popular Current, the Liberties Committee of the Journalists Syndicate, the Revolutionary Socialists, Youth for Justice and Freedom, the April 6 Youth Movement’s Democratic Front, Toward a Just Labor Law campaign, Workers' Struggle Current, and the Independent General Union for Tourism Workers.

“Neither workers nor other civilians should stand trial before military courts, or any other form of exceptional courts,” the petition stated.

These petitions were preceded by a solidarity conference in Cairo on June 27, titled: Against Military Trials of Workers, which demanded that all charges be dropped and the case be referred to a civilian court.

Some parliamentarians also issued their own statements criticizing the trial, the latest in a number of military trials against civilian workers.

“Egypt is a state, not a military barracks,” Member of Parliament Haitham al-Hariry says, asserting that the trial “aims to intimidate and threaten workers,” and “Civilians should not stand trial before military courts, even if they are working under military administration.”

Officials from the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) have, however, issued statements supporting the military trial.

ETUF Vice President, Magdy al-Badawy told media outlets in late July that the trial of civilian workers before a military court is regular procedure. Badawy added that, since the company is administered by the Defense Ministry, its workers should be subject to the provisions of military laws.

Alexandria Shipyard Company was established as a state-owned enterprise in the 1960s, and has been owned and operated by Egypt’s Defense Ministry since 2007.

At least 18,000 civilians have stood trial before military tribunals since the popular uprising of January 25, 2011, according to rights activists.


*Alexandria Shipyard workers to remain in jail until 18 September


*Photo courtesy of