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Egypt

    April 10, 2015

    Today will be a nerve-wracking day for Mohamed Soltan, a 27-year-old US-Egyptian activist who has been languishing in Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison, where he has been on hunger strike for more than 14 months.

    The court sentenced his father, Salah Soltan, and 13 others to death on 16 March. Their sentences may be confirmed after consultation with the Grand Mufti.

    Tomorrow, Mohamed and 36 others will face the same court on charges including “funding the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in” – a mass protest in Cairo in August 2013 that was forcibly dispersed by security forces – and spreading “false information” to destabilize the security of Egypt. They are part of a group of 51 individuals arrested after the sit-in as part of a sweeping crackdown on supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

    Mohamed’s sister, Hanaa, is incredibly anxious about what the future might hold for her family. Below is a harrowing letter she wrote to her brother:

    Dear Mohamed,

    April 07, 2015

    By Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty Internationa. Follow Hassiba on Twitter @HassibaHS.

    For 600 days Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, a 27-year-old Egyptian photojournalist, has been holed up in a small cell in the infamous Tora prison. His crime: taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013. Six have been killed since then.

    Here’s a harrowing letter that Mahmoud Abou Zeid sent from his cell:

    “My life changed forever on the morning of Wednesday 14 August 2013. I was taking pictures of people protesting on the streets of Cairo when police came and locked down the streets. Thousands of people were immediately arrested – not only Morsi supporters, but also dozens of people caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    January 25, 2015

    By Tarek Chatila, Montreal-area activist and writer for Amnesty Canada’s Isr/OT/PA co-group

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” wrote French critic Alphonse Karr in 1849. Turbulent change, he observed, has a counterproductive tendency to reinforce the status quo.

    A truism which precisely reflects the state of human rights in Egypt today.

    Four years after electrifying scenes beamed around the world from Tahrir Square - a vast ocean of people congregating and chanting defiantly for democratic reform - the aspirations of the Egyptian people and the ‘January 25 Revolution’ have yet to be realized.

    And while the Egyptian popular uprising succeeded in deposing long-serving President Hosni Mubarak, successive administrations have failed to adequately address the endemic human rights violations which continue to plague the country.

    The faces have changed, but the policies remain much the same.

    November 25, 2014

    Widespread student protests against the repressive practices of the current government have rocked Egypt since the academic year began on October 11th. The subsequent crackdown by the authorites has been marked by arbitrary and excessive use of force resulting in hundreds of arrests and injuries.

    Amnesty International Canada and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy have co-authored the following statement of solidarity:

    We, the undersigned student associations and clubs, are following closely the situation in Egypt and the violation of the basic human rights of Egyptian students in universities all over Egypt since the start of the school year there in October.

    July 03, 2013

    Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, blogs from Cairo

    While the world is focusing on the political fall-out of millions of people taking to the streets in Egypt, with widespread calls for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi, and the army taking over, other stomach-turning developments have passed virtually unnoticed: Women and girls protesting in the vicinity of Tahrir Square are, time and time again, being sexually attacked by mobs, with authorities remaining idle.

    This is not a new phenomenon.

    Testimonies from women caught up in the demonstrations, survivors from previous protests and those trying to help, point to a horrific chain of events: tens if not hundreds of men surround their victims, tearing-off their clothes and veils, unzipping trousers, groping breasts and backsides. Sticks, blades and other weapons are frequently used in such attacks.

    May 10, 2013

    Amnesty's Egypt Researcher Diana Eltahawy blogs from Cairo

    Today I attended the first hearing in the trial of 12 people, including three leading activists, at a Dar Al Qadaa Al-Ali court. They are accused of attacking and burning the campaign headquarters of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq on 28 May 2012.

    Amnesty International fears that the activists are being pursued in a politically motivated case, which comes amid the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and dissent.

    April 08, 2013

    Amnesty's Egypt researcher Diana Eltahawy blogs from Cairo

    On Sunday I attended the Cairo funeral of four Coptic Christians killed on Friday night in Khousous, a small town north of the city.

    I had been planning to travel to Khousous to find out more about the sectarian violence which led to the deaths there.

    Instead, I found myself caught up in more violence at the funeral itself — with mourners on one side, and unknown assailants and, later, security forces on the other.

    Before the clashes erupted, feelings of grief, anger and injustice were palpable inside Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, which was filled with mourners. Tears, prayers and wailing were drowned out by chants against the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, and vows to avenge the dead.

    Shortly after the caskets and funeral procession made their way out of the cathedral, violence broke out nearby between some of the mourners and assailants reported to be residents of the area.

    February 01, 2013

    Amnesty International's Egypt researcher Diana Eltahawy writes from Cairo.

    Almost every girl and woman – regardless of age, social status or choice of attire – who has walked the streets or taken public transport in Cairo, has experienced some form of verbal or physical sexual harassment.

    This isn’t new. For years, Egyptian women’s rights activists and others have called on the authorities to recognize the seriousness of the problem.

    There needs to be a fundamental shift in institutionalized attitudes that discriminate against women.

    The Egyptian authorities must introduce legal reforms, prosecute perpetrators and address root causes, because the plight of women who have experienced sexual violence has been ignored.

    Blame is placed on the victims for being dressed “indecently”, or for daring to be present in “male” public spaces.

    The horrific testimonies emerging following protests commemorating the second anniversary of the “25 January Revolution” have brought to light how violent mob sexual attacks against women have happened, but have rarely been brought to public attention.

    December 06, 2012
    Demonstrators and security forces outside the presidential palace ©Amnesty International

    From the Amnesty International Egypt team.

    When he took office just a few months ago Mohamed Morsi promised to be the president of all Egyptians.

    But hopes that he would take steps to resolve the current situation and give up the wide-ranging powers that triggered this latest crisis have been dashed after a bitter and bloody night of clashes between the president’s opponents and supporters.

    The clashes followed an attack by the president’s supporters – believed to be largely made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood – on a sit-in staged by his opponents outside the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis.

    November 29, 2012

    Post by Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa team, on the ground in Cairo.

    Egyptians have returned to Tahrir Square many times since Hosni Mubarak fell, but rarely in these numbers.© Matic Zorman / Demotix

    Egyptians have returned to Tahrir Square many times since Hosni Mubarak fell, but rarely in these numbers.

    After the massive protest on Tuesday 27 November, some are even beginning to talk of a second uprising, a “November revolution”.

    Meanwhile President Morsi’s supporters are planning their response – a gathering in Tahrir on Saturday raising fears of clashes between the different camps.

    Not long ago, protesters were calling for an end to military rule. Today, large numbers are chanting against President Mohamed Morsi – the country’s first elected president and the man many had hoped would finally restore the rule of law.

    This post is from Amnesty International's Livewire team.

    Protesters on a tank in Cairo ©Amnesty International

    President Mohamed Morsi decision to give the army new policing powers has raised new concerns about Egypt’s future, raked up painful memories of the past.

    In protests around the Presidential Palace on Friday, we saw tanks and armoured vehicles belonging to the Presidential Guard parked in the streets.

    Protesters were climbing on them and taking pictures. A few fearless parents even let their children climb on them, posing with the soldiers.

    The scenes were eerily reminiscent of the days after the “25 January Revolution”, when many welcomed the army on the streets after the 18 days of mass protests that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

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