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Posts tagged ‘Injustice in Egypt’

Egypt to build 11th prison in less than 3 years

June 15, 2016

Egyptian authorities are to build a new prison in Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo, the third to be built this year and the eleventh since the military coup three years ago, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

Human rights groups have said that there are 40 prisons in Egypt, these along with police stations, military basis and secret prisons are all used to hold prisoners in terrible conditions.

Since the military coup against the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have increased arbitrary arrests based on political opinion.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights said that the number of prisoners held in Egyptian jails and detention centers has reached more than 41,000.

Egyptian authorities have said that the country’s constitution dictates how prisoners are treated and that they adhere to international laws, a claim human rights groups deny.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160615-egypt-to-build-11th-prison-in-less-than-3-years/.

Egypt journalists stage protest over police raid at union

May 02, 2016

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate called for the dismissal of the interior minister and an immediate sit-in at its headquarters in downtown Cairo on Monday, to protest the police detention of two journalists on its premises the night earlier.

After an emergency meeting in the early hours of Monday morning, the group called for the “open-ended” sit-in to run through a Wednesday general assembly meeting and World Press Freedom day on May 3. Later Monday morning, dozens gathered at the steps of the building, chanting “journalists are not terrorists.” They plan for a larger demonstration Monday afternoon.

The syndicate described the police’s entry into the building as a “raid by security forces whose blatant barbarism and aggression on the dignity of the press and journalists and their syndicate has surprised the journalistic community and the Egyptian people.” Some syndicate members have said the raid was heavy-handed, involving dozens of officers and resulted in a security guard being injured.

Police denied they entered the building by force and said only eight officers were involved, who they said were acting on an arrest warrant for the two journalists — accused of organizing protests to destabilize the country. Unauthorized demonstrations in Egypt are banned, and demonstrators subject to arrest.

“The Ministry of Interior affirms that it did not raid the syndicate or use any kind of force in arresting the two, who turned themselves in as soon as they were told of the arrest warrant,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud el-Sakka, are government critics who work for a website known as January Gate, also critical of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government. It was unclear what size any sit-in at the syndicate could achieve. Police, backed by army troops, on Monday had initially barricaded the entire area and prevented people from approaching the building, but they eventually lifted the blockade. Still hundreds of uniformed and undercover police were deployed across central Cairo in order to prevent any protests.

A day earlier, police prevented hundreds of workers from holding a meeting at the building to commemorate International Workers’ Day, prompting independent trade union leaders to urge the government to allow them freedom of assembly.

The syndicate has invited the trade union leaders to join the sit-in to denounce the “raid” and protest restrictions on freedom of assembly for labor organizers. It said the move was illegal and violated its charter, which forbids police from entering the building without the presence of a syndicate official, and is urging police to end their “siege” of the building and stop preventing journalists from entering.

The journalists’ syndicate has been a rallying point for demonstrations in the past, and was blocked in a similar manner ahead of planned anti-government protests last Monday. The building drew particular attention because it was from there that some 2,000 demonstrators gathered last month to protest el-Sissi’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens to break up the protests, the first significant wave of street demonstrations since the former army chief became president in 2014.

A second round of mass demonstrations over the issue planned for last Monday were stifled by a massive security presence, with hundreds of arrests and only small flash mobs managing to assemble, drawing tear gas and birdshot from the riot police.

Egypt cedes two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Egyptian government on Saturday evening said a new maritime border agreement with Riyadh would put the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran – long considered Egyptian possessions – within Saudi territorial waters.

“The Red Sea islands [Sanafir and Tiran] fall within Saudi territorial waters in light of the new border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” the Egyptian government said in a statement.

On Friday, Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail signed the deal with Saudi officials at the presidential palace in Cairo in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the latter of whom is currently visiting Egypt.

The government statement went on to describe the agreement as an “important achievement” that would allow both countries to take full advantage of their “rich natural resources”.

It added that the border demarcation deal was the “result of six years of hard work and 11 rounds of meetings”, noting that two technical committees had used the latest scientific methods to accurately demarcate the maritime border between the two countries.

“Ratification of this agreement will allow Egypt to take advantage of the exclusive economic zone in the Red Sea and will provide Egypt with exploration opportunities for additional natural resources,” the government statement read.

It went on to note that the deal would be brought before Egypt’s parliament – which is dominated by pro-regime MPs – for ratification.

Criticism

The agreement came in for heavy criticism by opposition figures, including many prominent former officials and parliamentarians.

In a joint statement, they asserted their “total rejection” of “all agreements concluded by this illegal regime, including the relinquishment of Egypt’s historical right to territorial waters, land and airspace, along with the management of its airports and wealth and its territorial jurisdiction and national sovereignty.”

The statement was signed by former MP Tharwat Nafi; Saif Abdul Fattah, a former adviser to ex-President Mohamed Morsi (who was ousted in a 2013 military coup); journalist Abdul Rahman Yousef; former MP Gamal Heshmat; former MP Hatem Azzam; former government minister Amr Darrag; Tariq al-Zumr, head of the Building and Development Party; Ayman Nour, a former presidential candidate; Ihab Shiha, head of the Asala Party; Yahiya Hamid, former assistant to ousted President Morsi; and Muhammad Mahsoub, a former government minister.

Tiran Island (80 square kilometers) lies at the entrance of the Strait of Tiran, which separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea only six kilometers from the Sinai coast. Sanafir Island (33 square kilometers) is located to the east of Tiran Island.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/24935-egypt-cedes-two-red-sea-islands-to-saudi-arabia.

Egyptians protest after policeman kills driver

February 19, 2016

CAIRO (AP) — Disgruntled Egyptians beat up a policeman, blocked roads, and surrounded the local security headquarters late Thursday night after the officer killed a driver in a dispute. Egypt’s Interior Ministry media office said in a statement that the killing followed an argument over the sergeant’s fare for his ride in Cairo’s populous el-Darb el-Ahmar district. In the course of the dispute, the officer shot and killed the driver.

A second Interior Ministry statement called the shooting a “mistake.” Videos posted by the el-Masry el-Youm news website showed tearful residents displaying bloodstained sections of cardboard and saying the officer had verbally insulted the driver and when the latter objected, the policeman shot the driver in the head.

Egypt state-run news agency said the policeman was arrested. The incident highlighted ongoing tensions in Egypt over the behavior of the security forces. Last week, Egyptian doctors staged a large protest after police officers assaulted two emergency room doctors in a Cairo hospital.

Human rights groups say that a culture of impunity among the Egyptian security forces has led to widespread police brutality. Trials are rare and when they do occur, sentences are usually appealed and subsequently reduced.

Unrestrained police abuses were also one of the main contributing factors in the 2011 popular uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. Thursday’s incident comes after the body of an Italian student was found by a roadside in Cairo earlier this month, marked with cigarette burns and other signs of torture. Italy has demanded those responsible be brought to justice. Egypt has dismissed suggestions its security services could have been involved.

Egyptian protesters demand release of detained blogger, activists

By BNO News

CAIRO (BNO NEWS) — Dozens of Egyptian protesters on Tuesday gathered outside the Cairo Military Court to express solidarity with detained activists and protested against the ruling military council, the Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported.

Members of the “Free Maikel” group waited outside the military court in which detained blogger Maikel Nabil’s sentence is being appealed. Nabil, who has been on a hunger strike for 50 days and now weighs only 44 kilograms (97 pounds), was sentenced in August to three years in jail on charges of insulting the military after publishing a blog post entitled “The people and the army were never one hand.”

Activists chanted slogans against Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as they waited outside for the verdict. They also called for the release of Ali Sultan and Khaled Saleh, two other civilians currently standing trial before military courts.

“I really don’t think he’ll be freed,” said group member John Milad. “The authorities have been extremely stubborn in regard to Maikel’s case, especially due to his opinions on Israel and the Egyptian army.”

Nabil has said that he would maintain his hunger strike until his release. He also has vowed to stop drinking water as well if Tuesday’s appeal trial fails to grant him his freedom, the newspaper reported.

According to reports, as many as 12,000 civilians have been hauled before military tribunals since February. Activists have been demanding that civilians only be tried by civil courts.

Last month, the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information noted a ‘sharp decline’ in freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak during a revolution earlier this year. The human rights group condemned recent measures taken by the SCAF, which was handed the power to govern Egypt after the ouster of Mubarak, such as the return of Mubarak-era emergency laws.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Source: Wire Update.

Link: http://wireupdate.com/news/egyptian-protesters-demand-release-of-detained-blogger-activists.html.

Egypt’s government resigns amid corruption probe

September 12, 2015

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s government resigned Saturday in the face of intense criticism from state-friendly media that reflects growing discontent but stops short of faulting President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the former general who led the overthrow of an Islamist president two years ago.

The office of the president said he accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and his Cabinet but that the ministers would continue to serve until a new body is appointed. El-Sissi tasked Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail with forming a new Cabinet within a week.

Prior to handing in his resignation, Mehleb provided a report detailing the performance of the government, which two officials from the president’s office said el-Sissi found “unsatisfying.” The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.

Egypt’s president is generally in charge of major affairs of state while the prime minister, whom he appoints, handles day-to-day running of the government. El-Sissi in recent months has had to perform tasks that normally should fall to Mehleb, such as arranging meetings with ministers and negotiating business deals with foreign investors, according to the two officials. Mehleb also failed to pressure his ministers into following through on memorandums of understanding that el-Sissi signed during a much-publicized economic summit in March, they said.

The country’s private media, while lavishing praise on el-Sissi, have slammed the government in recent weeks, accusing ministers of incompetence and of being out of touch with ordinary citizens suffering from years of turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

“El-Sissi and the armed forces are responsible for the accomplishments we see,” said Ibrahim Eissa, a prominent journalist and popular TV host, who called Mehleb and his Cabinet a “burden” on the president. “All of the ministers that failed were Mehleb’s choices,” Eissa told viewers earlier this week.

The government suffered a major blow when Agriculture Minister Salah el-Din Helal was detained Monday after tendering his resignation amid an investigation into allegations that he and others received over $1 million in bribes.

The Egyptian government has long been plagued by corruption allegations, particularly regarding land deals. El-Sissi routinely insists that he is rooting out corruption. Mehleb walked out of a press conference in Tunisia earlier this week after being asked about the allegations, a move widely ridiculed by the pro-Sissi private media.

“Didn’t you watch el-Sissi’s speeches?” television host Youssef el-Hosseiny said, before playing clips of the president’s past press conferences for comparison. The corruption allegations have fed into the perception that the government is detached from the people and engaged in the sort of cronyism that was widespread in the Mubarak era and was a central grievance of the protesters who overthrew him.

Last week, the higher education minister reportedly tried to exempt the children of judges, army and police officers from unpopular regulations that restrict where Egyptians can attend university. In May, the justice minister suggested the children of sanitation workers could never aspire to be judges.

Mehleb, a former construction magnate and prominent member of Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party, angered many in July when he suggested the country’s youth consider driving auto-rickshaws, known as tok-toks, instead of counting on government employment.

El-Sissi has approved a new civil service law that many believe will dramatically reduce the country’s 6 million-strong public workforce. There have been few public expressions of discontent with the government. A draconian law restricting protests, and a wide-ranging crackdown on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as well as secular activists, have largely silenced dissent.

The dismissal of the Cabinet could further bolster support for el-Sissi ahead of parliamentary elections later this year, furthering the image he has cultivated of himself as a leader who is above the political fray.

More Brotherhood members get life sentences

Monday, 31 August 2015

Nine more members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Egypt, Anadolu has reported. In the same session, four other members of the movement were each sent to prison for four years.

Those convicted by the Criminal Court in Ismailiyah included a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Office, Mohamed Taha Wahdan, and the local spokesman for the movement in the city, Ali Abdullah, in addition to the main Brotherhood official in the governorate, Sabry Khalafallah.

All were arrested following the dispersal of a pro-democracy demonstration in December 2013. They were accused of attempting to undermine Egypt’s security, public safety, taking part in an illegal demonstration and being affiliated with Egypt’s largest Islamic movement.

A source in Ismailiyah added that the Appeal Court had released a number of pro-Brotherhood individuals on bail.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/20736-more-brotherhood-members-get-life-sentences.

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